Letter of the month: Know-how, can do
The article ‘Subscribe to outside’, resonated strongly with me – and provided some really helpful advice.
I get many comments, particularly when photo sharing on social media, from people envious or admiring of our family tramping trips. I thought it would be great to organise a family tramping trip with a bunch of kids and their reluctant parents, with a few ‘newbies’ who could take on the adventure with the support of more experienced trampers to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
I didn’t anticipate that within 35 minutes of a Facebook post, I would be booking out all 26 bunks in Waitawheta Hut.
I’m now faced with the exciting challenge of introducing 10 adults and 12 young people aged 6-13 to tramping. The challenge now is to equip the group without deterring them with the expense of all the gear.
Fortunately, Bivouac Outdoors in Tauranga has a set of packs available to hire.
We’ve done training walks together and the kids nailed their first 5km walk on the Otawa Lower Loop with 100 per cent enthusiasm and energy and are going to be a fantastic tramping team.
– Tui Hambrook
A healthy dose of vitamin forest
My family and I immigrated to New Zealand five years ago. One of the major reasons for choosing to move to this beautiful country was because of its diverse and stunning outdoor landscapes.
In our time here, we have made a point to include domestic travel as a significant portion of our family budget. In fact, it’s the second-highest item on the list after the obscene Auckland rents. I can hand on heart say that every dollar spent has been an investment. When we get a little antsy, the kiddos start talking about needing a dose of vitamin forest!
This country is amazing. There is just no other way to describe it.
Wilderness has been instrumental in our journey in evaluating travel options and we absolutely love the photos that other trampers submit. A picture is worth 1000 words.
We found the article ‘Botany for trampers’ extremely valuable to us as we enjoy identifying flora on our hikes.
We have been trying to do a little research on each of the more common plants and animals/birds we can expect to see on our walks and we try to turn that into a treasure hunt for the kids. Each child gets a list of plants and animals they could potentially see along the walk and points for finding them. The one with the most points at the end of the hike gets to choose the post-hike dinner. I don’t know why we offer the prize, they both choose pizza anyway.
Thanks for the great magazine!
– Wayne Potgieter
Packs as heavy as ever
It was interesting to look at the array of multi-day packs on offer, but one thing struck me: weight. Almost all of the packs with a capacity of 65-litres or greater weigh more than 2000g, sometimes almost as much as 3000g.
In this age of lightweight tramping, it seems that most pack manufacturers have simply not kept up with great improvements in reducing weight that we have seen with other products, such as tents, headlamps and boots.
Reducing the weight of your pack is the single best thing you can do to improve your enjoyment, reduce the stress on your joints, and retain your ability to move well over rough terrain. Many of us try to shave off grams here and there, but at least start with a pack that is as light as possible.
I have a 65-litre Macpac Ascent circa 2002, which weighs 1900g and can carry enough food and gear for trans-alpine trips of up to 10 days. Sadly, Macpac no longer makes this pack, and the equivalent from the September feature all weigh considerably more – some by up to 1000g.
Durability of materials is a factor, but my old canvas Ascent, battered though it is, has proved robust. I estimate I have used it for more than 500 days.
I think the harness system of many modern packs is too complicated and weighty. Every extra pocket, zip and strap adds weight. My old Ascent has a very simple, lightweight harness, which is perfectly comfortable, and has only one zip for the top pocket.
Macpac could do this nearly 20 years ago. So why do 10 of the 12 packs featured still weigh over 2000g?
– Shaun Barnett
The dark side of lightweight tramping
Over my 60 years of tramping, I’ve seen the risks of going light.
Someone, halfway through a 10-day tramp, had the sole and upper separate on one of their faithful tramping boots and had no spare footwear and no way to effect a repair; another had their thin nylon pack ripped open by a jagged branch, spilling most of the contents on to the wet ground (my duct tape came to the rescue on both occasions); a mum with two small children on the Kepler Track chose not to carry any eating utensils in order to keep pack weight down and relied on other trampers to share theirs; my wife and I on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing dispensed over half of our first aid kit to deal with other’s blisters; and a young Canadian couple on the Hump Ridge Track, soaked as a result of inadequate rainwear, shivered violently in a cold hut because they had no spare dry clothing (we ‘donated’ some of ours).
I carry a heavier pack to ensure my comfort and safety, and to cover any contingencies. People tramping light though should not rely on others to come to their rescue because of inadequate equipment.
– John Walsh