Great Wall Equipment

I have been looking forward to writing this page for so long. Primarily because when it is written, I am finished with the task of selecting equipment for the Great Wall walk. Many thanks to my sponsors: NOR Dialog, Vertikal and Lenovo for helping me getting the equipment together! Also – many thanks to Fredrik, John, Bjørn Sindre and Andreas for helping me in the process!

Here is the ‘mantra’ I have used for selecting the equipment for this walk:

“I am not climbing Mount Everest!”

Most of the time, I will be fairly close to people. This has implications on the level of robustness of the equipment I’m bringing.

Since I’m not climbing Mount Everest, I don’t need a 4 kg (8 lb) rucksack that can withstand ‘anything’. For the next 3 seasons, I won’t need a 3 kg (6 lb) tent that can withstand a winter storm. At the same time, I need to remember that the failure of some of my equipment can have big consequences time wise: my GPS device and size 45 shoes can not be replaced at the wink of an eye in rural areas in China.

When selecting equipment, I have reminded myself of the ‘mantra’ above, but at the same time tried to select equipment that will stand wear and tear over time.

Click here to see my equipment list. (Coming)
Click here to see my high tech equipment. (Coming)


Have a look at the three rucksacks below. They are all in the 70 – 80 litre range. The one to the right has very sturdy material, and the frame is very strong. It goes under the category ‘can withstand anything’ in my books.

The one to the left is ultralight. It has no internal frame, and the material is definitely weaker than the one to the right.

In the middle is the rucksack I’m bringing on this trip. It is comfortable to wear for weights up to about 20 kg (40 lb), and has a good frame. The material however is not as strong as the rucksack to the right. But that’s ok, because: I’m not climbing Mount Everest!

Weight saved: 2,13 kg (4,7 lbs)


The headlamp to the left is great. It gives a strong light that reaches far. It uses 4 AA batteries. The one in the middle uses LED technology and therefore has a long battery life. One can choose how strong the light is, and this way conserve batteries.

The one to the right weighs less than a tenth of the heaviest one, and this is going with me on the trip! It uses 2 CR2032 batteries, and they last only about 40 hours. I don’t plan to walk during the night – I plan to sleep. And I am definitely not climbing Mount Everest!

Weight saved: 247 grams (8,7 oz)

Now we are getting in to the gram / ounce hunting part of these examples.


When I kayaked the entire length of Norway in 2005, the mirror to the right came in handy because I contracted an eye infection. It hurt so much that I wanted to inspect my eye to make sure nothing was lodged into it. It also came in handy because I had to remove several ticks in places that were out of sight. This time, I will be bringing a much lighter mirror.

Weight saved: 30 grams (1,1 oz) (Hey – that’s more than the headlamp I’m bringing. Excellent!


Mouse device

Since I intend to spend a considerable amount of time taking and making pictures that are published on the web site, I want a dedicated mouse. So I found the lightest one in the world (I think) which can only be purchased aboard British Airways flights. It has an internal battery that is charged via the USB port, and a cordless transmitor.

Weight saved: 63 grams (2,2 oz) (As you will soon come to realize, this is more than my underpants weigh… Great!)

Nail clippers

Yes – I am bringing a pair because I want to give my feet the best possible life while I’m walking along the Great Wall.

I was going to use the one to the left, but at the airport I found a ‘non terrorist’ nail clipper made mostly out of plastic that has a wide clipper, but very light weight. They are currently  undergoing extensive testing on myself and anybody else I meet at this hotel, and so far the results are good!

Weight saved: Not sure – I don’t have an accurate weight here.

Underpants (You have been warned)

For the three first seasons of this walk, I will be using the black ones. Very light weight, and they dry very quickly. I’m not telling you how many pairs I’m bringing as not to embarras my mother, but a hint: More than one, and less than three…

Sorry Mr Bjørn Borg, but you have been weighed several times, and found to be too heavy.

Weight saved: 23 grams x 2   (0,8 oz)


Writing device

I love this one. The pencil will write in the cold, and will keep better if the paper gets wet. (Dear Mrs Allison – this is not the pen I got as a gift from you! I made sure to use a different one, and thank you for the gift  :-))

Weight saved: 19 grams (0,7 oz)




Shaving device

During the summer, I will probably shave from time to time, but during the winter, I intend to follow Forrest Gumps beard style while he was out jogging.

Weight shaved: 37 grams (1,3 oz)





I have left the boots till last intentionally. Because I have saved so much weight through the choices made above and many more, the demands of my boots are not so hard. Instead of a 20 kg+ (40 lb+) rucksack, I hope to be carrying a little above the half of this weight.

The advantage of saving weight is obvious. Less weight, means you can get away with a lighter rucksack which save you even more weight and may allow you to use light weight jogging shoes. This in turn is a big advantage as it is widely acknowledged that for every weight unit on your feet, you save the equivalent by a factor of 3 to 5 on your back.

The pair I’m using doesn’t have a Gore tex membrane as that would be almost intolerable during the hot summer months. Pr shoe, they weigh only 317 grams (11,2 oz). I am bringing a second ultralight pair for recreational use in the evenings, and in case the first ones are damaged. They weigh 215 grams (7,6 oz) pr shoe.

When it starts raining, I have also brought some seal skin ‘socks’ that are waterproof. I have not tested them before, but am willing to take the chance.

After about the halfway mark, I will switch to sturdy Gore tex boots as the terrain gets more challenging. Thanks for the advice Andreas!

Weight saved: 328 grams (11,6) This time, I calculated the weight saved from the middle boot in the picture. All weights are for one single boot or shoe.

The heaviest boot belongs to the Mount Everest class, and I’m not climbing it!

Rounding up

I hope this has shown some of the choices that have been taken when selecting equipment for the walk along the Great Wall of China. It is going to be really exciting to see if I’ve made the right decisions or not.

Click here to see my equipment list. (Coming)
Click here to see my high tech equipment. (Coming)