Transylvania Kit list - Operation Wallacea

Expedition Information

Transylvania Kit list

The objective is to take the smallest amount of equipment needed to be comfortable and safe. You will need to carry your equipment and baggage on occasions and there are also maximum weight allowances which vary depending on the airline used (Wizz Air allow 32kg but you have to pay for this – £30 each way). 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 . Please mention that you are joining an Operation Wallacea expedition when you contact them 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.

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,  to prevent blisters whilst trekking. 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

Hiking boots
Make sure your boots have firm ankle support, a semi-flexible sole with good grips and dries relatively quickly.

Crocs/Teeva type Sandles/Reef sandles
Something comfortable to wear when you get back from your survey work, to dry your feet.

Roll matt/Thermarest
For a number of the villages we will be staying in tents therefore a roll matt at the very least is a necessity.

In Transylvania you will not be required to trek with a large rucksack so you may feel that a ‘cargo-bag’ is more suitable for travel than a large rucksack but both will be practical. A suitcase is less suitable. Many packs on the market today are not ‘rucksacks’ but ‘travelbags/cargo bags’ and there is a big difference. Rucksacks are built for wearing for a longer periods, whereas travelbags are designed for carrying between bus stations and airports, decide what you want not only for now but for the future.

Day bag/Small rucksack
Needed for your field work for carrying water, paper, pens, binoculars, cameras etc.

Sleeping Bag
Although it can get pretty hot during the day, after sunset the temperature can drop and as you will be sleeping in tents for some of your expedition, it can feel quite cold. It is recommended that you take a 2-3 season sleeping bag.

Water bottle/platypus, etc.
A combination of leak-proof plastic bottles (minimum capacity 2 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.

Even if you never use it, it’s important to have a whistle with you at all times to attract attention in an emergency.

Strong Head Torch
When camping, you will need a head torch to navigate camp after dark. Night time opportunistic walks would benefit from a stronger model such as Petzl headlamps. Please note that the LED and ‘mini Petzl’ models are no good for spotlighting nocturnal wildlife but are excellent back-up torches. Don’t forget spare batteries!

Rain can be frequent so a waterproof will be needed, a plastic poncho or lightweight rain jacket is invaluable. 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.

Insect repellent There are mosquitoes and other biting insects that can carry disease vectors for malaria, dengue and other diseases present at the site.  In order to protect yourself you need to be covered up at all times and to apply mosquito repellents on any bare skin (eg face and hands). However, you are joining a conservation research project, which at this site involves handling or being in close proximity to amphibians.  Mosquito repellents containing deet can kill amphibians if you are handling them with hands covered in deet and since some of the species you will be encountering are Critically Endangered, we want to be sure that those participating in the surveys are not wearing deet.  There are other animal handling or close proximity projects where deet is also a major issue, so it makes sense to look for the most effective non deet repellent available for when you are involved in animal handling or close proximity projects (see and Many of our staff use Mosi-guard which can be bought from Amazon.

An essential part of any tropical expedition kit – Factor 25, at an absolute minimum, is recommended.


Sanitary pads/Tampons
Please bring a supply even if you do not expect to use them.

Hat or bandana
Dehydration and heat exhaustion are two potential debilitators, especially in the first few days before you have fully acclimatized. The wearing of a hat or bandanna in conjunction with regular fluid intake can make all the difference.

Toiletries (MUST be biodegradable soap/shampoo) You need to minimise your impact on the environment. Most biodegradable soaps are multi-use so you only have to bring one bottle.

Small towel
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, thin beach towels will be fine otherwise.

Clothing essentials
You will be doing quite a lot of walking so 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. You must bring long trousers as there are many biting insects and ticks. Avoid bringing brightly coloured clothing, try colours which will blend in with the landscape. The weather can be quite cold particularly first thing in the morning so please make sure you have plenty of warm clothing with you.

  • Lightweight long baggy trousers (2-3 pairs)
  • Long shorts (1-2 pairs)
  • T-shirts (loose fitting ~ 3)
  • Long sleeved shirt (~3)
  • Thick fleece/sweater (2)
  • Hat or bandana
  • Swim suit, bikini or shorts
  • Sweat band
  • Socks (5 pairs)
  • Knickers/underpants (5 pairs)
  • Bras (2/3)

These are really essential to see much of the wildlife in the forest. 8 X 42 are the best to bring. If you don’t own your own, try and borrow as this will really enrich your experience.

You will have lots of opportunities to take pictures but please bring a waterproof carrying case (zip-lock bags will do) for the camera

Notebooks and pencils.
A requirement for all projects.

Gators or Wellington’s
These are optional but can come in handy for early morning surveys as the dew will make grass very wet.

Medical kit
Although every expedition will have its own medical supplies, and medical teams 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+)
  • Mosiguard Natural Insect Repellent
  • Antihistamine tablets (Piriton/Piriteze) and antihistamine cream
  • Paracetamol
  • Ibuprofen
  • Rehydration salts (Dioralyte/Electrolade)
  • Alcohol swabs/antiseptic wipes
  • Elastoplast – waterproof and fabric x 4, medium size (if allergic, use micropore)
  • Cotton wool or gauze
  • Blister plasters are essential; if you are prone to blisters bring enough to last for the full expedition
  • Crepe Bandage and safety pins

You may also wish to consider taking the following:

  • 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).