The following is Secret Compass’s recommended kit list for the Jungle Guides Expedition in Panama. You will be required to carry all of your own kit for this expedition along with a share of a group food. Secret Compass will supply hammocks and shared cooking and water purification equipment.
If you have been on a Secret Compass team expedition before, please check the below kit list carefully because as a course rather than an expedition, the kit list contains some slightly more specialist items.
IMPORTANT: You hiking boots are one of your most important pieces of equipment. Please ensure these are purchased as far in advance as possible so they are worn in and comfortable before the course. See our article on jungle boots and foot-care here.
Secret Compass have arranged team members discounts with Cotswold Outdoor, Nordic Life, Outdoor Hire and Expedition Kit Hire, details of these will be sent through on booking.
Baggage and Sleeping
- RUCKSACK: A comfortable 60 – 75 ltr rucksack that fits your back, a good outdoor shop will be able to help with fitting. All your personal gear needs to fit easily into this pack, including the hammock you will be given by us and a share of group food. A pack with an adjustable support system recommended.
- WATERPROOF RUCKSACK LINER: Sealable “canoe” or “dry” bags made by Podsac or Ortlieb. You need a large one to line your rucksack as it will rain!
- SMALLER DRY BAGS (optional): For separating your gear or waterproofing valuables.
- HAMMOCK AND TARP (optional): These are provided as standard but if you would prefer to bring your own let us know.
- SLEEPING BAG LINER: Cotton or silk.
- SLEEPING BAG or TRAVEL BLANKET: If you are a cold sleeper you may want a thin sleeping bag or thin blanket in addition to a liner, rated to 5ºC at comfort. You can get Hammock specific sleeping bags, but they’re not essential. More important is that it’s lightweight. Discuss this with your guide during the Skype briefing.
- SHORT FOAM SLEEPING PAD
- CAMP PILLOW (optional)
- WATERPROOF WALLET: For your passport and money!
- LONG SLEEVE SHIRT: 1x thin trekking shirts that dry quickly with long sleeves to provide insect and sun protection (not cotton).
- TREKKING TROUSERS: 1x thin trekking trousers that dry quickly and are comfortable. Impregnated with Permethrin ideally (see below)
- THIN JACKET/FLEECE (optional): A thin “micro fleece” or jacket, in case you feel the cold or use as a pillow.
- HIKING SOCKS: 10x light weight trekking sock pairs.
- WALKING BOOTS: These need to be specific desert or jungle boots. Ensure your boots are worn in and comfortable. Try to avoid Gore-tex boots as your feet find it harder to breathe and the boots do not dry easily when wet. We recommend you visit your local outdoors store for advice on fitting.
- SPARE WALKING BOOT INSOLES: Essential to change part way through to maintain foot hygiene.
- SNAKE GAITERS OR THICK MOUNTAINEERING GAITERS (optional): There are venomous snakes in the Panamanian jungle. Whilst there has never been an incident on an expedition, there have been sightings, so a tough layer of protection is recommended.
- PERMETHRIN (optional): Use at home to impregnate all of your day clothing (including socks!) with insect repellent.
- SLEEP/EVENING WEAR: 1 set of clothing to keep dry and put on in the evening. You day clothes will get wet.
- SANDALS: Around camp and on the river. Ensure closed toes, secure and comfortable. Not flip flops!
- UNDERWEAR (optional): lycra sports shorts such as Under Armour or similar which don’t chafe and dry quickly.
- SWIM WEAR (optional)
Some of the key features of jungle boots are their height, well above the ankle; they have decent grip on wet, slippy surfaces such as river rocks; they have drain holes to purge the excess water out; and they lack Gore-Tex lining.
Your feet are going to be wet from crossing rivers all day. In the high humidity of the rainforest once boots (all boots) get wet, they will stay wet, at least for the duration of the course. Boots with Gore-Tex lining are designed to keep water out when it’s coming from the sides and the bottom, but they do nothing against water that’s coming from the top of the boot. In fact, the Gore-Tex lining effectively becomes a water vessel that retains water inside, so boots that have this lining breathe very poorly. Even if you’re not crossing rivers, your feet are going to sweat profusely. Therefore in the jungle, Gore-Tex is to be avoided at all costs.
Some popular brands of jungle boots:
Salomon Jungle Ultras, great boots all around. They have drain holes on the instep and the outer shank for quicker drainage. Traction is good, not the best of the bunch but good enough.
Bellville Tactical Research, great boots that offer a roomy toe box, good drainage and some of the best traction. Unfortunately they don’t last very long. Worth putting a line of stitching around the sole or extra protection.
5.11 Speed 3.0 Jungle Boots, one of the most popular jungle boots nowadays, they tick all the boxes. They’re ugly as hell but “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.
Alt-berg Jungle Microlite Panama Classic, for those customers in the UK and Europe, these boots are bomb-proof, and will last a lifetime. They are a bit stiff so a good break-in period is mandatory. Make sure to get the Alt-bergs (Jungle Microlites) that have drain holes on the instep (if they don’t have drain holes they are NOT jungle boots). Also, the “Panama Classic” label is a reference to the tread design of the sole. In general the Alt-berg soles are stiff, so good for muddy terrain but not ideal for slippy rocks, but the Panama Classic fairs a bit better than the regular Jungle Microlite which features a Vibram sole, stay away from this one. This Vibram sole is terrible on wet and hard surfaces.