Showing posts with label Tramping Tents. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tramping Tents. Show all posts

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

What gear do I need to tramp in New Zealand?

A roundup of required tramping gear...New Zealand edition!

If you are new to New Zealand or tramping it is a good idea to know what kind of gear you need to take with you. The length of your trip and the activities you intend to undertake play the most important role in deciding what gear you carry. Obviously going on a short walk  requires less gear than a hard core multi-day tramp.

Equipped for a day walk...walking the Bealey Spur Track in 2015

Another factor to consider is the climate and terrain you expect to encounter...what height will you reach and how will this affect your gear needs? Do you require specialist cold weather clothing? Is an ice axe and crampons needed due to ice and snow? Will specialist climbing gear be required? Is there a large storm front due in the next couple of days and what will this mean to your plans?

Through planning is required to ensure you have the right equipment to survive in our harsh environment.

Ice axe and crampons..extra weight but vital gear in snow and ice...

Imagine the worst case scenario, you fall and incapacitate are stuck where you are. Will the gear you carry allow you to treat any injuries, alert the authorities and keep you alive until they arrive?

If the answer to any of these question is NO then you are ill equipped.If you cannot survive for 24 hours with the contents of your pack then you need to rethink your gear list.

The golden rule is to be totally self sufficient!

Ensure you have enough gear to survive 24 hours..?

The other side of the equation is just as important..don't carry more gear than absolutely necessary. The weight will fatigue you and it will certainly slow you down. Think like a long trail hiker...carry only what you need and nothing more.

Check the weather before going out... many an Army NCO said to me, remember the 6 P's: Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance!!!

The clothing you wear is important

You need to think about the clothing you are wearing as well as the gear in your pack. If you are a fair weather tramper then it is probably going to be technical underwear, t-shirt and shorts with outdoor shoes or boots on your feet. This will be supplemented by long sleeved tops for cold weather and possibly a warm mid layer and jacket as required.

My standard tramping attire:technical shirt, nylon shorts, tramping socks and boots

All of your gear should be made from quick drying, wicking materials, these include nylon, polyester, merino wool, silk and bamboo. Never wear is slow to dry and saps heat from your body when wet...keep your cotton for that summer trip to Nelson.

All of my clothing options laid out...all made from merino or technical materials

Here is the gear I wear 90% of the time when tramping, regardless of whether it is a day or multi day tramp:

  • A generic technical shirt, 100% polyester, nylon, polypropylene or merino
  • Nylon sports shorts
  • Polyester sports underwear, boxers by preference
  • Boots, I am currently wearing Lowa Ranger III's/ Lowa Tibets . I also wear mountain running shoes on the shorter/easier trails
  • Technical tramping socks: I wear Bridgedale boot socks and Icebreaker running socks, merino & technical blends by choice
  • A ball cap or wide brim hat depending on the sun level

My typical summer time clothing 'system'...although I hate the term system: shorts, t shirt, boots and hat

Protect your ears...turn that ball cap into a Kepi by pinning a bandana to the rim...

Here is a link to a post about the JMOCS or Jon Moake Outdoor Clothing System ..hahahahahaha... I love those useless military sounding abbreviations.

Going for a short walk

There are a multitude of short walks around New Zealand which allow you to experience the great outdoors. These range from the 10 minute strolls right up to the 3+ hours tracks to points of interest. The amount of gear you take must reflect the risk factors of the track you are on. It pays to remember that the weather in New Zealand is notoriously fickle so be prepared for anything.

My daughter Juliet and I on a short walk at Mt Peel Forest in 2016

For any walk up to an hour you should be carrying:

  • A small pack,  15-20l for carting your gear in
  • A wet weather jacket, with hood, wind and waterproof
  • A warm top...a 200gms fleece is good
  • A warm hat: wool or fleece 
  • Map of the tracks you are walking
  • Water bottle
  • Snack foods: lunch if it is that time of the day
  • A cellphone or PLB  if no cell coverage
  • Your wallet and car keys
 This small amount of gear will keep you comfortable as you enjoy a coffee at a handy cafe, check out a track alongside a beautiful river or hike up to that iconic waterfall.

A DOC safety message in the Avalanche Creek Shelter, Arthur's Pass

Day tramping...still requires preparation!

Going for a day tramp (i.e. more than 2 hours in duration) requires almost as much planning/equipment as a much longer trip. A higher percentage of SAR rescues are for day trampers than multi-day trampers...probably because day trampers fail to take enough gear to navigate & survive in the bush.

If something hampers your mobility then it is very easy for the dark, rain, wind and cold to take their toll.

Jon on a day wak to the Lewis Pass Tops in 2017

You need to be totally self sufficient for at least 24 hour any time you are more than one hour away from civilisation.

Typical Day tramp gear: Pack, spare warm clothing, first aid, food/water and wet weather gear

Here is my list of vital gear for a day tramp anywhere in New Zealand:

  • Pack, 20-45 litres in volume, single compartment preferred
  • A rugged plastic bag/pack liner to keep your gear dry in your pack- can also be used for an emergency rain fly if needed
  • Wet weather jacket, with hood, wind and water proof
  • Warm top: polar-fleece, merino or down jacket
  • Wet weather over-trousers, wind and water proof
  • Warm hat, merino gloves, over-gloves (I use OR brand Gortex over-mitts)
  • Spare clothing: merino base layer, merino legging, socks
  • First aid kit plus material for treating blisters
  • Personal locator beacon, ACR ResQLink
  • Map and compass or a GPS receiver
  • Head torch, Black Diamond (not in photo)
  • Breathable emergency bivy bag (SOL)
  • Water bottles X2 (for 2 litres of water)
  • A sharp knife...a little Victorix is fine not that 12" pig sticker you own...
  • High energy food: snacks, drink powders, fruit, nuts, sandwiches, crackers and cheese etc. 
  • Sun hat, buff or cap
  • Camera, car keys and wallet (an eftpos card, spare cash and drivers license)

Store loose gear in plastic bags or sil-nylon bags, it is tidier and easier to find gear inside a pack if it is tidy. I have a colour coding system:

blue=clothing, red=cooking, orange=safety gear, yellow=food, black=miscellaneous.

Warm clothing: merino leggings, merino long sleeved top, fleece hat and polypropylene gloves

Here are some photos of this gear laid out so you can see what I carry...

My Vaude Brenta 401 day pack: wet weather gear and warm clothing

Safety and survival gear for 24 hours...note the PLB, first aid kit and emergency bivy

My Vaude Brenta 40l pack is exactly the right size to hold all of this gear, fully loaded it weighs approximately 4.5 kgs. Some might say this is over kill for a day tramp but I am a cautious guy and I'm often alone so I tend to err on the side of caution.

The Vaude Brenta 40L on the Bealey Valley Track, 2018

In the past I have also used my Brenta 50l pack for day tramps, this was the reason I brought it in the first place. It is really too big for the task...lots of empty space and extra weight I don't need to carry.

Using the Vaude Brenta 50l in the Otira Valley in 2016

Overnight Tramps: Packs, boots and tents...

Now we turn to overnight and multi-day tramps, obviously the length of your trip and if you are tenting or staying in a hut will make a difference to your equipment. This means a slightly larger pack is required to haul all that gear.

Again the aim is to be totally self sufficient for at least 24 and up to 72 hours.

1-3 nights..light but not Spartan

Regardless of the number of nights you are spending on your tramp a lot of the gear you carry for a one night tramp is also required on a tramp up to a week in length. The main variable will be the amount of food/fuel you are carrying and if you need to carry a tent etc..  

My base equipment for an overnight tramp: no tent and no food..

On top of the gear you carry for a day tramp you will also require the following:

  • Medium/large size pack, 50-75 litres in volume
  • Sleeping bag, down or synthetic, sub 1kg if possible
  • Sleeping bag liner: silk is best also the lightest
  • Extra clothing: a second shirt for camp wear, extra socks, spare underwear
  • Food: breakfast, lunch and dinner for all the days you will be tramping in a sil-nylon food bag
  • Cook pot, a fork, spoon and knife, plastic bags, Chux cloth, the pot should be around 1 litre and titanium or anodized aluminium
  • Cooker, lightweight either canister gas or mineral spirits work best
  • Lighters...I carry three as I often leave them in huts etc. for other people to use
  • Lightweight pack repair kit: spare belt buckle, harness buckle, wire, pull ties, mesh and thread
  • Toiletries: tooth brush, camp soap, comb, technical towel (small), a bandanna
  • toilet paper, there is none in a back-country hut 
  • Hut pass or DOC hut tickets. Pay for your exceptions!
  • Bug repellent and a head net (optional)
  • Hut footwear- light, jandals/sandals/Crocs (optional)
  • Candles for hut use (optional)
  • Something to read: book or Kindle (optional)

Overnight tramp: 53L pack, wet weather gear, spare clothing...

With a few tweaks, the gear you carry for 1-3 days is perfectly adaptable to use for 10 days or even longer.

Overnight tramp:cooking, sleeping, safety, toiletries and medical equipment

This gear load-out is basically the same I carry while section hiking the Te Araroa Trail so in reality you could survive for a couple of months with just this gear. You have to wash clothing periodically of course although having smelt a hut full of fellow TA hikers you sometimes wonder....

My Osprey Atmos AG pack in Anti Crow Hut, on the way to the Upper Waimakariri River

Remember: carry only what you absolutely not load yourself down with soul sapping dead weight.

3+ days....more food required!

 There are only a few differences between a gear list for a 1-3 day trip and a longer affair. We exchange the Osprey Atmos for either my Vaude Accent or my Osprey Volt, both in the 65-75 litre range. These are both spacious enough to allow all my gear to be carried internally.

Using my Vaude Accent on the Abel Tasman in2017

A tramp of more than three days will entail a massive increase in the amount of food you need to carry. While you can get by with a limited menu for 1-2 days any longer than this means you have to start thinking carefully about nutrition. You are looking at 600-750gms per day of food to keep you healthy so this means a lot of extra weight and space.

I will look at tramping food in an separate post.

My base load for a 1-10 day tramp, using a tent....

 The other item you will need is some kind of shelter; in this case a ultralight one person tent. Even if you intend to stay in a hut you must have some form of may not make it to the hut or it might be full. It is no fun sleeping outside in the rain with no over head shelter which happens more often than you might think.

My two person Luxe Firstlight tent set up at Bay of Many Coves campsite, QCT

If you are using a tarp or tent then of course you also need a sleeping mat and a ground sheet. I use a piece of Tyvek for a ground sheet, this is waterproof and protects my floor area. I sometimes carry a rain fly but most often use a 1 person tent.

My main tent is a Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 1, my sleeping mat is a Pacific Outdoor thermal insulated mat.

My Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 set up in Totaranui Campgrounds, Abel Tasman NP

Here are some photos of the gear laid out prior to a tramping trip..

Overnight tramp: 75L pack, wet weather gear, spare clothing, tent, ground mat...

Overnight tramp:cooking, sleeping system, safety gear, toiletries and medical equipment

My main multi-day pack is a Osprey Volt 75 (1.75 kgs), this has been my main heavy load carrier since the beginning of 2018. It is super comfortable, roomy and can easily hold up to ten days worth of food and gear.

My Osprey Volt on the track to Speargrass Hut, Nelson Lakes NP

Carting the Osprey Volt on the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk in September 2018

My other pack in the 'big load' category is a Vaude Accent 65+10 litres (2 kgs), this was my main overnight pack from 2011-2017. I still use this on occasion but it is hard to argue with the 300gms weight difference between the two packs.

The newer Osprey pack is much lighter and more comfortable to carry.

My Vaude Accent pack in the East Hawdon Valley, 2013

To recap, extra gear you need for for a +3 day tramp:

  • Shelter: tent, bivy bag or tarp or you can sleep in a DOC hut if available
  • Sleeping mat, insulated
  • Ground sheet for the tent/tarp: store brought, Tyvek, plastic sheeting or space blanket
  • A LOT of food...the main weight of your pack really

I hope that provides some useful guidelines on what you need to carry.

Jon atop MacKinnon Pass, Milford Track in December 2018

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

My tramping gear: Shelters - Hiking Fly + Luxe Lightwave + Coleman Spirit 2 + Coleman Coastline 3 + Copper Spur UL 1 + SOL Bivvy Bag

Of tents, fly sheets and shelters...

When you go out into the back-country you often need to carry your own shelter with you. It might be you are camping out, or you might carry a shelter for emergencies...full huts, benighted trips etc.

My Luxe tent in the Cowshed Bay camp-ground on the Queen Charlotte Track in 2016

To cover these eventualities I carry tarps/fly sheets, tents and bivvy bags depending on the conditions I expect to encounter. 

Fly sheets/shelters/tarps

A fly or tarp is a lightweight nylon sheet used to provide shelter from rain, sleet and snow. Their main advantage is lightweight and the ability to cook under them.

Oztrail hiking fly

I usually carry a  Oztrail hiking fly which I use as an emergency shelter when expecting an over full hut.Total weight with guys/pegs + a Sea to Summit bug net is only 1 kg. I have never needed it as an emergency shelter as I have yet to arrive at a hut so full to the brim that I couldn't even sleep on the floor.

The Oz Trail Hiker Fly
Specifications are:

Oztrail Hiker Fly, 3.5(W) x2.1(H), 850gms (with pegs)+
Sea to Summit 1 person bug net, 240gms

Oz Trail Hiker fly in use on Mt Oxford

I would use this all of the time as I find flysheets to be very adaptable shelters, but they are not always the best choice especially in areas with a large bug population (most of the South Island of NZ especially the West Coast and Fiordland).

 Flys are not ideal for tops shelter either, as wind can damage them very easily. On the tops you really need the more durable shelter offered by a quality tent.

A selection of shelters you can make with your standard rectangular tarp

There are many online articles dealing with the subject of tarps, one of the best I have seen is on the Section Hiker website. 


 I currently have four tents which I use, one is my main solo tent I take with me on the majority of my trips. Two are used as two person shelters depending on the weather conditions I expect to encounter. The last is a larger three person base camp tent I brought as I intend to do a few trips where I car camp and go for tramps during the day.

My sleeping gear set up in my Luxe tent, QCT 2016

Big Agnes Coper Spur UL 1

I brought a new light weight tent for my Te Araroa Trail  thru-hike, it is the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 1 tent. This is a true free standing3+season tent which weighs a light 1 kg. I brought this in a 2017 summer sale for only $450 down from the usual price of over $700 NZD.

Specifications are:

Copper Spur UL 1, 2.24(L)x1.10(W)x98(H)cm, 1 kg

Copper Spur UL 1: fast shelter only
Big Agnes have a good name with trampers and hikers the world over. Their gear is top quality and much favoured by the long trail community as they have taken the message of weight loss seriously in all of their products.

Copper Spur UL 1: no fly

Copper Spur UL 1: fly fitted but open

Copper Spur UL 1: fly closed

I will use this tent if planning to camp and continue to carry my hikers tarp/fly + bug net combo when I expect to be in a hut.

My Big Agnes Copper Spur 1 set up in the Totaranui camp grounds, April 2018

Luxe- Lightwave
I invested in a lightweight 1-2 person tent from the Chinese company Luxe back in 2015.  After a lot of searching and comparison I went with the Luxe Lightwave, it is 1.28 kg, tunnel shaped for wind resistance and has an large annex for my pack.

This has served my needs nicely, the NZD $280 price was also very competitive.

Specifications are:

Luxe Lightwave II, 2.4(L) x 1.55(W)x1.05(H)cm, 1.3 kg

Luxe Lightwave tent
Luxe is a newer Chinese outdoor company, quality looks to be comparable to well known brands like Vaude/ MSR/ Exped/Marmot etc. I have read some very good reviews for Luxe gear. In use since 2015 I have found it to be a reliable, durable and roomy tent.

Luxe Lightwave in use on the QCT, 2016
Me in my Luxe Lightwave on the QCT, 2016

The Lightwave in action on the QCT

I will use this tent if I have a tramping companion and continue to carry my Copper Spur UL 1 or tarp set-up when I expect to be in a hut or camping by myself.
Luxe Lightwave II floor plan

This tent has now been superseded by my Big Agnes UL 1 as my main tramping tent although I will still be using it from time to time as circumstances dictate. 

Coleman Spirit 2

 My other two person tent is a Coleman Spirit 2 person tent, this is a excellent tent- roomy, good ventilation, stable and waterproof.

Specifications are:
Coleman ‘Spirit 2′ (small 2 person) 2.6(L) x 1.4(W) x 1.0(H), 1.9kg
The Coleman Spirit 2 tent

The Spirit 2 is a one pole or "hoop" design, it is not free standing and must be pegged to the ground to allow it to stand. You have to be very careful when selecting a tent site as these one pole designs are prone to collapse in strong wind. That said, I have used this tent in strong Nor'Wester winds and it was very secure.

Another view of the Coleman Spirit 2 tent

I have replaced the heavy steel pegs with triangular aluminium for a saving of over 100 gms. Unfortunately, it is still a bit heavy at 1.9kg for a solo shelter, I continue to use this as a true 2 person tent or as a base camp shelter.

The Coleman Spirit in use, Ryde Falls Campsite, Mt Oxford Forest 2013

Coleman Coastline 3 Tent 

I intend to do a bit of base camp tramping going into the future, this is where you choose a location and do a number of tramps while staying at the same place each night. In other words this is for car camping only.

Entrance to the Kerr Bay camp ground, St Arnauld

To facilitate this I have purchased a larger three person tent, a Coleman Coastline 3. I am also working my way through a list of other camping equipment: gas stove, a couple of seats, chilly bin, cooking gear and a larger two person sleeping mat.

The Coleman Coastline 3 tent

Dimensions of the Coleman Coastline 3 tent

Other aspects of the Coleman Coastline 3 tent I purchased

The Coleman Coastline 3 is a large single room tent with side windows and an extended vestibule. Other features include:
  • Large d-doors front and rear for easy access
  • Floored front vestibule area to keep the tent dry and clean
  • Colour coded poles to ensure easy and correct set up
  • Generously sized carry bag
  • 2 Year satisfaction warranty

Heavy duty PU floor in the Coleman Coastline 3
 Some of the specifications for the tent are:
Size: 260L x 225W x 140H + 160V cm
Material: 75D/Taped seams, 2000mm proofed Fly, PE flooring.
Frame: 9.5mm/8.5mm Durawrap Fibreglass poles
Weight: 7.60kg

SOL Survival Bivy Bag

If I am out on a day trip and expect to be home by nightfall I obviously don't want to carry a tent/fly with me. Safety dictates that I should be carrying some form of cover in case of accident, getting lost, or being forced to spend a night outdoors.

I carry a SOL Bivvy Bag which is basically a emergency "space blanket" in the form of a bag. 

These bags reflect body heat to keep the occupant warm (...ish...I have slept out in an older style survival bag and it was a bit chilly even with a fleece on...), it would be uncomfortable but at least you would survive the night.

One of the problems with these survival bags is condensation, happily the SOL bag is breathable which negates the condensation problem entirely.

Weight of these is about 250gms, they cost $90-$100 from most New Zealand outdoor stores.

Camp-site cooking shelters

Something you will see if you are camping on the DOC estate are cooking shelters. You most often see these on the Great Walks and other front country tracks but they are also present in more remote locations as well. 

Davies Bay cooking shelter, Queen Charlotte Track

These can range from the simplest of overhead cover to mini huts but all will feature some or all of the following amenities:

  • cooking benches, either aluminium or stainless steel
  • a sink for washing dishes
  • a stream, fresh water source or rainwater storage tanks
  • seating of some type, normally fixed benches
  • toilets, either attached or nearby

During the afternoon, early evening and in the morning these will often be the focal point of life in a DOC camp site. Here are some photos of various cooking shelters I have visited. 

Cooking shelters: Bay of Many Coves, Queen Charlotte Track

Cooking shelters: Anchorage shelter, Abel Tasman NP

Cooking shelters: Kerr Bay camp ground, St Armaud

Cooking Shelters: inside Avalanche Peak shelter, Arthur's Pass NP

The camp site cooking shelter at Onetahuiti Beach, Abel Tasman NP

The imposing camp-site shelter at Pelorous Bridge camp grounds

Bark Bay cooking shelter, Abel Tasman NP