In the past five years Manu Heras has hitchhiked, “frontpacked” and van-camped through all the continents except Antarctica. “I’ve been in many wild and inaccessible places,” he says. “Once, in Panama, I heard there was an isolated and beautiful beach following a trail through the jungle, so I said to myself, go! The trail wasn’t too bad until I found a creek crossing the way. Still, I wanted to discover that beautiful beach, so I had to choose — go through that creek or follow the seashore and hope to pick up the trail. I ended up in the Caribbean pushing my wheelchair and trying to avoid getting my camera wet! After more than an hour in the water trying to find a clear spot in the jungle, I was able to get back on the trail and to the beach. Yeah! It was so beautiful.”
Here’s his kit:
• Thermarest NeoAir lightweight sleeping pad — “It’s comfortable and thick enough to avoid pressure sores and rest my body,” he says, although it’s a little narrow.
• Mountain Equipment Co-op backpack — “Nothing special,” he says, “I got it in a yard sale.” He carries two other bags on the back of his chair as well.
• A lightweight sleeping bag and lightweight three-person summer tent
• MSR WhisperLite International stove
• A pump water filter
• A portable toilet
• Travel hand controls, “plus tools, an extra inner-tube and extra bearings, a first-aid kit, some clothes and catheters — at least 40 pounds in my front pack!”
• And, of course, a FreeWheel.
His advice for anyone else wanting to travel extensively and as affordably as possible? “Don’t be scared — you’ll figure things out as they happen,” he says. “Just be patient, open, creative, flexible and a little bit ready!” Follow his adventures on Instagram at @Intrepid_Manu.