10 things every adventurer needs

1 A face like an old shoe
Yes, that’s right. We’ll be having none of this doe-eyed, Nivea-skinned, blonde-elf-from-Lord-of-the-Rings androgyny in the adventure corps. Proper adventurers have seen the world – and been smacked by it. Repeatedly. With a hammer. But, hey – there’s life in them lines.The Hat™

2 Guts of steel

Convincing thousand-yard stares and a few layers of dust are easy to bluff; but when it comes to surviving off the land, you can’t fake your constitution. And it’s a stern intestine that manages to accommodate mealy river water, berries and a stick insect without it instantly exiting through a convenient orifice.

3 Ray Mears’ phone number

Procured in all likelihood from the ‘contact’ link on Ray’s survival school website – and stored on your phone under the title ‘Ray M (work)’ for the purposes of showing off this meagre level of contact in the pub – this never-used number radiates cachet. His Rayness himself probably saw the folly of distributing his real number the 19th time someone crackled into his ear with: “Hi, Ray? Yep, yep, sorry… look, mate, I know you’re busy but could you talk me through that thing you do with the sticks again… hello?” 

4 An iffy affinity for sharp objects

“Check this out: genuine kukri. Picked it up in Ladakh. See this little notch at the bottom of the blade? There’s an old story that says that Gurkhas must draw blood every time they unsheathe the blade. So, they’d use the notch to puncture a little hole in their own forearm like this, see… no, don’t leave… come back! I’m putting it away now…”

5 A defining anecdote

Low-level, one-trick-pony-style fame is never fully appreciated by the adventurer, who typically strives for a more general respect and awe from all he encounters. But alas, he has to suffer instead the repeated indignity of being introduced as “the fella I told you about. You know, the guy with the bite. Go on, Roy – show him your leg…”

On the next page: the next 5 things, Ray Mears' phone number (maybe), plus win The Hat!6 A penchant for decorative kitsch

Full of Polynesian tribal crotch tubes, several thousand Nepali prayer flags, brass gargoyles from Panama and enough dusty wicker to burn down London, to the adventurer’s eye his home habitat lacks only the jungly rhythm of cicadas to be perfect. To the horror-struck visitor’s eye, it looks like a bug-infested, third world remnants factory. And not in a good way.

7 A flinty demeanour

You can always spot the real adventurer in a crisis. He’s the one thoughtfully scratching his chin with a lazy gaze while everyone else is shrieking like a chimp on fire.

8 A barely-there passport

A source of never-ending affection in the adventurer’s eyes. Filled with river-water-run stamps from gnarly locations, visa staples and the frail, brittle desiccation only found in something that’s had too many desert hours. That is, until the day a customs official barks: “What the hell is this? Some sort of moth?”

9 Strange habits of dubious origin

You know you’re dealing with a pro when he removes a fiver from his boot, opens a Budweiser with a lighter then instinctively balances the empty bottle on the door handle before turning in with one hand surreptitiously wedged under his pillow. There’s no point in asking why: he’ll just go all stoic, tap his nose with an index finger and grunt something cryptic. Like “Beirut”.

10 The hat

Everyone secretly wants one draped on their hatstand or a bookcase, as if casually frisbee’d there upon return from the Blue Nile. But dare to venture outside in it, and you’ll inevitably meet someone on the hill who sarcastically quips through a ill-stifled guffaw: “So – who are you supposed to be then?” Cue the realisation that you’ve adopted the most recognisable trademark you could have possibly chosen. Are you as handsome, resourceful and charming as Indiana? The mirror may suggest not. But you and that hat know better...

More: 10 things...

...that demand respect
...that are extremely distressing
...that define a walker's winter
...that defy explanation
...every adventurer needs
...to always remember