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Interesting Equipment

GPS (Satellite Navigator)

GPS stands for Global Positioning System and is a device that allows you to read your current position anywhere in the world in degrees, minutes and seconds. Initially used on the sea, it has come to be used on land as well, in areas such as the Sahara. If you are planning to buy a GPS, you should purchase one that is designed for road vehicles. The Silva GPS Compass, for example, works well inside a car without any external antenna. It remembers waypoints even when the batteries are dead. It doubles as a compass, being able to show your direction when standing still or walking. It can be connected to a plotter called Naviman Yeoman. This plotter is a board where you insert an ordinary paper map, and then see your current position through the indications of a small puck. The board is appropriately sized to fit on the lap. The hard part is to find maps over the region. Detail maps over the Niger-Algeria routes can be purchased from the local authorities in Niger, for example, even though they are a bit old.

Some Paris-Dakar racers use a type of computerised GPS and plotting system, where their current position automatically appears on a B&W screen. The machine is quite large. It is mounted in front of the front passenger. Maps are fed to the system from cartridges. However, as far as we know, these fail to display the location of sand dunes.

Rack of Lights on Roof

  If you plan to drive at night, you will surely appreciate the extra light brought by a light-rack on the roof of your car. These are far more powerful than the normal headlights, and as there isn't much traffic on the roads, you won't have to dim them all the time. It is important on the asphalt roads because they can sometimes be covered by sand dunes. Please note that we do not recommend driving off-road at night. If you do this anyway, you should be aware that the lights do not always give a correct picture of the three-dimensionality of the terrain.

Winch and Sand Anchor

Those who have a vehicle equipped with a winch should consider purchasing a sand anchor as well. The sand anchor is both lighter and handier than the sand ladders. Packed, it fits into a modest box (depending on the size of your anchor), and is assembled in a few minutes. You roll out the line of your winch, hook the anchor to the end, and bury it in the sand. The winch alone may not be able to pull you out; the anchor will start sliding slowly, but if you add some gas with your 4WD, you should be able to get out. You will still need to bring spades with you (just in case), and bring the sand ladders as well if you are not assured.   

 

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