Packing for the Mentawais
I have been fortunate enough to have made the journey to this wave rich mecca several times. Each occasion refined and tweaked the list below. Its a merely a general guide on what works for me so feel free to tweak to your own tastes. I also haven’t bothered to include the basics such as camera/music/passport/sunglasses which should be part of your core stuff for all trips.
The challenge in packing for the Mentawais is the location’s remoteness, heat and humidity. Sun protection is paramount, as is having a good amount of gear to cover both medical and breakage situations. Repairs and replacements are hard to come by, even more so for your body where infections from cuts etc sets in quick.
It may be different if operating from a land camp but the list below assumes you are on a liveaboard
- 3 x Boards – The waves are powerful here and frequently large and steep. So you should have minimum a semi gun, stepup and normal board. Rounded pins certainly help riding out heavy drops and throaty barrels.
- 4 x Leashes – breakage is common. Always take new to avoid existing nicks, sun damage that have weakened your existing ones. I like the OE premiums and ultimate as they cover a large range of wave size.
- 4 x tropical Sex wax – Worth scraping the cool water wax off before you go to avoid “the slide”. Water here is extremely warm so a lot of so called tropical waxes just don’t cut it.
- Wax comb – to groom that wax. I hate to say it but a plastic one will be best as you wont have to declare wood at customs.
- Surfboard fins – I carry a set per board as generally I like to have bigger/stiffer ones for bigger waves and the odd set to muck around with. Make sure you have a key.
- 2 x Reef booties – Essential. A lot of people hate them but save yourself a foot cut that ruins your entire trip. Why two pairs? They are not that hard to lose while getting washing machined on a decent sized day
- 5 x Boardshorts – this can be down to preference but I like to rotate the wet and dry ones and if you surf 3 times a day you are going to need a dry one or two. Any form of rashing is bad but stretch is not necessarily the answer. Its all in the seams and where they rub on. Most standard brands are pretty good on this front now – avoid retro cuts/styles where they didn’t think of these things.
- 3 x surf T/rash vest – The sun is extremely fierce and so is suddenly adding 8 hours a day paddling to your ribcage. Lycra may be your choice. Personally, I like the polarised surf T from Patagonia, which both protects, is quick drying and low abrasion due to the polyester blend. It also doesnt stretch much which is key unless you like underwater hockey fights. Throw a long sleeve in there for when you are hanging out in the sun.
- Sunscreen – the stronger the better. Zinc is good due to reflective nature. Otherwise get some highly water resistant stuff in there like Island tribe. Aftersun doesn’t hurt either. The sun is fierce and if you are fair you will get burnt.
- Surf hat – quick drying and will shield your noggin. Essential for those folicularly challenged.
- Gath Helmet – For the hellman inclined, it doesnt hurt to have the optional insurance for you skull. Also makes for a useful mount for your GoPro in those POV barrel shoots.
- Repair kit – you are going to get dinged and so are your boards. A quick repair kit can save one of those from taking on water
- Med kit – the repair kit for you. Essential stuff as there is a good chance of losing some bark on the coral. Betadine, plasters, antibiotics, vitamins and sinutabs (for air conditioned boats). Anything more serious should be in stock on the boat
- Travel Insurance – for when medical kits arent enough and you need airlifting somewhere civilised. Its a small chance but better to have than not. Also, see Gath helmet
So thats my list – what would you change?
Has spent over 30 years of his middle aged life trying to spend more time in the ocean. Likes to surf, bodysurf, free dive and pretend he enjoys chasing big waves.
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