Sarah May Little is an Auckland zookeeper and illustrator and is often found battling through knee-deep mud in the bush. Last summer, she tramped the South Island section of the Te Araroa Trail and this is what was in her pack.
I never wear boots as I’ve had issues with tendonitis in the past, so a sturdy but light pair of trail runners like the Salomon XD ticks all the boxes for me. I chuck in a pair of jandals to use at camp.
After a lot of sad moments drinking mouldy water from water bladders, I’ve gone back to old-school water bottles. I have a Sawyer Squeeze water filter that has been really handy when water sources are limited and all that’s on offer are muddy creeks.
A 50-litre Osprey Aura has been perfect for long distance hiking. This pack only came in dark green so I usually tie a piece of luminous reflective fabric on the back when I’m road-walking or traversing through forests during hunting season.
My Big Agnes Copper Spur II has seen me through torrential rain and windy nights. It is luxuriously roomy and weighs in at only 1360g.
An MSR Pocket Rocket is a great lightweight option, though the open flame is vulnerable to wind. My menu consists of anything lightweight and calorific. Some tramping friends introduced me to ToodlePie: a disgusting mix of tuna, packet noodles and instant mash – what a time to be alive!
A Topo GPS app on my phone, and paper maps as a back-up (and sometimes just for fun). I carry an Anker powerpack that is heavy but means I have enough power to take photos on 10-day trips.
I wouldn’t go bush without my McMurdo FastFind220 in my pack – it’s an absolute necessity, though luckily I’ve never had to activate it.
Repair/First Aid Kit
I’ve learnt that most things can be repaired with duct tape – including blisters. I’ve also used a trusty needle and dental floss to stitch up emergency repairs to shredded clothing and shoes.
Merino base-layers are a must. I have a much loved Patagonia Nano Air insulated jacket that has been patched up after the sleeve caught fire while I was cooking.
For tramping on the cheap, the Thermarest Z-Lite is a good low-cost sleeping mat, though it doesn’t stand up to anything under 5°C. A Mountain Hardwear Lamina sleeping bag with a rating that goes down to -7°C, plus a silk liner, keeps me warm enough.