A mad dash around the garage and kitchen, or a calm and orderly muster: love it or hate it, we all must pack before we go tramping. Knowing what to take, and keeping it ready to go, is half the battle won.
If this is your first trip, or your disposition leans towards haphazard gear storage, there’s the likelihood that what’s needed isn’t entirely clear. Once you’ve gathered all you think you’ll need in a heap somewhere, it’s important to break it into one of three categories: definite, probable and possible.
The definites These are the essentials that keep tramping a safe and enjoyable pursuit. They include a pack and liner, boots and gaiters, sleeping bag, food (with extra for an emergency), stove, fuel and cookware, appropriate clothing for the conditions, first aid and survival kits, navigation and communication tools, a torch and batteries. These might seem obvious, but even the most experienced have left one or more of them sitting in a front room at home.
The probables Bedroll, walking poles (some would say a definite), a camera, personal hygiene kit (some would say a luxury) and spare batteries.
The possibles The usually heavy luxury items that may seem unnecessary – a book, pillow, spare knife, steak and potatoes or binoculars might all be needed to round out the trip nicely for you.
A luxury to some might be a definite to others. Your decision on what to take will revolve around the season’s requirements and the room that you have in your pack. The point of any walk is to enjoy the experience. With the exception of the first, these lists could be longer or modified depending on the type of tramp you’re going on and the weight sacrifices you’re prepared to make in order to tote your favourite bit of gear. A lightweight minimalist might include a flysheet, while a weekend bush basher might need an axe for firewood.
The important thing to remember is that none of the possibles should replace a probable or a definite; keep them to one side for a quick viewing before you leave. Over time, experience – and a good list – will help you pull together all of the necessary equipment, knowing what is useful and what to discard. Store it all correctly and in one place to make the inevitable pack loading a more relaxed affair.
– Paul King