The following list of gear is a guide to what you need to bring on a typical overnight bushwalk. This list may look daunting now, but it becomes ‘automatic’ after you’ve done a few overnight hiking trips.
- Overnight pack (usually about 70L capacity; up to 90L for extra long trips). Aiking/One Planet packs are cheap (made in Australia) and good quality. Macpac packs are very tough and almost waterproof, but very expensive.
- Water bottles with water. You should carry 2L per person in moderate temperatures with water available, and up to 6L/day/person in very hot and dry conditions when water may not be available. Old juice and spring water etc. bottles that don’t leak make good water bottles if you don’t want to buy them. Camelbak tankers are good (since you drink from a hose and don’t have to stop to pull water bottles out of your pack), but they’re expensive. 1L Nalgene containers are cheap and don’t leak, and this brand is also good for leak-proof containers of all sizes (buy from outdoor stores).
- Hiking tent (one per two people). Choose a tent suitable for the conditions expected.
- Sleeping bag. Rated appropriately for the season and walking area. The club has a small number.
- Hat. Absolutely essential; the Australian sun will burn you nicely if you forget it.
- Sunscreen. Look for ‘SPF 15’ or ‘SPF 30’. (See comment for hat!)
- Torch. Small Maglite torches are bright and quite good (and not too expensive), but headlamps are best since they leave your hands free. Petzl headlamps are good and reliable (but also expensive).
- Map and compass. Topographic maps (1:50000 or 1:25000) are essential if you plan to walk off track. Silva compasses are excellent and not too expensive.
- Rain jacket. Gore-tex is best (since it breathes to get rid of perspiration) but expensive. Large garbage bag or poncho will do if you really don’t have one and you don t expect rain!
- Warm jacket or jumper. Preferably one that keeps out wind. Polar fleece (which comes in regular or wind-proof windstopper) is the best.
- Spare cotton shirt. It is good to have at least one dry (i.e. warm) shirt change if one gets wet or sweaty
Shorts. e.g. cotton or bike pants
- Long pants. Warm. Also some pants for walking (e.g. sports/track pants)
- Beanie/gloves. Particularly if you get cold easily
- Underwear. Good to change after hiking. On longer trips, one change per 1-2 days to stop you getting too smelly.
- Thermal underwear (top and pants). Excellent for most trips-light, warm (even when wet), dries quickly and comfortable. You can almost live in it! Mountain Designs brand is cheap and good quality. On colder trips (e.g. Tas), 2 pairs (top/pants) are good so that you can use one for hiking and one for bed.
- Stove. Trangia or MSR (1 stove per 2 or 3 people).
- Fuel. Methylated spirits for Trangia or shellite for MSR (both from supermarket).
- Utensils. Bowl, knife, fork, spoon, cup (plastic or light stainless steel or enamel), cooking saucepans if using MSR stove.
- Washing up items. Scourer/sponge (small piece, one for each day so you can just get rid of it rather than cleaning it), washing up liquid (best is biodegradable wash from outdoor stores that can double as soap, shampoo etc., but normal will be OK)
- Matches. Bring extra; seal in separate snap-lock bags so that if one box gets wet you ll still have some left. Can also take a cigarette lighter.
Food & Drinks
- Milo/other hot chocolate drink
- Powdered milk or sweetened condensed milk. (latter in tubes, not tins)
- Cup-a-soup. (in sachets, just add boiling water)
- Cereal. Muesli is good and filling and takes up less space than other cereals
- Dried fruit. Good for energy and snacking.
- Bread. Dense breads (e.g. Burgen, pumpernickel) and flat breads (e.g. Indian naan, pita bread in sealed packets) have a high amount of energy for their weight and keep well.
- Crackers. Ryvita and Vita-Weets are good.
- Spreads. Jam (put in leakproof plastic container or food tube from outdoor stores), peanut butter, pesto
- Cheese. Processed cheese (e.g. Kraft processed, Gruyere pieces available in non-refrigerated section in supermarket) keeps well
- Meat. Sausage (e.g. mettwurst) tastes good and keeps well. (Buy whole sausage, not slices!)
- Fresh food. Heavy and usually goes rotten soon, so keep to a minimum. For example, hard boiled eggs (leave in shell); fruit (not too squashy – e.g. apples, citrus); vegetables (snow peas, mushrooms)
- Dried fruit
- Chocolate (heaps if it is going to be very cold and/or hard)
- Muesli bars. Almost essential.
- Sweets e.g. glucose lollies like snakes
- Pasta. Buy in packets.
- Dried vegetables e.g. ‘Surprise’ dried peas, corn, carrots.
- Tuna in packets. ‘Heinz’ makes tuna wrapped in foil sachets (don’t buy tins – they’re heavy and have to be carried out as rubbish).
- Couscous. Good if you have lots of water.
- Instant mashed potato mix e.g. ‘Deb’.
- Spices/sauces. ‘Dolmio’ stir-through pasta sauce (in packets, not jars), stock cubes etc. Whatever you like that isn’t heavy (and will save you from death by boring pasta on long trips)
- Cheese as for lunch. Makes things taste much better (e.g. ‘Deb’).
- Band aids
- Triangular bandage (x1)
- Gauze swabs
- Needle or splinter removers
- Compression bandages (x2)
- Pain killers (paracetamol, paracetamol + codeine)
- Sterile pads and first aid tape
- Lightweight first aid book
- Small scissors
- Small tube of antiseptic cream
- Insect repellant depending on where you are going (e.g. stinks but will stop sandflies, mosquitoes etc. when other repellants are useless)
Most of these items can be bought together in a lightweight hikers first aid kit (e.g. from St. John Ambulance), or you can make up your own from the pharmacist.
- Toilet paper. Unscented. Remove cardboard roll. Bring enough for toilet use and other uses, e.g. tissues, pot cleaner etc. (So useful that if you bring extra on a long trip, you can trade it with others for nice things to eat!)
- Trowel. Usually lightweight plastic; from outdoor stores.
- Toothbrush and small tube toothpaste or mostly empty large tube
General tips on packing
You can only carry a maximum of about 30% of your body weight. This is really nasty over long distances, so the best thing to do is reduce the weight as much as you can. In general, if you think you can do without something then leave it out. When packing, try to place most of the weight at the bottom of the pack near to your back. Put items that you may need to access quickly (e.g. water, sunscreen, snacks, rain jacket) in easy-to-reach pockets or (if that isn’t possible) at the top of the main section of the pack. Also, try to pack so that your legs share the weight equally – otherwise the pack will pull you over at every step.