Kayla Stuart is an instructor at Hillary Outdoors in the Central Plateau. Each week she uses the outdoors as a medium to teach youth development skills like teamwork, communication, co-operation and leadership. Here’s what she packs.
I use a polypro or merino thermal top and bottoms and a polar fleece jersey. They keep me warm even when they are wet and they dry quickly. I also carry a lightweight synthetic insulated jacket for those cold southerly winds and it also makes a great pillow.
For the mountains, anything made from Gore-Tex and with a hood is great. I really like Earth Sea Sky Rocket Salopettes rain pants and the Zeal Guide rain jacket because they keep me super dry and are durable. In the bush, I use a Stoney Creek hunting-style jacket that can survive the dense North Island bush.
My MSR Hubba Hubba is great as both a bush and mountain tent. It’s lightweight, spacious and with a footprint is sturdy enough.
At Hillary Outdoors we must always have two means of communication, just in case one doesn’t work. In general, a cell phone and a digital mobile radio are enough. If we’re going somewhere more isolated, we carry a PLB. I also carry a waterproof first aid kit, water purification tablets, and my Hillary Outdoors Tier 2 Safety Handbook.
It’s important I sleep well because I need to keep sharp and be on to it in the field with my groups. I’m a cold sleeper and for that reason, I sacrifice lightweight gear for warmth. That means using a Mountain Equipment Glacier 750 down sleeping bag and a fully-insulated Exped down mat for cold winter nights in the mountains.
With groups, I love to use Biolite stoves. They’re carbon positive so are great for the environment. We take a sandwich-sized snaplock bag filled with wood pellets and that will do a group of 10 students about four meals. If we run out of pellets, we can burn twigs found in the bush. I bury the ash and charcoal, which helps make the soil fertile. The stoves are a good tool for teaching environmental education and, while cooking and eating, to bring about discussions on how we can all help the environment.
I use an Osprey Viva 65-litre pack. Osprey packs come with a good warranty and they have lots of handy features which are perfect for attaching specialist mountain equipment too.
I love my one-litre Nalgene. At night, I fill it with hot water and put it inside my sleeping bag.
I wear La Sportiva Karakorum boots because they are made from leather and are really sturdy. They can cope in the snow and are still comfortable enough for bush trips. Gaiters are also a must-have.
Sun hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, beanie and warm gloves because head and hands are where we lose most of our body warmth. A Buff is super handy for keeping hair out of my face or creating a thin beanie for under a helmet.