What we took with us
on our South Island hike
Thoughts on ultralight hiking
When we started thinking about this venture I became obsessed with the weight of gear.
I pored over American websites that had ultra-ultra lite gear. I dreamed of carrying nothing. I weighed everything we had and wrote it in a book. Then I went and bought new stuff, lighter stuff at five times the price. Then I found even lighter stuff for ridiculous amounts of American dollars. Oh dear. Could I justify a pot that is 75 grams less than the one we had for $120 extra? Well I did.
Eventually commonsense got back some control. Why are we trying to take less? To go further, to go faster, to have more fun? Why?
We realised two things. We are pretty sturdy kiwis, not whippets. Whin is over 180cm tall. I'm a "strapping lass". We can manage reasonable weight packs. Light but safe would be good.
Also we are 50ish and not triathlon types. Even if we only carried 10kgs we would not and could not expect to cover 25miles/40 km in a day, every day. We are not made that way.
So we have traded lightness for comfort. Tramping is one of life's pleasures. We'll enjoy it at our pace. Anyway, I bet we'll ditch some stuff as we go.
We've opted for a combination of lightness, quality, comfort and practicality - which means that "ultralight" isn't an option. These packs come with their own internal waterproof liners that are just like a dry bag.
We chose sturdy boots with the idea that any advantage lightweight boots could give us would be lost with an increase in vulnerability
Before we set off we'd been wearing these boot models for over three years and couldn't see any reason not to continue.
We did some big road walks to see how they would go on long flat days and found them fine.
Whiona wore Zamberlan Vios boots (the second pair she's owned). They are tough and comfortable - their only draw-back is that they have a Gore-Tex inner. This means that when they get wet (this is New Zealand - they are wet all the time), they don't empty or dry easily.
Whin wore his second pair of Asolo's. "My first pair lasted for over 1000kms in some of New Zealand's toughest mountains and streams, but de-laminated after a trip around Mount Ruapehu. I reckon it was the volcanic chemicals "melting" the glue. I did a few hundred K's more with the help of a few tubes of Freesole glue and screws."
We sealed the toe caps and joins between the uppers and soles of the boots with generous helpings of Freesole and expected to get a few hundred more kilometres out of our "new" boots. We use dubbin and ordinary nugget to condition the leather...the soles will fail long before the uppers, so we reckon fancy conditioners are just hype.
Note: Whiona's boots disintegrated by the time we got to Saint Arnaud. The Goretex caused them to rot from the inside out and to make matters worse she tore a hole in the leather upper near the toe. Whin's boots were fine. We both bought new Asolos for our North Island hike two years later - they weren't perfect, but nothing ever is when you walk a thousand or so kilometres of New Zealand.
Wood is the only way to go
Yeah...this seems really anal...and if you're not planning to walk 800miles, reading this would be a waste of your time. But we got many of our gear tips from other Te Araroa walkers' gear lists. So it's only proper to return the favour.
Whiona spent a lot of time in town with a set of scales - weighing everything from undies to chux cloths.
NB: We're chopped and changed a bit...so this list is not exactly accurate.
We prepared "bump boxes" to mail ahead for stretches of the trail without shops. The five boxes had up to 12kg of food and bits and pieces in them. We calculated that we would eat about 1.2kg of food a day, so the biggest bump boxes were for up to 10 days tramping. We contacted the places we sent the boxes to and hoped NZ Post would get it right...reading other TA blogs it seems this doesn't always happen.
Note: Everything arrived safely and we didn't starve.
More about our food here.