I remember my first overnight hiking and camping trip for a variety of reasons.
It was early February last year when I set off by myself for what would end up being a 54km hiking trip on the Walk Into History trail in Warburton, Melbourne.
The walk is positioned as a one-way trek starting in Warburton and finishing in Powelltown, but I somehow managed to turn it into a loop.
I’d spent a good week planning my gear and food, as well as picking up some last minute items at the various outdoor stores in my local area.
I packed, re-packed, double checked my food portions and did all sorts of stuff before I jumped in the car that Saturday morning at 6am. Needless to say, I was nervous as hell.
Before I left, I weighed my One Planet Ned backpack with all my gear inside and it came in at a whopping 13 kilos. To give you some idea of why I think that is a lot, I recently did a 10-day hike in New Zealand where my max weight was around 15 kilos.
In short, I simply had too much stuff with me for this trip. But I wasn’t about to let that get to me. I saw it as a good opportunity for me to hike with a reasonable weight on my back
But I wasn’t about to let that get to me. I saw it as a good opportunity for me to hike with a reasonable weight on my back. This trip, and many trips and one-day hikes after, were all in training for the 10-day hike in New Zealand.
Some of the unnecessary stuff I packed were items such as a kitchen scrub brush and detergent so I could clean my dish properly (embarrassing, I know!), two hooded jumpers made from cotton (cotton is a big no-no in the hiking world), way too much food, a multi-tool tomahawk from Anaconda, two smallish cans of fuel for my burner, a tube of Coles brand Pringles and a few other bits and pieces that probably didn’t really need to be there. Also, all my food was packaged, except for the Sakata Rice Crackers.
I didn’t have to worry about breakfast on the first morning, and couldn’t be bothered cooking the packet of Continental pasta for breakfast on that Sunday, so I saved it for lunch.
Lunch and dinner on the first day consisted of, again, Continental pasta with powdered milk.
I had snacks in between breakfast and lunch, and lunch and dinner and they consisted of two Snickers and 100 grams of Peanut M&Ms.
So, what did I learn?
Lots of things. But, mainly:
- It’s good to be prepared but sometimes you can be too prepared. I took too much for an overnight hike. My breakfasts and lunches are much smaller these days and I usually have a bigger dinner to make up for it. Snacks are now two Snickers or 50-100 grams of Peanut M&Ms.
- Before you head off, lay your gear out and be brutally honest about each item. Ask yourself: do I actually need that multi-use tomahawk for knocking the tent pegs into the ground (yes, that’s what I bought it for) or could I use my bare hands or a rock? It’s those decisions that will make life so much easier out on the trail because your pack won’t weigh as much.
- Make sure you have a filter or something similar to get extra water. At the time, I didn’t have my water bladder with my filtering system attached to it, so the water I had was the water I had. I was careful with it, but water is something you need regularly on a long hike and you should never go too long without. Call that one a rookie error.
- Band-aids aren’t the best prevention for blisters. Even when you’re wearing hiking boots as comfortable as mine. You can’t completely avoid blisters, but you can prevent them. Elastoplast do have these cool blister pads that I keep in my first aid kit. I put them on the hot spots of my feet before every hike and it seems to work.
- 31-32kms per day was probably a bit of a stretch for me. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I have no regrets. But I would maybe have waited a little longer before I did a multi-day hike of that length.
After each hiking trip, and this will be especially important for those of you who are just getting into it, I like to review the gear I took with me and evaluate if I’ll ever need it again. As long as you’re always learning from your mistakes, eventually you will come to a point where you’ll be hiking as comfortably and as efficiently as possible.