Author and super-tramper Geoff Spearpoint enjoys chasing fine weather in the hills with a light pack and good friends. Here’s what he packs.
I’ve used an MSR Whisperlite above the bushline for years, but a Jetboil has taken over on shorter trips. Below the bushline, I’ll often use a small fire to cook over. It’s much nicer, and is just a matter of being careful, never leaving it unattended, extinguishing it fully and restoring the site. I carry birthday candles as fire starters, and a blackened billy in a nylon bag.
For many years my go-to tent has been a two-person Macpac Minaret. It’s simple, with various pitching options, but it’s heavy for what it is.
Sleeping bag and mat
Not being cold at night is important to me. I use an REI Co-op Magma 15 sleeping bag, which weighs 800g. Filled with water-resistant 850 down, it has a temperature rating of -9ºC, which works well for me. My mattress is a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Uberlite, which is expensive but light.
I pack a light short sleeve top, a long sleeve glacier shirt with the cuffs removed, fleece pants and jacket, and very light Macpac Alpine Series Hightail overtrousers. A light Fairydown down jacket with a homemade single layer nylon hood, a thin polypro balaclava and light Montane PrimaLoft mitts.
For several years I have been wearing Asolo Sasslong GV boots – a wide fitting and stiff-soled boot that fit me like a glove, with a pair of midweight Sea to Summit gaiters. I keep an Oringi parka for wet trips and hut maintenance work, and use a waterproof Marmot shell on alpine trips.
For multi-day transalpine trips, this simple Hyperlite 4400 Ice Pack with 70l capacity is ideal. I’ve seen one fall down high bluffs, crunching into rock walls and suffer only minor cuts. It is a roll-top (no hood). I always use a waterproof pack liner and keep essentials in a light drybag near the top. It’s comfy to wear and weighs less than 1200g. Weight is a major consideration.
A PLB, first aid kit. map, compass, lighter, headlamp, spare batteries, knife and a small spoon, 3B1 notebook, glasses, pen, and often a bit of marking tape to help maintain tracks.
Good, lightweight photographic gear is essential. I use a mirrorless Fujifilm X-T10 digital camera with an APSC sensor and zoom lens with graduated neutral density filters. It has a built-in flash and everything from fully auto to fully manual provides maximum flexibility.
When going to places like the Bracken Snowfield or the Olivine Ice Plateau, I carry simple equipment designed to get me through. An ice axe, crampons, Petzl Altitude harness, about 35m of 7mm cord, a few carabiners, a couple of slings and prussicks, and accept operating within those limitations. I use an Italian hitch to belay. Sometimes a helmet (Petzl ‘Sirocco’), but not always.