Gear You Need For The Mongol Rally
There are many opinions floating around about what gear you need on the Mongol Rally. It’s a BIG adventure. There are a lot of variables to consider. You don’t want to show up under prepared, or show up looking like you’re opening an outdoor store in the trunk of your rally car. Do you? Yeah, I didn’t think so… Let’s talk about basic gear.
Gear for the Mongol Rally
I’m a bare bones kind of traveller. Simple is best (You’re confused, I know. Yes, I enjoy luxe travel experiences, but I also like getting down and dirty. I’m a well-rounded girl, in more ways than one!). In an adventure like the Mongol Rally, I believe less is more. That being said, there were a few rally teams that I was seriously jealous of because they had ‘x’ item and I really wished I had it as well.
Which brings me to the subject of this post. Gear you REALLY need for the Mongol Rally – aside from a toothbrush and a swiss army knife!
Driving through Europe is one of the easiest parts of the Mongol Rally, and while you could get by without a map on the road, this map is great for planning before you leave, as well as for making fun side trips along the way. [Buy]
In some instances, roads are a novelty in Central Asia. Many are in very bad condition, and in the case of Turkmenistan, there is only one major road that goes through the country. That doesn’t mean you won’t get lost. [Buy]
Unless you want to deal with going through China, no matter which route you take, you will need to drive in Russia! [Buy]
There are not many roads in Mongolia, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get lost. If I didn’t make it to Mongolia, how would I know that? Simple, I travelled in Mongolia in 2010, and not much has changed since that time! [Buy]
Yes, you do need a couple maps. Please, for the love of all things holy and to avoid annoying other teams, spend $30 on maps! Getting around Europe and Turkey is fairly easy without a map, but once you enter countries like Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Russia, road signs are almost non-existent! Be sure to pick-up maps for Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Mongolia. **If you can, buy your Russia and Mongolia maps in Cyrillic!
If you can make it through the Mongol Rally without being towed at least once, then you’re doing something wrong! Visit an outdoor store and ask for a good climbing rope that can handle the weight of a small car. A few meters should cost around $20. Remember, a rope can also be used for tying down the gear, holding up a lean-to for shade, or hanging your teammate when they get oh so annoying.
*Editor’s note: If you commit the act of murder by hanging your teammate, this conversation never happened! But I do want to hear the story behind it…
I was totally one of those people who says, “What?! I don’t need a camp chair! Pffft! I can sit on the ground or something”, and then I was on the rally, and it was hot outside, and we were stuck at the ferry port in Baku for more than five hours, and I really, really, REALLY wanted to be sitting on a camp chair. Like really badly. Just buy one. Trust me.
A Sense of Adventure
The rally will test you in ways that you never thought possible. You’ll be pushed and pulled, stretched and beaten (and yes, it is totally worth it). The Mongol Rally is no place for uptight clock watchers. It’s an adventure, and you need to be open to it. Force yourself to relax. Make detours for a party. Sleep in. Stay an extra night in a city you love. Put the peddle to the metal when you realize you’ve spent too much time partying and not enough time driving!
Although it is possible to obtain some visas on the road, it can be a pain in the arse, and cause some team problems. Apply for your visas as soon as you can and take that stress off yourself. You can either apply on your own (which is cheaper), or use a visa service like VisaHQ (which is easier).
They’re not just for babies. Baby wipes are great for after meals, cleaning off your car (although I’m not sure why you’d want to clean your car during the rally), and using on your delicate parts when toilet paper or soap is not an option. If you can use them on a baby, you can use them on yourself!
You CANNOT do the Mongol Rally without a camera! Like if you even try to do the rally without a camera I will hunt you down and shoot you. Seriously! I recommend bringing a mirrorless camera like a Fuji X-T2 which allows you to change lenses but is not big enough to attract a lot of attention. Another good option is a cheap point and shoot camera that you won’t care about if it gets destroyed; which is definitely a possibility!
Another option to consider is a GoPro Hero5 to mount on your dashboard. That way you can catch in car craziness (unless you and your teammate are not getting along), video of you driving, or maybe a video of the drunk dude who decides to pass out in your guy during the kick-off party in Klenova, Czech Republic.
Also, remember to bring extra SD cards and an extra camera battery, just in case. 😉
I can guarantee you will be HOT during the rally. Like really, really hot. In fact, you will plan a slow and painful death for any rallier who has air conditioning and brags about said air conditioning. Just because you’re in a car, and melting, does not mean you won’t get a sunburn, in fact, you’ll get a nasty one if you’re not careful (I speak from experience). BRING SUNSCREEN!
I know, I just talked about sunscreen and heat, and now I’m talking about warm layers. These two things do not go together. Actually, they do. You will be melting hot during the day, but during your adventure, there will be nights that will chill you to the bone. I am so not even joking about this. Bring a knitted ski hat, a thermal shirt to wear under a t-shirt, warm socks, and a fleece jacket. Or a teammate who is seriously warm blooded and doesn’t mind having your naked cold body pressed against their naked hot body.
Everyone has different needs or wants in terms of the Mongol Rally. The old adage, less is more, always applies. Remember you will be HOT and you will be COLD. Think about how you want to document your rally adventures. Carry maps in case you get lost and need locals to point you in the right direction. Choose your teammate wisely.