GEAR LIST FOR 2-3 SEASON SOLO HIKING IN NEW ZEALAND
from the mountains to the sea, the terrain found in New Zealand is varied and can change as quickly as the weather. the following gear items are what i generally/typically take with me on solo hikes ranging from 2-5 days duration, covering between 10 and 30km a day, mainly on formed trails. sure, i could drop a lot of items off and a lot of weight, and sometimes i do, but this is a full list/review and will vary depending on several factors. the main things that get swapped around are the quilts and the kitchen set up.
for hauling all my gear around, i use the frame-less mountain laurel designs exodus pack in a size large which perfectly fits my torso length. approximate volume is around 50L, plus a little extra when utilizing the extension collar, so it is just the right size for doing a 2-5 day mission with my current hiking gear set up. i opted for the 'super' version of this pack with the dynema fabric pockets instead of the usual mesh, which, considering the conditions and types of environment found throughout New Zealand, is holding up extremely well. it has one hip belt pocket added to keep some smaller items close to hand and a bungee cord has also been attached for extra gear storage and compression. this is a very well made pack with comfortable shoulder and hip padding. i also use a roll top style dry bag from sea to summit as a liner to waterproof the rest of my gear and my nemo zor sleeping mat provides a virtual frame for the pack.
the mountain laurel designs littlestar is my shelter of choice. it is a floorless, single skin, shaped tarp, made using silnylon fabric. an excellent waterproof shelter designed for one/two, it can be erected using two trekking poles, making it very stable in adverse conditions. this style of shelter is fast and easy to set up. i carry leki carbon fibre trekking poles which i use to prop it up, and pin it down with easton 8in stakes and 6in full metal jacket 6" stakes, but i also take one vargo titanium nail for the odd tough spot that needs a pilot hole. with the weather conditions that i may encounter, i usually incorporate a katabatic gear bristlecone bivy bag with a large mesh window to keep any drafts at bay and to keep those pesky bugs away. a z-packs cuben fiber ground sheet also comes in handy, which some may say is un-necessary, but for me, its just that little extra that finishes things off. this shelter system teams very well with my sleeping system.
keeping me warm is either a katabatic gear alsek down filled top bag, or for the warmer or wetter trips, the synthetic filled spirit quilt by mountain laurel designs, mixed and matched with a phd down filler bag. the alsek model uses high quality, high lofting 900 fill down, and has a temperature rating of around -5 C when used in conjunction with a good ground mat and spare clothing. the quilt itself is finished off nicely using pertex quantum ripstop fabric on the outside to shed some moisture, while the pertex taffeta fabric adds a luxurious feel inside. the synthetic quilt uses climashield apex insulation sandwedged between endurance ripstop with epic fabric on the footbox. i also use a silkbody liner bag to keep things clean or to keep cool on a hot night. both options compress and loft well as most good insulation does. a torso length, semi self-inflating nemo zor pad is used for insulation from the ground and provides a little extra comfort, and when folded up, this pad also adds some structure to my frame-less pack when im on the move. this is rounded out with a full length 3mm foam pad to supplement this system and is carried outside my pack so comes in handy as a seat during rest stops.
i have a few different set-ups to choose from when it comes to cooking/boiling water. depending on the trip, i have gas, solid fuel and wood burning options available. the simplest for me is the primus micron ti stove which i take on most solo trips. it is small, strong and light. cooking with gas doesnt get easier than this. unfold the titanium pot supports, screw it onto the primus iso/butane/propane gas canister, turn on the gas and light it up with a bic mini. using H2o from the platypus bottles or nearby water source, fill the evernew titanium pot with the desired amount, around 550ml for a meal and miso soup, replace the lid and sit it on top of the stove. i use the .6L pot for solo trips, and also bring along an evernew titanium frypan if i want to cook a little more gormet. i have the NZ made folding peasant knife from svord which is used for any food prep or package opening. i then add some boiling water to a dehydrated meal, mix and seal, add the rest to the kupilka 21 cup, which is the perfect size for soup or mixing up some mash. when its ready, i get it down the hatch using the light my fire titanium spoon which i re-shaped from a spork. wash, dry off and clean up with the lightload towel. it all fits together in a nice little package. and for fun... i also take my backcountry boiler.
conditions are unpredictable and can change very quickly in the mountains and hills of New Zealand, so all bases need to be covered, hence a full set of spare clothes. there are pros and cons for both natural and synthetic fibers, so check them out, i carry a bit of a mixture, preferring mainly wool based next to the skin layers with synthetic for outer layers. the bottom half, generally doesnt need as much cover compared to the top half which house all those vital organs. i usually take a pair of possum down socks, always kept dry for sleeping in, a spare pair of merino underwear which are always nice near the end of a hike, some icebreaker gt merino leggings, mainly used after making camp, these, covered by a pair of montbell windproof pants form a nice micro climate if it gets really chilly. the long sleeve rab aeon top is a light synthetic base layer which pairs nicely with the omm rotor smock with its man-made primaloft one fill. a black rock gear down hat and a pair of possum down gloves, along with a waterproof montane e.vent air jacket top things off and are kept near the top of the pack. this set up, on its own, or mixed with the worn clothing items are fine for most three season conditions or in camp.
all these items are carried in the hip belt pocket of my pack. an esee candiru fixed blade knife, along with an exotac fire rod which contains some tinder for assisting in fire lighting, a fox 40 micro whistle, princeton tec pulsar torch, silva ranger 27 compass, 10m of spectra 1.4mm cord, aquamira water filter, first aid/medical kit with, plus lip balm, tenacious repair tape and a chocolate bar. hopefully never to be used in anger.
the bits and pieces, the odds and sods, the extras/misc kit, the ditty bag. i carry a slightly more extensive first aid/medical kit, space emergency bag, princeton tec headlamp, insect repellent, head net, toilet paper/soap, tooth brush/paste, towel/pegs, zip ties. a few little goodies in a bag that make back-country travel that little bit easier/nicer.
if its nice weather when i first start out, then this is what i usually wear, but i can mix and match between this and the packed clothing list. i find the injinji toe socks to be very comfortable in the new balance minimus trail shoes, and also like the feel of icebreaker merino boxers under the columbia silver ridge cargo pants. the long sleeve hooded version of the rab meco 165 is warm/cool enough for most conditions and wicks well, but if it gets windy and chilly , then on goes my buff head sock and the rab vapour rise lite vest. for the really wet and nasty, the montane jacket is packed pretty close. hopefully my shades from smith optics and rusty bucket hat will be on instead. i keep track of time with a timex watch, keep track of some of the surroundings on a sony w350 camera, and keep on the track with the help of the leki carbon trekking poles and a map/trail guide.