Dominica Kit List
The objective is to take the smallest amount of equipment needed to be comfortable and safe. There are maximum weight allowances which vary depending on the airline used, and particularly to get to Dominica we recommend that your check-in bag weighs no more than 20kg. This is because the planes that fly into Dominica tend to be quite small, and if there is a large group of passengers (e.g. an Operation Wallacea group) all with heavy luggage, all on the same flight, some of the bags may get delayed.
Always aim to buy equipment that is compact, light weight, durable, quick drying, versatile and in good repair. You may find that you have suitable gear already, so don’t feel you have to buy everything new. Shop around and price everything before purchasing anything. Some items you may be able to borrow from friends or relatives, pick up second hand, or get deals off the internet.
We have done some research and certain outlets will give you some excellent deals if you mention our name. In the UK our main contacts are: Nomad Travel (0207 833 4114), and Travel with Care (01980 626 361) for the terrestrial projects, Nomad offer discounts on both equipment and vaccinations at their clinics, for a voucher please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Watersports Warehouse provide good deals on any marine equipment needed please email email@example.com with Dive Voucher in the subject box and we will send you a copy. Please mention that you are joining an Operation Wallacea expedition when you contact Watersports Warehouse and you should be able to get a further discount on the published prices.
In North America Back Country Gear and US Outdoor Stores have a good selection of equipment for the forest for volunteers in the US, whilst Mountain Equipment Co-operative is the best for Canadian volunteers. Scuba Store has a good range of marine equipment with outlets in both the US and Canada.
Try out your kit in realistic circumstances if at all possible before your expedition, especially new boots which can often need time to fully mould to the shape of your feet. All baggage, clothes and kit should be clearly labelled to avoid confusion. There are many volunteers, and some may have the same or similar items to you. Valuables are very occasionally at risk. Please make sure you have insurance, record all serial numbers and keep all receipts. Remember to carry all personal documents and cash safely in a concealed money belt.
Don’t forget to order your Opwall t-shirt for this years expedition!
What to take for terrestrial based projects
Hiking boots. Make sure your boots have firm ankle support, a semi-flexible sole with good grips and dries relatively quickly. Light-weight Gore-tex (or a cheaper equivalent) boots are waterproof and dry quickly in the Dominican climate and so are a good option. However, there is no need to spend a lot on a really expensive boot as most of the hiking is relatively easygoing compared to other expeditions.
Old Trainers/sneakers. You will need additional footwear for in-water activities that can can get wet as you will not want to wear your main hiking boots for these activities. This can be any type of footwear that fits securely to your foot and provides good grip. If you are planning on doing the optional Canyoning experience with Extreme Dominica then you must have footwear with good grip and a closed toe. Old trainers/sneakers with good tread are ideal. Some hiking style sandals are also OK for wading in rivers, but may not be appropriate for Canyoning.
Rucksack/Travel Bag. Unlike some of our other expeditions, you will not be required to hike with your bag on your back. Therefore, there is much more flexibility in the type of bag that you can bring with you. You are likely to need a bag with a capacity of at least 50 litres. A standard suitcase is fine, but try to bring a small one to make it easier to carry. Rucksacks/backpacks and Travelbags are also good options. Rucksacks are built for wearing for longer periods, whereas travelbags are designed for carrying between bus stations and airports. If you are buying a new bag it is a good idea to decide what you want not only for now but for the future – a good bag can last for many years.
Waterproof plastic bags. These can be useful for keeping things dry in your bag when completing field work, but are less critical for this expeditions because your main bag will be kept in your room at the Archbold Research Centre or at the Cabrits Dive Centre. However, combination of sizes and styles are useful to keep water out of your kit and clothes in your day bag in case of heavy rain. Ziploc (freezer) bags are brilliant for keeping your camera, and other bits of kit dry.
Day bag/Small rucksack/backpack. Needed for your field work for carrying water, paper, pens, binoculars, cameras etc. Just a standard day bag that is comfortable (two shoulder straps).
Sleeping sheet. Bottom sheets will be provided on the beds at both the terrestrial and marine field sites, but you may want to bring a single duvet cover to sleep in.
Water bottle/platypus, etc. A combination of leak-proof plastic bottles (total capacity 3 litres) is imperative. There are many styles to choose from – it is not necessary to get anything fancy, though if you do want to invest in one of the ‘hydration systems’ on the market (Platypus, camelback, Ortileb) they do have the advantage of packing flat when not in use. Nalgene do a heavy-duty wide mouthed bottle with a measuring gauge.
Strong Head Torch. Night-time opportunistic walks require the stronger Petzl headlamps. Please note that the ‘mini Petzl’ models are no good for spotlighting nocturnal wildlife such as snakes and amphibians, etc, but are excellent back-up torches and useful for moving around camp at night. Don’t forget spare batteries!
Waterproofs. Rainfall is unpredictable in this part of the world, so a plastic poncho or lightweight rainjacket is useful. Expensive heavyweight Gore-Tex raincoats are not recommended – they are hot and may get snagged and torn.
Watch with alarm. It doesn’t have to be anything technical. A travel alarm clock will also do.
Biodegradable soap/shampoo/washing liquid. To minimise impact on the environment we ask all volunteers to bring ‘green’ detergents.
Insect repellent. Mosiguard is quite effective, though you may want to increase your cover with a DEET based product. Avon “Skin so Soft” Dry Oil Body Spray also works and brewer’s yeast tablets taken regularly also seem a good repellent.
Sunblock. An essential part of any tropical expedition kit – Factor 25, minimum, is recommended.
Talcum powder/Anti Fungal Powder. Due to the humid nature of the tropics, it is imperative to take extra special care of feet and crotch areas. Regular application of talcum powder can aid drying, and anti fungal powder can help prevent and combat athletes foot/other fungal infections.
Sanitary pads/Tampons. Please bring a supply even if you do not expect to use them.
Alcohol gel hand sanitiser. Useful for cleaning your hands before eating your packed lunch in the field.
Hat or bandana. Dehydration and heat exhaustion are two potential debilitators, especially in the first few days before you have fully acclimatised. The wearing of a hat or bandanna in conjunction with regular fluid intake can make all the difference.
Small towel/sarong. Don’t bring a big thick towel as it is heavy and won’t dry quickly enough . Excellent travelpac towels (eg Lifeventure) are available, but can be pricey—a tea towel will do the job. Sarongs can double up as sheets and skirts.
Clothing essentials: Dark colours don’t show the dirt, but they do retain more heat than light colours, so we recommend light colours, but not white. Also, a combination of natural and synthetic fibres are advisable – whereas nylon has the advantage of drying quickly it can also cause you to sweat more thus causing chaffing and heat rash. Cotton on the other hand is kind to your skin, but can take a while to dry. Both have their strengths and weaknesses – seek advice when purchasing. Clothes washing can be done locally in Dominica but there may be some delays in getting your washing back. We would recommend that unless you are visiting for more than 2 weeks, you do not plan on being able to wash clothes on-site.
- Lightweight long baggy trousers (2 pairs)
- Long shorts (2 pairs)
- T-shirts (loose fitting – 5)
- Long sleeved shirt (2)
- Swim suit, bikini or shorts (1)
- Socks (6 pairs)
Binoculars. These are really essential to see much of the wildlife in the forest and very useful for bird watching right off the Archbold Research Centre Terrace. 8 X 40 are the best to bring
Camera. You will have lots of opportunities to take pictures but please bring a waterproof carrying case for the camera
Mask and snorkel. You may want to bring your own mask and snorkel for your marine week (see below) but it is also useful to have one for the freshwater team fieldwork. Part of the methodology requires students to look under the surface of the water in shallow streams and rivers to look for fish and invertebrates. Some masks and snorkels will be provided for this activity so it is not essential to bring your own, but, if you are thinking about brining your own anyway then you will not need to share with others during the freshwater activities.
What to take for Marine based projects
Dive Training Courses
All those learning to dive will need to bring a PADI Open Water manual, RDP and logbook with them. They’ll also need a form of PIC, which allows you to register your completion of the course at the end of it. You can find information on purchasing these from http://opwall.com/get-involved/making-a-payment/padi-pack-and-pic-purchase/
If you want to buy these items elsewhere, please remember that the PIC is rarely included with the training materials, but it is still a required item. You can buy them on their own from us, but they’re £26 (or equivalent) each.
You will not be able to complete the Open Water course if you arrive on site without these items.
If you are already a qualified diver, we will require proof of your dive qualifications on site. You will also need to bring with you your completed log books, and PADI forms. We do accept non-PADI qualifications, as long as it is equivalent to or more advanced than PADI Open Water.
Please bring your completed, original PADI forms with you on expedition, but you’ll need to send them beforehand to us for checking. Please find more details on the expedition document pages.
All the equipment listed below is essential for diving projects. Some is available to hire on site, except for wetsuits and dive watches. If you decide to hire, budget around ($15) per day for a full set of equipment. If you plan to continue diving in the future, it might be well worth investing in your own kit.
- Buoyancy Control Device (BCD)
- Mask and snorkel
Wetsuit. We recommend that you bring a wetsuit, although the water in Dominica is very warm, so it is not essential. We recommend a 2-3mm thickness shortie, or full length if you are prone to the cold. On days when it is too warm for a wetsuit, a ‘rash vest’ makes a very good alternative.
Dive watch or computer. This is a requirement under PADI regulations for qualified divers. However, PADI allows Open Water divers to go off diving in buddy pairs on their own without a Dive Master whereas Opwall regulations require that all divers are accompanied by a Dive Master who times their dives. Under these circumstances we don’t consider it necessary but if you have a waterproof watch or dive computer please take it.
Mask and Snorkel. Limited supply available for hire.
Fins and Booties. Fins come in two varieties, full foot fins (booties not necessary), and fins with straps that require neoprene booties. It is completely down to personal preference. Limited supply of full foot fins available for hire on site.
Sunblock. Please bring plenty of waterproof sunblock SPF 25 minimum.
Sunglasses. A good pair are important to protect your eyes from the glare reflected from the water.
Sandals or flipflops.
Hat or bandana. An important barrier against heat stroke.
Lightweight waterproof jacket.
Insect repellent and Skin So Soft.
Small Padlock for safe box.
Notebooks and pencils. A requirement for all projects – if you want to splash out, waterproof books are definitely an advantage.
Sleeping sheet. A sleeping bag is not necessary but a single duvet cover or sleeping sheet will be needed for the marine site.
- Lightweight long baggy trousers (2 pairs)
- Shorts (2 pairs)
- T-shirts (loose fitting – 5)
- Long sleeved shirt (1)
- Swim suit, bikini or shorts
Although every expedition will have its own medical supplies on site, you MUST carry your own personal medical kit. This way you will be as self sufficient as possible, and able to treat minor scrapes and injuries yourself, which is vital when, for example, you are involved in a jungle training exercise.
The following are essential items:
- Sun cream (SPF 25+)
- Insect Repellent
- Antihistamine tablets (Piriton/Piriteze) and antihistamine cream
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Rehydration salts (Dioralyte/Electrolade)
- Alcohol swabs/antiseptic wipes
- Elastoplast – waterproof and fabric x 4, medium size (if allergic, use micropore)
- Iodine liquid
- Cotton wool or gauze
- Blister plasters
- Crepe Bandage and safety pins
You may also wish to consider taking the following:
- Sea sickness tablets or aquastraps/seabands
- Sterile gauze Non-adhesive dressing, medium size (Melonin)
- Zinc oxide tape
- Canestan pessaries (treatment of vaginal thrush if you are prone to this)
- Ear drops (dive projects only)
- Vitamin supplements
If you need to take prescribed medicines whilst on expedition, please bring sufficient supplies to cover your stay. For example if you are asthmatic you MUST bring you own inhalers, or if you have a history or recognized risk of going into anaphylactic shock due to an allergy, you must supply your own Epipen.
Always waterproof and clearly label drugs (with generic, rather than trade names). Occasionally there are restrictions on travelling with certain medicines. If you think this may be relevant to you, please contact your Home Office Drugs Branch (in the UK: 0207 273 3806).