What to bring to Mongolia
Pack some nice clothes you enjoy wearing for UB. Chances are, you'll be in a hotel before and after the Derby and will probably be able to leave your luggage in their safe storage.
Another change of clothes for your return to civilisation is a good idea too. You'll appreciate these for both press conferences and parties and for the sheer joy of getting clean again.
We'll go out for a slap-up meal before travelling to the start line. There is clubbing and posing galore in UB, so dress up if you feel like it.
Hotels in UB will take 2 pin or 3 pin plugs, so bring your gadgets and adaptors as necessary. There are lots of cafes with WiFi for blogging and website pimping.
Bring a network-unlocked mobile phone if you want to do media stuff from the steppe. You can buy a Mobicom or GMobile SIM cheaply in UB and may find cell-phone coverage at several points on the Derby, enabling you to make SMS updates using our proprietary Live Tracking gubbins. Mobicom is probably your best bet.
What to bring to the start camp
Obviously you'll need all the stuff you are planning to take on the race. We will pick up one hand-sized piece of luggage from the start camp and deliver it to the finish camp at the race's conclusion. You need to label that luggage. You can bring a change of clothes and your favourite scented candle, or whatever else you fancy.
There will be no power at the start camp, and very limited power at the finish camp. The crew's satellite phones and laptops will take priority over any riders' gadgets. You may well be desperate to communicate your survival to the world but you will most likely have to wait until we return to UB.
The lower-fi your Derby, the less painful you will find it. If you are absolutely desperate to connect, a good power bank or solar charger should sort you out, even if you don't bring it on the horse.
On the horses
The Mongol Derby is primarily about riding- there's no point being wonderfully comfortable every night when you bed down and being able to check your horoscope on your iPad if the hassle of de-camping and keeping all your stuff attached to your horse brings you out in a rash. Think hard before you carry anything for 1000kms.
Bear in mind that stuff attached to you will be much more tiring for you than stuff attached to your horses- they are all going 40kms only, you are going 1000kms. BUT stuff attached to your horses is much more likely to gallop off into the sunset without you if you fall off. Ah, the old risk-reward conundrum again.
The only pieces of equipment you are obliged to carry are a riding hat, a water-carrying vessel, your rider card and the SPOT tracking device so that we can see where you are. You'll also need to provide your own stirrups and fenders/leathers. Other than these things, what you bring is up to you.
We've set a 5kg weight limit on equipment as we don't want the horses to be weighed down with endless bits and pieces. See the Weight Limits section of the rules for the details on this. With 7 derbies' worth of experience to draw on, we have a fair idea of what is useful, and what is not, but one man's essential is another man's paperweight, so you have to work this bit out for yourself.
Some suggestions for other equipment are:
- Para cord, rope, leather thong and bungee cords for on the go fix-a-jobs
- pare stirrup leather or belt - doubles up as almost anything
- Overgirth (this would not count in your 5kgs, its effectively tack not luggage, and a jolly good idea to boot)
- Gaffer tape
- Heavy duty needle and thread- in case of tears to saddle bag, or even you.
- Sleeping bag (able to cope with fluctuations in temperature)
- Bivi bag for nights under stars
- Basic medical kit; Pain relief: paracetamol, ibuprofen. Blister/rub treatment: blister dressings, zinc oxide tape, vaseline, antiseptic cream e.g. Savlon. Your guts: oral rehydration, loperamide, anti-acid. Ancillaries: chapstick, good sunscreen, plasters, small scissors, and water purification tabs
- Leatherman or similar multi-tool
- Tiny keyring torch attached to you- in case you can’t find your headtorch
- GPS and spare lithium batteries - you'll use 3-4 sets of AAs, depending on how twitchy a user you are. NB lithium batteries outlast ordinary AAs by a street, accept no substitute.
- Compass (in case you lose the above)
- Mongolian phrasebook
- Something warm - a down jacket is much more useful than a huge sleeping bag, it's cold for the last riding hour of the day
- Something waterproof
- Maybe a spare pair of pants. In a ziplock bag.
What you wear and how stinky you get is up to you.
Less essential items which you could bring are:
- Roll mat and inflatable pillow (if you're a bit soft)
- A few army rations (although it's easier just to man up and eat what the nomads eat)
- Wet wipes - great for getting clean(ish) while in your sleeping bag
- A cloth / sponge for cleaning sweat and grime off your girths. The less dirt and dried sweat there is on your girths, the less chance of girth galls
- Small gifts to give to the nomads (tiny torches, whisky miniatures, snuff sweets...)
- Cigarettes (seem to be useful even if you don't smoke)
Really this is a key part of the 'On Your Own' ethos. Have fun deciding what essential and what's dead weight