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tropical gear list
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Nick Lagos

Locale: South Australia
tropical gear list on 04/28/2010 05:21:10 MDT Print View

i am walking for 9 days on the kokodda trail in Papua New Guinea in July

it is an organised trip so wont need to take food, only snacks

anyone got an appropriate gear list as a starting point?

anyone done this walk or one similar?

John Brochu
(JohnnyBgood4) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
Re: tropical gear list on 04/28/2010 08:13:17 MDT Print View

Did the organizers provide you with a generic list of personal gear you are required to bring? If so, post it here and then I'm sure people could suggest specific lightweight items for each item you're required to bring.

You might also want to mention the terrain and the weather/bugs etc. you expect to encounter on the trip.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: tropical gear list on 04/28/2010 10:47:25 MDT Print View

Yes, what's the temp range? Ascending any peaks?

One thought that comes to mind: do not bring heavy leather boots or any boots with Goretex/eVENT wp/b linings. Your boots will soak and these will just prolong the drying time. Bring quick-dry trail runners instead -- and extra socks!

Nick Lagos

Locale: South Australia
tropical trails on 04/29/2010 16:53:06 MDT Print View

thanks for the reply guys

re the climate very humid- rains for some hours everyday - mid to high 20 temperatures - apparently the track is very steep and covered in tree roots and thick mud - is about 100km and covered in 8-9 days (should be easy)

the history is that it was a trail over which australia fought against the Japanese in the second world war - they were trying to invade Papua New Guinea before staging an invasion of Australia - they got beat by a very unmanned force and the ferocity of tropical conditions and the trail

yes there was a gear list as follows
- three shirts or tops (cotton is best)
one long-sleeved light sweater or windcheater (for wearing around the campsite at night and for sleeping in)
- two pairs of bottoms (jeans, army trousers, drill shorts) - four changes of underwear
- light hiking boots (must be worn-in and NOT brand new)
- 2 pairs of thick woollen hiking socks (or cotton/wool blend but NOT nylon/acrylic/polyester) - small waterproof torch with spare batteries
- rain poncho (not rain coat, it won’t fit your day pack underneath – you can buy a hiking poncho from any camping gear shop – don’t skimp on a PVC one, buy a good quality nylon one)
- lightweight half-size bath towel (quick-dry type – even just a small hand towel is enough to dry yourself
- half a bar of soap in a leak-proof container
- one roll of toilet paper (wrap it in a freezer bag or shopping bag to keep it dry)
- personal water bottle (1.5 or 2 litre) to carry in your day pack. Many trekkers recommend a “bladder” built into your daypack which enables you to take frequent sips as you walk along, while others say bladders are overkill and the bladder water is always at body temperature and unrefreshing. No need to spend a lot – many trekkers just walk with an old 2 litre cordial bottle tied on to the back of their day pack and say this is just as good as any expensive insulated bottle.
- a small personal first aid kit (see below)
- lightweight slippers or tennis shoes (for moving around campsites while your boots are drying by the fire, or for crossing streams without soaking your hiking boots) -
sleeping bag and mat (see below)

obviously quick dry synthetics make sense but was thinking of wearing icebreaker t shirts which i have successfully worn in most other climates

ben i had thought about this re the shoes
- have a pair of salamons xt wings which i recently trialled on a 6 day hike in very rough conditions and they got pretty beat up and also were way too narrow at the front

i also have a pair of keen boots (great toe box) but they have a gortex layer - shoes arent that cheap here in oz so i might be stuck with these until they fall apart

i will post my actual list later tonight


Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: tropical trails on 04/29/2010 17:21:38 MDT Print View

OMG -- who created that list???

1. I would NOT wear cotton shirts to hot, clammy places!! You will soak in sweat and your shirt will take forever to dry. Look for synthetics instead -- preferably those with antimicrobial (anti-stink) treatment like the MontBell ones, etc. You will soak in sweat wearing those too -- but once it cools down, you will dry much quicker. Also, when washing them, they will dry much faster as well.

2. NO jeans! Again, snythetics rule! Get a pair of convertibles made with Supplex material -- like REI Sahara pants. There are other qualifed synthetics materials as well -- but please, no jeans!

3. You do NOT need thick woolen socks. This isn't the 1950's anymore. Keep your pack weight reasonably light -- and you can safely wear light weight -- BREATHABLE -- trail runners. No heavy boots. No heavy woolen socks! Goretex shoes are bad news. Period.

Here's what I would do:

2 l/s shirts (synthetic, wicking, quick drying)
1 convertible pants (synthetic, quick drying)
2 boxer underwear (synthetic)
2 pairs light weight wool socks
1 light weight wind breaker (I like Patagonia Houdini)
1 hat
1 pair of light trail runners -- no need for camp shoes.

1 day pack with 2 water bottles or 1 bladder and hydration tube.

Bring plenty of sunblock and bug repellent. Maybe a bug net too.

Edited by ben2world on 04/29/2010 19:36:40 MDT.

Lucy Nguyen
(cloudswinger) - F
not very tropical to me on 05/01/2010 20:21:26 MDT Print View

I found this site that has a gear list for the trail.

I like how they offer a gear porter to carry your heavy pack for you. Which also involves a food porter who carries the food for you, you gear porter and his own food!

It's hot during the day and cold at night. Tropical to me would be hot during the day and night. Like the trip I just went on where it was 68 at night. I just brought a silk sheet and a sleeping pad and a mesh tent - too many bugs at night.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
i knew I haven't seen you before on 05/02/2010 00:35:49 MDT Print View

Welcome to the forums Lucy
...Its sad when you can recognize that someone hasn't posted here before...i need to get out more :/

But I agree, when I think tropical, I think of sweating even when idle, and the desire to take 5 showers a day.

Nick Lagos

Locale: South Australia
kokoda on 05/02/2010 00:56:34 MDT Print View

hey guys

this trip does involve a porter who is a paid Papua New Guinean (company is in the PNG)- each porter carries some of the groups food (which will diminish over the trip) and 10kg of a walkers gear. Each walker takes 5kg of his own stuff. our group has decided to go as light as possible so that the porters arent carrying too much stuff. you can take your own gear but that means a porter dosent get a job

the temp is low at nights because of the altitudes along the track - there is apparently a serious amount of ups and downs on the walk which all occur over short distances.

there is no need to take a tent as the porters take these but mainly we stay at guest houses - so a bug net is essential - although apparently at altitude disease carrying mosquitos dont exist

there is however a lot of rain, tree roots and of course mud - many medivacs occur from the track yearly

i have to do up a gear list for the trip and post here for dissection - i will check out the weblink for ideas



Nick Lagos

Locale: South Australia
kokoda on 05/02/2010 01:06:44 MDT Print View


thanks for that - you gotta love the gear list provided by the trekking company - in fact compared to those provided by other companies some of the ideas arent bad - ponchos instead of expensive rain jackets, cheap water bottles, not packing war and peace that you wont read

the track is walked by something like 5 thousand people a year and many of them havent ever been on an overnight walk at all let alone in this sort o terrain - they generally go to a outdoor store and get really bad advice and spend loads on very heavy equpment they will never use again or break their backs trying to carry it around australia

some of their tips:

TIP: Don’t bring big heavy reference books about the Kokoda campaign that you won’t have time to read while trekking anyway.

TIP: The weather will be generally warm in the day time and cold at night.

TIP: Don’t bring pyjamas – just sleep in whatever dry clothes you have. At each village or campsite you can wash dirty clothes and dry them overnight by the campfire while you sleep in your clean change.

TIP: Don’t bring a big hat. Most trekkers recommend a terry-towelling hat with small floppy brim that will soak up sweat, or a bandanna to tie round your head. Most of the trek involves walking under the shade of trees and a wide brimmed hat is not necessary and will just get in the way.

TIP: Apart from your small bath towel bring a sweat towel for wiping your face and arms as you trek.

TIP: Bring spare batteries for your digital camera because batteries seem to go flat more rapidly in the humid climate and there will be nowhere to buy them along the way.

TIP: Ladies (and gentlemen) with long hair: we recommend you have your hair cut short, braided or tied before commencing the trek. Long untied hair will quickly get dirty and sweaty and can become a major distraction and annoyance for you while walking.

have a go at those!

as i stated above i still have to get through that gear list and post it for you to have a better dig through

cheers nick

John Frederick Anderson
(fredfoto) - F

Locale: Spain
tropical gear list on 05/02/2010 04:13:22 MDT Print View

Take something for the leeches. You can burn them off with a lighter, or use salt.

My mate did this trail a while ago- froze at night, so think about something like a light quilt to keep you warm. When I sleep in the tropics, I take a silk bag- helps keep you warm in a/c and keeps off many biting things.

Poncho is essential- ID Silcoat Cape is lightweight and short so it won't snag on vegetation, packs tiny and weighs 140g.

Take a bugnet too- it's not just the mozzies, I remember giant roaches and other nasties in PNG when I was there.

I'd be using walking sticks as there's PLENTY of up and down.

Lucky you- I'm jealous- have a great hike.


Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: tropical gear list on 05/02/2010 10:15:12 MDT Print View

It's obvious that quite a few people here have never hiked in tropical conditions. What BPL normally recommends for hiking in most of the temperate zones just doesn't work in tropical climates. Synthetic clothing, especially nylon like Supplex, is much hotter than cotton and in very humid conditions always feels clammy, because it doesn't breathe very well. When it is very humid you want the fabric to stay moist so as to cool you down more. In such heat, evaporation is so fast that cotton doesn't stay wet for long at all... that's why most people who live in the tropical rain forest always wear cotton t-shirts these days... it does a much better job regulating your heat than any synthetic can do. I'd recommend having a loose cotton shirt and a synthetic 100 weight microfleece shirt for the colder nights. For pants I'd recommend a 30/ 70 polyester/ cotton blend, not Supplex. The blend stays cooler and dries very quickly. It's still not as good as 100% cotton though. I'd recommend cotton twill most (it was designed by the British for tropical campaigns) if you don't think it's going to get overly cold. Jeans are out... they are too tight and get very heavy when wet. Wear long pants, not shorts... unless you are inured to the sun and insects shorts will make you miserable. I personally do best in knee-length breeches, and cover my calves with a mesh leg warmer if it gets cold.

The recommendation for a towel to carry around your neck for seat is a good one. I use one all the time in the sweltering summers here in Japan. You use it for wipe your face while walking, but also to protect your neck from the sun and to dip into streams and cool off your head.

I'd actually recommend sandals for very humid rain forest conditions, but if you have worries about stubbing your toes on the rougher trails, a light, mesh shoe as Ben recommends works best. I personally always wear Chaco sandals when walking in rain forests. THey dry fast, your feet don't get subjected to getting waterlogged in closed shoes and developing fungi, and you can just rinse them off at streams. At night I wear a neoprene bicycle shoe cover over them to keep my feet warm.

For drinking you might want to bring rolls of newspaper to roll your water bottles in and keep the temperature of your water bottles constant... even ice will stay solid all day long.

Leeches will be a very big worry everywhere, even when you sit down to take a break. They'll come looping across the forest floor like things out of a horror movie. You may want to use puttees wrapped around your calves to help protect your legs. They work better than gaitors in such conditions because they hug the contours of your legs.

And though it sounds funny, you might want to get a straw, short brimmed hat. Straw hats are coolest in very hot weather, do quite well in light rain, dry very fast, and protect very well in direct sunlight. And with a short brim they won't get in the way in heavy undergrowth.

The suggestion for a ID Silcape is probably the best. Many mountain marathon runners now use short ponchos in Europe for summer running. It will keep you dry and warm, but also ventilate well. You DON'T want to be hiking in a waterproof rainsuit in the tropics!!!

And finally make sure your shoes fit well and won't easily come off in deep sucking mud.

Also, for comfort, you might want to bring a very lightweight simple hammock. Very useful when you want to rest and the ground is sloshing in mud or the hill is steep or you want to get away from the insects.

PS. If you do bring synthetic clothing to wear, make sure it is very loose-fitting. That way you will feel less baked in the heat.

Edited by butuki on 05/03/2010 03:54:41 MDT.

Lucy Nguyen
(cloudswinger) - F
porters are awesome! on 05/02/2010 13:33:19 MDT Print View

Ok, so you have a porter and are staying at guest houses. I'd bring flip-flops or teva type sandals to walk around the guest house. Lets your feet dry while your hiking shoes are drying.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
tropical gear list on 05/02/2010 14:03:21 MDT Print View

I concur with Miguel Arboleda - Avoid nylon and go with very loose fitting cotton in hot weather. My favorite "hot weather" hiking shirt is the Patagonia Island Hopper, designed for hot weather. I shorten them by 3-4" so air can freely enter from the bottom - the draft on a hot sweaty torso is a good thing. Here's a photo of the shortened Island Hopper (I'm in the middle with two folks I had just met):

I recently spent 25 days birding in very hot humid Panama, Island Hopper is ideal in those conditions.

Also, umbrellas are terrific for rain in hot weather (and cold weather for that matter). A poncho is cooler than a coat, but an umbrella is coolest of all. GoLite has a nice light sturdy and field-repairable model.

Have a terrific hike. Sounds great, and I'm jealous.


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: tropical gear list on 05/02/2010 14:06:33 MDT Print View

Leeches are a pain!

Get some extremely thin plastic bags. If you wear two pairs of thin socks, then put the plastic between the two layers. That keeps your feet humid, but it keeps them drier than they would be from monsoon-wetness. The leeches can squeeze through a coarse wool, but they can't make it through plastic. The plastic bags go up as high as your pants cuffs, and then simple rubber bands around the cuffs will keep the leeches from climbing up inside.

If you do get leech bites, the wounds will need some good blood clotters and some antibiotic, but it will still take a month to heal completely. It's far better to keep them off.

Nick Lagos

Locale: South Australia
tropical gear list on 05/02/2010 16:18:58 MDT Print View

thanks miguel, amy and bob and everyone else

this info is invaluable as i am sure the wrong choices will be live-able but make walking in these conditions very unpleasant.

i have a pair of shoes that i cant afford to replace but have a gortex lining. i know this is useless but didnt know this before buying them a year ago.

so what can i do to help them drain water? just puncture the membrane with something? any advice

it will be a great trip and i will try and post a report here for people interested



Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: tropical gear list on 05/02/2010 16:33:25 MDT Print View

No, don't puncture your Goretex shoes. Either return them (if you can) or leave them for future alpine-type hikes (cold and dry).

Buy yourself a pair of trail runners. They're versatile for most everywhere except snow.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
tropical gear list on 05/02/2010 18:54:50 MDT Print View

Never done that but every Aussie magazine publishes an article on that about once a year...
The typical injury on the trail is from tripping over roots or from exhaustion/dehydration.
(IE, many find it hard to walk in that hot humid weather...)
So I would recommend some mids with beefy soles, definitely not "waterproof" and a pair of solid trekking poles.
Definitely no jeans...
Note that a lot of porters don't have any footwear.
As you need both hands most of the time , an umbrella would not be all that useful.
Light "flip flops" for the evening (maybe even Crocs) would be nice for the feet.
Some typical trail shots...
Kokoda 1
Kokoda 2
Kokoda 3


Edited by Franco on 05/02/2010 18:56:32 MDT.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: tropical gear list on 05/02/2010 19:51:35 MDT Print View

Franco, Are those folks helping an injured person, or something?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: tropical base layer on 05/02/2010 20:28:05 MDT Print View

Having worn both cotton and synthetics in the hot/humid tropics, synthetics makes much more sense to me.

With synthetics, I can wash a set of clothing at night and it will be dry by early morning. That often fails to happen with cotton in highly-humid areas.

A good alternative is a 80/20 poly/cotton mix. The best of both worlds in my book.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
tropical gear list on 05/02/2010 20:36:37 MDT Print View

"Franco, Are those folks helping an injured person, or something?"

No those are just city folk that are having trouble going up the slippery slopes.