Gear Guy

Any gear ideas for a yearlong stint in Micronesia?

I'm moving in two weeks' time to a small island in Micronesia to teach for a year, and I've been told we will have no running water or electricity. Could you recommend an air mattress or cot that will last nine months and be pseudo-comfortable? How about reliable solar-rechargeable batteries? Or a sturdy water purifier/filter? Or anything else for that matter, as I'm at my wit's end! I will mail you coconuts and other treats from the Marshall Islands. Jourdan Mii, Florida

A: Oh boy, you've got some scrambling to do. If you have time, try to get some of the following.

Buy the Cascade Designs Therm-a-Rest Luxury LE as your sleeping pad. It's $100 from REI, but it's one of the most comfortable sleeping pads out there. Get a patch kit, too (although, even if it goes flat, you still have cushioning). Plus it compacts down fairly well for travel.

For your battery charger I'd recommend the Universal Solar Battery Charger from Sundance Solar (, a basic charger that sells for $20. It charges AAA, AA, C, and D batteries. Get two or three of these units.

Now I'm thinking you'll surely have potable water, no? But, just in case, get an MSR WaterWorks EX ($140; to filter your water. Get an extra filter cartridge and a maintenance kit. Also get two or three bottles of SweetWater ViralStop ($9 each from to kill viruses that the filter doesn't catch.

What else? That's a tough one. Some good sun wear, such as an Ex Officio Baja Lite shirt ($79; and some Gramicci Qwik Dry Shorts ($38; A pair or two of Teva Cross-Terra sandals ($50; might be worthwhile, as will some good sunglasses like the all-around Julbo Reflex ($89; Consider also a Freeplay Summit Radio ($99;, a wind-up or solar-powered radio, so you can keep up with world events!

Anyway, good luck. Send a postcard—and that coconut.

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