Evaluation notes at the bottom of this post.
Walking 3000 km (1865 miles) is quite an undertaking. To be safe I am taking a PLB on this hike, a first for me, but a personal locator beacon is just smart in case I run into trouble and in respect to SAR teams should something go wrong. Navigation is going to be a challenge at times. After all, this trail is not as well tramped as many other long trails and there are a lot of maps… 141 pages to be exact. Printed double sided of course to save on weight. Because naturally weight management is key. My ambition was to shave about 4 kg off my base weight* for this hike compared to what I carried on Kungsleden this summer. Not an easy task, but I think I might have pulled it off.
One thing that helps a lot is the use of a bouncebox system this time around. A bouncebox is a box that I will keep sending ahead to myself at regular stops along the way. This way I can keep clothes and gear handy for when it is needed and save on carrying the weight. I also have different strategies for my feet depending on the terrain and for long stretches, I will opt for walking in trailrunners and bounce my boots for rougher sections up ahead. I will also need to replace a few things that will simply wear out, like socks and even shoes! Granted, New Zealand is not the end of the world (only middle earth…) so if I miss something I can always pick it up along the way, but gear preferences are rather personal so it is nice to have most of it sorted ahead of time.
Another way to lighten the load is, of course, to upgrade to lighter gear. This can be a very expensive endeavor but I opted to replace a few key pieces for this hike. Most notably my tent, always a big ticket item on the gear list. For Te Araroa I am bringing Hilleberg Niak which, at 1700g, is 100g less than the Soulo I started Kungsleden in. Although lighter, it is by no means an ultralight option, but one I will feel safe in so I am happy. I also replaced my shell/rain gear. The new Mountain Equipment jacket and full-zip pants together actually weigh less than my old jacket alone! Well done there.
Then it is all about whittling down the list really. Striking a balance between weight, comfort, and safety. As it stands now my base weight checks in at around 11 kg, I was shooting for 10-11 kg… so I am nearly there. I will fine-tune it a bit more no doubt and also adjust what I carry from stage to stage along the way, but this is basically how I imagine I will start at Cape Reinga on day one. Barring any major revelations. Oooh… this stuff really keeps me up at night!
Only two weeks to go now. Crazy how fast time flies!
*Base weight =weight of the backpack not including food, water, fuel and what I am wearing.
PS! I will either walk in boots or trailrunners, so I will NEVER carry both at the same time but rather send the other choice of shoes/socks ahead in the bouncebox. Oh, and I normally like to double up on socks to prevent blisters in boots, but am still undecided on this approach in the trailrunners.
*sent home, **would bring fewer of/smaller size next time, ***replaced/exchanged (or would do so next time)
- North Island: trailrunners
- The North Face Ultra Endurance W’s (542g)*
- >> changed to these on trail: Merrell Moab Ventilator (848g)***
- South Island: hiking boots (leather shell)
- Lundhags Mira Mid (1200g)
- trailrunners: Superfeet green (72g)
- boots: Superfeet orange (96g)***
- flip flops (150g) – camp
- merino wool
- briefs: Aclima (46g) x2
- sports bra: Icebreaker Rush (108g)
- socks: Icebreaker run+ light mini (40g) x2
- t-shirt: Icebreaker (115g)
- merino wool: for camp/sleeping
- boxers: Peak Performance (68g)
- socks: Icebreaker multisport light mini (57g)
- tank top: Icebreaker (84g)
- thermal shirt, long sleeve half zip: Kari Traa (208g)
- thermal pants: Kari Traa (182g)
- socks for trailrunners: Icebreaker run+ light mini merino (40g) x2**
- socks for boots (liner): Smartwool hiking liner crew merino (34g) x2**
- socks for boots: Bola hiking merino (60g) x2**
- t-shirt: Icebreaker merino (115g)
- merino thermal shirt, long sleeve crew: Ortovox (236g)***
- long sleeve button down shirt: Ortovox RNW cool shirt, merino/tencel (236g)
- >> added on trail (South Island): merino wool hoodie: Icebreaker (486g)***
- insulated jacket: Norrøna Falketind PrimaLoft100 hoody (396g)
Outer/ reinforcement layer
- merino/polyester shorts: Icebreaker (112g)
- >> added on trail (South Island): merino capri tights: Icebreaker (198g) ***
- shell/rain jacket: Mountain Equipment Ogre (390g)
- shell/rain pants, full zip: Mountain Equipment Odyssey (295g)
- sun visor: Craft (36g)
- sunglasses: Redbull Racing (26g)
- headband: Buff coolmax (14g)
- bandana: (18g)
- buff: Buff merino (48g) – buff, beanie, pillowcase
- gaiters: Dirty Girl (30g)
- wind/waterproof gloves: Sealskinz (100g)
- dress: Arcteryx contenta (160g) – travel clothes (off trail)*
- 62L backpack: Osprey Aura AG 65 (1900g)
- rain cover: Osprey hi-vis (112g)
- waterproof pack bags: Sea to Summit/ Osprey (misc sizes)
- compression dry sack: Sea to Summit UltraSil eVent (90g) – for sleeping bag
- flight bag: Osprey Airporter (450g) – flight to NZ
- 18L packable daypack: Osprey (90g) – flight carryon
- tent: Hilleberg Niak (1700g)
- tent: footprint (250g)*
- sleeping pad: Therm-a-Rest Neoair XLite Large (460g)
- sleeping bag: Western Mountaineering Alpinlite, down (900g)
- liner: Sea to Summit, silk (165g)
- stove: Primus, express set – gas burner, 1L pot, windscreen* (570g)
- gas canister
- titanium spork (20g)
- dish sponge (2g)
- folding cup, 6dl: Wildo vikkåsa (46g)
- 15ml bottle (for all purpose soap): Nalgene (6g)
- all purpose soap: G Travel Washit All – refill
- filter: Sawyer Squeeze (77g)
- dirty water sack: Evernew 2L (42g)
- hydration bladder: Platypus Hoser 2L (102g + cap 9g)
- water bottle: Nalgene wide 0.5L (90g)
- syringe to backflush Sawyer filter (12g)**
- dirty water sack: Evernew 2L (42g)
- backup hydration bladder: Platypus Hoser 2L (102g + cap 9g)
- multi-tool: Leatherman Juice CS4 (159g)
- repair kit/misc tools (232g)
- first aid kit (299g)
- foot care (misc tape etc)
- trekking poles: Black Diamond W’s Trail Pro (490g)
- maps (on paper)**
- mosquito head net: Sea to Summit (12g)**
- seating pad: Therm-a-Rest Z-seat (60g)
- dew rag: MSR (20g)
- headlamp: LED Lenser SEO 7R, 220ln (93g)
- wax (for my leather boots)
- knee braces x2 (158g) (thankfully never needed)
- Sony CyberShot HX90V (242g)
- SD memory cards (128GB) x2
- extra camera battery x1
- camera case: Lowepro Apex 30 AW (100g)
- tripod: Gorillapod mini (36g)**
Communication and power
- iPhone 6: Apple (143g)
- headphones: Scull Candy (12g)
- waterproof case for iPhone: Lifeproof (42g)
- PLB: Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1 (116g)
- portable battery: Anker PowerCore 20000 mAh (354g)
- usb power adapter (12w with NZ plug): Apple (74g)
- main apps for iPhone
- Guthook Guides (Te Araroa Hiker)
- DayOne Journal
- + several local services (weather, tides, hostels, wifi etc.)
- social media
- valuables (money, bank card)
- travel papers (passport, visa, tickets)
- contact lenses
- microfibre towel: PackTowl L (86g)
- toiletries (hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste)
- toilet paper
- wet wipes
- potty trowel: The Deuce of Spades (17g)
- ear plugs
- bug repellant*
- toiletries – refill
- contact lenses
- travel pharmacy – refill
- hair dye (ehm… my one vanity)
- Regular resupply stops along the way, plus 3-4 food drops on South Island (north).
Right… I have said it before, packing lists are not really as useful as they could (should) be unless they are revisited after the trek with some reflections and thoughts on how everything really worked out in the field. So, here you go! Anything not mentioned here worked as expected and would be included on my next hike as well. This is what I would change.
*Sent home (or bounced)
- trailrunners: The North Face Ultra Endurance W’s (542g) = my feet swelled up quite a lot on this walk, so I had to up the size on my trailrunners a couple of sizes more than normal (I usually go up one size, here I went to mens +2 sizes)
- Arcteryx contenta dress (160g) – town clothes = a luxury item to travel in… questionable to keep bouncing…
- The footprint (250g) for my Hilleberg Niak tent = I bounced this after the first few weeks, yeah, I missed it on a few occasions (mainly when it was raining a lot) but not enough to warrant carrying the weight…
- stove: Primus, express set = bounced the windscreen attachment early on to save on weight
- bug repellant = yeah… none of that stuff works very well so I did not bother with it…
**Would bring fewer of/smaller size next time
- Icebreaker run+ light mini (40g) x2 = Wow, socks! I thought I would go through so many socks on this hike, but nope! I had spares in the bouncebox that never saw the light of day. I walked the full 3000km in the same socks… props to Icebreaker and Bola brands!
- Bola hiking merino (60g) x2 = se above
- briefs: Aclima merino (46g) x2 = no replacements needed
- sleeping bag: Western Mountaineering Alpinlite, down (900g) = Really really love this bag, but it was waaaaay to warm for this hike! Should have brought my summer bag instead. I only zipped it up the last couple of weeks of the hike, used it as a blanket for the rest of the time, sleeping in tanktop and boxers…
- syringe to backflush Sawyer filter (12g) = yeah, at least I could service Sawyer mini users along the trail, I back flushed my Sayer squeeze like 4 times…
- maps & trail notes (on paper) = never used… but alas, a safety backup…
- mosquito head net: Sea to Summit (12g) = never used, not once. Just not comfortable… can’t breathe…
- tripod: Gorillapod mini (36g) = no energy to fiddle with this… sad but true. Bounced it.
***Replaced/exchanged (or would do so next time)
- Superfeet orange, boots (96g) = Needed more padding in the front under the ball of my foot, so I got the orange Superfeet insoles for my boots and used the green ones for my trailrunners instead
- thermal shirt, long sleeve crew: Ortovox merino (236g) = I like this shirt, but not for this, it is lacking somewhat in features. Mainly I wanted a zipper… I replaced it with an Icebreaker hoodie instead.
- merino wool hoodie: Icebreaker (486g) – love the hood, zipper and mitten hand warmer cuffs on this model. It is pink too. I like that.
- merino capri tights: Icebreaker (198g) = walked in these when it got colder
Broken/ lost gear
Over all… precious little broke! So happy with my gear!
- t-shirt: Icebreaker (115g) = went through two t-shirts on this hike, expected and I am good with that.
- headband: Buff coolmax (14g) = lost this one in the Richmond Ranges… replaced it with an Icebreaker model a few weeks later.
- bandana (18g) = this one was ancient already at the start of this hike, and it finally gave up halfway down the South Island. Saw a lot of good use along the way though…
- shell/rain jacket: Mountain Equipment Ogre (390g) = I did not realize that the zipper on this jacked was not properly sewn in until after arriving in New Zealand… and Mountain Equipment could (or would) not help me while over here (!)… They just offered to help me fix it after I came back to Europe. (WTF!) So I just had to deal with it for 5 months! Meaning that every time I had to pull the zipper it was catching like crazy in the loose material. Love the jacket otherwise but frustrating as all f#%&k!!! Got it fixed now, but how can they not have global support when it comes to adventure gear!?!?
- merino/polyester shorts: Icebreaker (112g) = loved these, but the first pair kept falling apart (the glued seams popped) but I got a replacement pair from the lovely Icebreaker store in Wellington.
- dirty water sack: Evernew 2L (42g) = yeah, busted two of these… glued the last one with liquisole and made it all the way to Bluff, but not super happy…
- water bottle: Nalgene wide 0.5L (90g) = lost two of these along the way… lol… oh well.
- trekking poles: Black Diamond W’s Trail Pro (490g) = held up the whole way, but one is bent now (took a tumble in Pureora Forest) so I cannot collapse it but have to take it apart completely to store… not complaining, just stating a fact.
- Guthook Guides (Te Araroa Hiker) = loved this app!!! Soooooo awesome! Can’t say enough nice things about this app. Used it exclusively for all my navigation.
- Looove this gear extra much with sprinkles on top:
- hiking boots: Lundhags Mira Mid (1200g)
- 62L backpack: Osprey Aura AG 65 (1900g)
- tent: Hilleberg Niak (1700g)