The Basics (What to pack for day & multi-day trips)
The Basics: Reading Time: 10 minutes
This warmer weather has us thinking of the summer days that are coming upon us. However, as with anywhere, but especially with the Tasmanian climate, it’s important to always take the Basics with you when planning to play wilder. This is advised by the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service too. Our vision is to empower people to find their feet and thus to enhance the way they explore themselves, their communities and the outdoors. Getting in the habit of packing these Basics each time you head out into wilder places, is a good habit to form, even on day hikes, and particularly on trails unfamiliar to yourself. Another really great resource is our Wilder Trails Facebook group, so head on over there and join to be surrounded by a range of experience levels.
Overview of the Basics
These are the items to pack as a minimum for day walks
At Find Your Feet, we want to stock you with products to keep you safe while embracing all of the benefits that our wilder places have to offer. When determining what extent of each essential item to bring, be sure to take into account weather, difficulty, duration, and distance from help. We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and although you may never use this equipment, in the event that you need it, it’s best to always have it on you. If you’re looking for routes to complete, our Wilder Trails program is a great resource to find trails for all experience levels.
- Light day pack
Whether you like one with sturdy straps or one that packs down into the size of your fist, a day pack is essential for anytime you head out to store all of the Basics. We like packs with chest or hip straps for added comfortability.
- Weatherproof jacket
Regardless of how long you are venturing out for, we recommend one with a hood. Even if it doesn’t end up raining, you can use this layer as a windbreaker. A point to note here is the use of “weatherproof” over waterproof. We know waterproof jackets are a large investment due to the intricate waterproofing technology , for seam sealed zippers, for ventilation, for all that goes into keeping you dry. Something that is weatherproof will be less costly, but likely more bulky with less ventilation, but a great place to start if you are beginning your journey into wilder places.
- Warm hat
Merino beanies are an item we always recommend to have stashed in your daypack to serve as your warm hat. The merino helps to keep you warm even if it happens to get wet. On those days when the wind just won’t die down or you get caught out in unforgiving weather, keeping your head warm will help to ensure you aren’t losing the body heat that you are working hard to try and maintain. Neck warmers also work really well given their multifunctional nature, pull them around your ears when the wind starts to howl as an alternative to a beanie.
- Sun Protection
This includes sunglasses, sun protective clothes, and sunscreen. A wide brimmed hat and chapstick can go a long way when out in wilder places, and keep in mind that even if there’s snow up in the mountains, you can still get a sunburn. Slip, slop, slap! If your day pack has hip pockets, get into the habit of storing a small tube of sunscreen and SPF chapstick in there for added convenience, you won’t have to dig through your pack to get to these.
- Hiking boots & socks
Tasmania Parks & Wildlife have hiking boots listed, but we also support hiking shoes as a lighter option depending on the support you need and the distance you’re going. In order to minimise blisters, make sure your shoes are worn in before you leave for your wilder adventure. Wear them around the house, cook dinner in them, do the dishes in them, anytime you aren’t bathing or sleeping we recommend wearing them in. Really get a feel for being on your feet and wearing them around (even if it is just on even surfaces) so that when you hit the trail your feet are prepared too. Having appropriate socks will also help make your experience on the trail much more enjoyable.
Gaiters come in various lengths from ankle to knee high depending on what level of playing wilder you’re intending to reach. Ankle gaiters work well for trail runners, areas with little mud and as a preventative for keeping out sand, debris, and unwanted ticks/ leeches. The full coverage gaiters are ideal for saving your shins on days of leg-destroying overgrown tracks/ scrub (we’re talking about you Scaparia) and provide serious footwear protection.
Always take more water than you think you will consume and try not to rely on natural water sources (streams etc) as these are very season dependent and may dry up. Having collapsible water bottles can save space if that is your preference while others prefer the ease of water bladders. Carrying water filtration tablets, or purifiers is highly recommended in addition to electrolyte tablets.The suggested amount is 1 litre per person for every 3 hours of walking and can be complemented with electrolyte tablets to replace the sodium your body loses through sweat.
- High Energy Nutrition
Having food beyond what you anticipate is also important to have along with you. Sometimes you may exert more energy on a particular day than you expected, and we can all imagine the feeling of being hangry, especially when wet and cold. This simple item can drastically change your mood if the elements are against you. Items such as high-energy bars, trail mixes, dates and glucose-based snacks will give you a quick hit of energy (ie. jelly beans, sports chews).
Blogs to Read:
- Do You Fuel Yourself Properly?
- This is mainly geared towards runners, but the physiology can be applied across many sports
- Backpacking Meal Ideas
- First aid kit (suitable for walking in remote areas)
Whether you’ve decided to take a pre-assembled kit or one you’ve personally made up yourself they are vital to have along. Depending on the size of your group as well as the length of your trip, the items you have stored in your kit may vary. However, before you set out, make sure you know how to use all of the items within the kit as well as confirm that nothing has expired. Go to items within your kit should include: blister care, bandages of varying sizes, gauze pads, scissors, pen, paper, and bug/ leech spray is another recommended item to have along with you. Having either a waterproof kit or placing yours in a dry sack serves as an extra measure to ensure that when you are in need of these items, they can be used properly if rain falls or you pack ever falls into a water body.
- Emergency space blanket (for hypothermia)
You just never know when you may be in need of shelter from the elements. Having an emergency blanket is a small, yet effective item to have on you at all times. They can also be used to sit on during your stop for lunch so you don’t get wet or cold whilst you take a short break. On overnight excursions these are important in addition to your tent as your tent may not always be on you when exploring from the campsite. Equally, on day hikes, an emergency blanket can keep you warm if you become lost or injured on the trail.
- Mobile phone
Be aware that in remote locations you may not be able to get a signal. A good practice is to save the location of where you parked in your Google Maps app. That way if you become disoriented and without reception, you have a greatly improved safety margin. A battery pack and charging cable are always good items to have as well.
- Rubbish bag for your waste
Many easy to eat meals for day walks involve some form of waste, from muesli bars to apples. We know it’s easy to shove wrappers into pockets when eating while on the trail, but then next time you open that pocket, the wrapper may fly out with the wind. A rubbish bag can be crafted out of whatever you deem appropriate, we really like the Sea to Summit Trash Bag as it allows you to put an actual bin liner in it, making clean up post hike quick and hassle free, although it is quite large for day hikes.
- Extra Clothes (be prepared for changing weathers, wear layers, and pack rain gear)
Be prepared for changing weather despite forecasts, always wear layers, and pack rain gear. Being wet and/or cold is never a good mix when in wilder places, potentially causing you to be more prone to injuries. Depending on the season and where you're journeying, insulating layers for tops and bottoms, gloves, neck tubes, and extra socks, are all recommended items to keep you enjoying your time out on the trail.
Multi-day walks (in addition to The Basics)
- Large, waterproof hiking pack (plus pack liner)
For 1-2 days, we recommend a 50-60L size pack. For 3-5 days we recommend a 65-75L size. For 8+ days we recommend something 75L+. Depending on the gear you have, these guidelines may not be applicable, some gear is so compressible these days that you may be able to get away with something much smaller. In order to help keep your gear dry, try to fit as much into your pack and have as little as possible dangling from your pack. A pack liner is a dry bag that goes on the inside of your pack and helps seal your gear away from the elements. Additionally, you can bring along a pack cover that goes on the outside of your pack. Some pack covers are made of light materials that aren’t very durable if they are to rub up against dolerite for example. Additionally, the lighter covers can be difficult to manage in windy conditions as the wind sneaks in between your pack and the cover, creating a balloon effect.
- Tent (3-4 season rated with an inner and outer layer)
Anytime you are doing an overnight hike, regardless of if you have booked a hut, you should be carrying a tent. Yes, it’s added weight, but this is your shelter if you can’t make it to the hut for any number of reasons. We recommend adding a footprint to your tent set up, to help add insulation and prevent water from getting into your tent during relentless storms.
- Sleeping bag and inner sheet
Your sleeping bag should be rated to at least 0°C for coastal areas and -10°C for alpine areas. To add additional warmth you can add in an “inner sheet” or more commonly referred to as sleeping bag liner. These are often cotton or silk materials, depending on the weight to warmth ratio you are looking to add. When purchasing a sleeping bag, there are many considerations. Do you want a down or synthetic sleeping bag? Do you typically sleep warm or cold? This can help determine how warm of a bag you may need. Do you want something lightweight? Lightweight sleeping bags typically have more of a mummy shape (tapered toe box) and less zippers, meaning less variations for sleeping.
- Sleeping mat
Sleeping mats differentiate based on their thickness, their R-value, whether they are self-inflating or if you manually fill them with air. Depending on if you’re a back sleeper, side sleeper, stomach sleeper, certain mats will be more or less comfortable for you. If you can, we recommend coming to see us in store and trying a few of them to see what you like best. R-value is a mat’s ability to resist heat loss to the ground, a higher R-value will provide more warmth. Mats will range in thickness and as such the space they take up in your overnight bag. Self- inflating mats typically aim to be favourites amongst ultralight walkers, whereas air inflating (where you blow up the mat with a bag) tend to be larger.
- Waterproof jacket with hood
Here there is the transition from weatherproof to waterproof. Alpine environments don’t joke around when it comes to wilder weather, so be sure to have a solid jacket that has a hood, is seam sealed to ensure water doesn’t leak in. Having a breathable fabric helps to ensure you don’t overheat, underarm zippers are a feature to look for. Gore-Tex is a waterproof fabric and many other brands have reliable waterproof options, but that aren’t Gore-Tex. Other brands that we stock such as The North Face Future Light and all of One Planet’s range are not Gore-Tex, but they are waterproof.
- Waterproof pants (seam sealed and breathable fabric)
Many rain pants have zippers along the sides to help slip them on or off over your hiking boots/ shoes rather than needing to take your shoes off. Whether you’re on a narrow trail and there is a morning dew, constantly rubbing against these bushes will begin to saturate your pants, having that extra layer of waterproof pants means you can keep playing wilder.
- Quick-dry walking clothes
Parks Tasmania recommends a long sleeve shirt, shorts/trousers, fleece jacket—avoid denim and cotton. Most of our team walk in shorts (with gaiters) and switch into long pants for the end of the day. Hiking tights are also a great option for women now too with pockets. We also typically avoid fleece for longer walks due its weight and opt for a synthetic mid-layer and a down jacket for added warmth at camp.
- Camp clothes stored in waterproof bag
Be prepared for changing weather despite forecasts, always wear layers, and pack rain gear. Being wet and/or cold is never a good mix when in wilder places, potentially causing you to be more prone to injuries. Depending on the season and where you're journeying, insulating layers for tops and bottoms, gloves, neck tubes, and extra socks, are all recommended items to keep you enjoying your time out on the trail. Storing these in a dry bag is best practice when they aren’t being used to ensure that they stay dry, even if your pack liner fails. On large multi day walks, we also suggest you have a backup set of clothes. These are your emergency items, spare socks, base layers, etc. These aren’t to be used if the clothes you wear day in and day out start to smell or you don’t like what you chose for camp clothes, but only if you are wet and cold you can go into this clothing reserve to keep you safe.
- Camp clothes in waterproof bag
These are your warm layers to change into when you get to camp. Whether in a hut or camping in a tent, you should have sufficient items to keep you warm based on the idea that you will be sleeping in your tent. If the hut is full or if you are unable to reach the hut, having the right clothes to keep you warm can make or break your trip. Again, best practice to store these in a dry bag so that you always have something dry to change into when that bone-chilling wetness gets to you after a big day in the rain.
- Toilet trowel and toilet paper
When mother nature calls, she often doesn’t wait. Some overnight walks have bush toilets, but not all. Also many walks that have toilet facilities, don’t have toilet paper, so keep this in mind and always pack extra. When needing to use the toilet, ensure you are at least 15m off the trail and away from any water source to avoid contamination. Use your trowel to dig a cat hole at least 15cm deep, do your business and then place the original soil back over your hole. Before you set out, we highly recommend you familiarise yourself and your group members with Leave No Trace principles. These are guidelines that help you determine how to keep our wilder places wild, while still enjoying them.
- Basic personal toiletries
Be sure not to forget to pack your toothbrush and toothpaste! As well as any personal medication that you take on a daily basis.
- Antibacterial gel
For the few huts that do have toilets facilities,
- PLB (Personal Locator Beacon)
These can be rented from many Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Visitor Centres. Just be sure to check in with the Visitor Centre prior to arrival to ensure they do stock them and that there is still availability. These serve as an emergency gadget, which notifies emergency personnel when you are in need while out into wilder places. When cell phone reception is unreliable, these devices are able to determine your location via GPS and send a message through either government or commercial satellites of your emergency.
- Map (mobile phones cannot be relied on in remote areas & a printed map is a necessity)
The more detailed maps that are no longer in production are a 1:100,000 scale. However, many walks have maps specific to that region. Topographic maps should be carried for all adventures, unless it is a highly visited trail with very clear pathways. Plus, be sure to have a waterproof case to keep it in. If using digital maps in conjunction with a printed map, remember phone batteries drain faster than you would expect, so try not to have this be your sole navigation option. Avenza maps is an app that many of our staff use, these are paid but can be used offline, allow you to measure rough distances between spots, align with many other features. In addition to a map, consider a compass, altimeter watch, or GPS device.
Compasses accompanied by map-reading abilities are an essential skill if you become lost while in wilder places. Many watches have compasses integrated these days, but having a lightweight back-up that takes up hardly any space or weight can be a real lifesaver. Although not a necessity, altimeter watches can help you to gage where you are on a map based on your estimated elevation. Many handheld devices can now be brought into wilder places to help locate you on a digital map. These rugged devices do have a battery life to keep in mind, so for extended trips be sure to prepare ahead in the event that you do need to use it.
- Fuel stove and fuel
Having a portable stove to serve as a heat and water source can be indispensable, on top of using it for cooking. Be sure to check how full your fuel canisters are before setting out, if you have used them on a past trip. It’s easy to store them after your last trip but when you go to use it again, only to realise it’s near empty and you can’t quite make a round of hot chocolates for the team.
- Lighter and matches
Matches should be waterproof or in a waterproof container. We often have a small lighter in our cooking/ food drybag and another in our first aid kit in the event that one fails or is misplaced. Additionally, having some form of repair kit and tools can come in incredibly handy for preparing meals, but also for first-aid, minor repairs on packs or tents, building shelters, and whatever else may arise. Items such as duct tape, trowel, knives, zip ties, safety pins, tenacious tape, and tent/ sleeping pad repair kits are all items to consider bringing along.
Consider food that is lightweight and energy-dense when preparing for your next overnight trip. Be sure to take a few minutes before you pack to remove excess packaging. Think about mainly easy to prepare foods while out on the trail. Depending on the length of your trip, your extra food may range from one extra meal to one or more days’ worth of extra food.
See our recent blog on all things: Meal Ideas
- Cooking and eating utensils
Think cutlery, bowls, and sharp knives. Although getting creative when you forget your utensils should be considered an artform. We think Sea to Summit have created a great line up for silicone bowls (X-bowl & XL-bowl) that double as bowls, plates, and the bottoms as chopping boards, talk about multi-functional! The whole Sea to Summit X series nestle into one another and provides plenty of options without excess space or weight.
- Water bottle(s) or bladder, capable of carrying 2-3 litres
Think about carrying water beyond the minimum expectation and in relation to the length of your trip. Having collapsible water bottles can save space if that is your preference while others prefer the ease of water bladders. Research the area you’re going to, does it have rain tanks? If so, do they dry out in summer? Carrying water filtration tablets, or purifiers is highly recommended in addition to electrolyte tablets. Otherwise, use your cooking stove to a rolling boil and allow water to stay boiling for 3 minutes in order to avoid harmful microorganisms.
- Torch / head-torch and spare batteries
Everyone heading outdoors should have their own head torch, accompanied by spare batteries. Whether a short delay, or last-minute decision to stay for the sunset, this can leave you returning in the dark making navigation difficult and the possibility for injuries easy. Having your hands free is the ideal choice for most wilder adventures, and keep in mind that your phone’s flashlight is not a reliable source.
Alpine walks (in addition to The Basics & Overnight Gear)
- Warm clothing
We like insulation garments that are not necessarily made from fleece or wool. This is thanks to their high warmth to weight ratios. Additionally packing a hat, gloves and a neck warmer are necessities. Finding waterproof gloves can at times be difficult. Pick up a pair of dishwashing gloves from your local supermarket and place these overtop of your gloves to keep them dry. Bring a few elastics and place these towards the top of your dishwashing glove to help seal out any rain as they can begin to roll down.
- Thermal under layers (long sleeve top, long pants)
We hope this list helps you to get into wilder places, answer some common questions, and provide resources for what kind of gear you may want to take with you.