Overview

Choosing the right tramping gear is crucial, but isn’t always so easy. 

Firstly, you need to know what the must have items are, and what gear you might want to take but should probably leave at home.Tramper with pack at Tongariro National Park

Plus, you’ll want your gear to be light. A heavy pack will slow you down and take a lot more effort and energy to haul up those hills.

A few kilos of extra weight can make a huge difference to your enjoyment of your tramp – especially if everyone around you has a lighter pack and is finding the going easier!

Then there’s the cost. Lightweight tramping gear can be expensive. Do you want to spend that money, or could you find a cheaper alternative that’ll still do the job?

This page has links to help you decide what gear to buy, and comprehensive gear checklists for your multiday tramps.

Your tramping gear – what to buy

It can be hard getting sound independent advice on what tramping gear to buy. Online advice can be a minefield, and brick and mortar retailers will often sell you anything via sales people who don’t know that much.

So what do you do?

You read our very own Uncle Wacko’s columns. Uncle Wacko

Now be warned, Uncle Wacko’s a bit of a character - opinionated, not afraid to call a spade a spade, and prone to using rather colourful language. But he knows his stuff and his advice is sound. In fact, he’d probably call you a plonker if you didn’t buy the gear he recommends!

To tap into that advice click on the tabs at the top of the page. Here's what's covered:

What pack to buy

- What to look for in a pack, and 6 superb lightweight and (mostly) cheap options

Your tent

Key shelter advice

- What to look for in a tent to handle NZ conditions, and the 4 best brands for high quality lightweight double skin tents

- The 4 best single skin shelters to buy

- If price is an issue – the surprisingly good local tent manufacturer

Sleeping bags and pads

The right sleeping system for you

- Everything you need to know about buying a sleeping bag, and the 4 bags and brands Uncle Wacko recommends

- The lowdown on sleeping pads and liners

Pack, tent and sleeping system combinations

- 4 recommended combinations of your “big 3” gear based on different priorities: the lightest weight, most features (comfort), lowest price and a middle road (value for money)

Keeping you pack weight down

- What tramping gear to take and what it should weigh


Alpine gear for hire

For club members, there is some club gear for hire including:

- Alloy shafted Ice Axes

- Crampons

- Snow Shovels, large and small

- Snow Stakes

This gear is hired out at nominal rates. Call Keith Ayton:

Phone: 09 630 7010 (between 7pm - 9pm)


Please clean your gear after every tramping trip!

We all know that our trips around the country can get a bit muddy, and there are constant reminders of the possibility of us transmitting plants, diseases and pests to places where they don’t currently exist – weeds, kauri dieback, didymo, and of course the island sanctuaries that are predator free.

Muddy tramping boots

So all of us need to be constantly aware of the risks around us:

- Clean and dry boots thoroughly

- Clean and dry gaiters thoroughly

- Clean and dry walking poles

- Ensure packs are clean and free of plant material between trips


 

Multiday Tramping Gear Checklists

Equipment

Packearly ATC tramper with bulky pack

Waterproof pack liner

Tent or fly

Groundsheet (optional)

Sleeping bag, liner (optional)

Sleeping pad or air mattress

Cooker, fuel, lighter/matches

Pot(s), cup, utensils, plate/bowl

Water bottles

Torch and spare batteries

Toiletries, first aid, medications

Map and compass

Gps, plb or InReach (shared in the group)

Clothes

Boots or stout shoes, socks

Shorts or quick-dry trousers

Underwear

Baselayer(s)

Fleeces for insulation

Waterproof rain jacket with hood 

Over-trousers

Headwear – sunhat and beanie, sunglasses (optional)

Gloves

Spare underwear, socks

Hut/camp clothes (additional to your tramping clothes)

Light shoes for hut/camp (optional)

Food

Enough for all meals and snacks – see more tramping food suggestions.


Notes about your tramping gear

Contact the trip leader with any concerns or gear short-falls - you might be able to borrow or share items.

Tents, cooking equipment and meals can be shared with others, if arrangements are made in advance.

Several retailers have gear available for hire, including tents, packs, sleeping bags, boots etc


Best Lightweight Packs

This article first appeared in the Uncle Wacko’s Gear Corner column of Wanderlust, our ATC Club magazine, April 2019 edition.Uncle Wacko

It is repeated here as a potential tramping gear resource for NZ conditions.

Warning: Uncle Wacko has strong views and may challenge tramping assumptions and sensibilities!

How to Get Yourself a Cracker Pack

Some of you have serious mis-contraceptions about packs, so here’s what you need to know:

Volume

50-60 litres is all you need. That’ll do you for a week plus. Unless you’re mountaineering. Think you need more? Then you’re as clueless as a possum in headlights – you’ve got too much gear, or it’s too bulky.

Weight

600g to 1.2 kg is the sweet spot. Any more is overkill.

Comfort

No, you don’t need no new-fangled ventilation system or unique harness giving superior ride comfort, or any other marketing twaddle they try to sell you. All packs are pretty good comfort wise these days.

Mesh pockets

Part of pretty much all lightweight packs, but our NZ bush can obliterate ‘em. Not all mesh is equal though so choose stronger stuff.

IMPORTANT! Don’t ever, ever let Uncle Wacko see you in an Aarn pack – you’ll get both barrels. They’re bloody ridiculous. Nobody should be seen charging around the hills looking like Michelin Man. And every bloke should see to pee. They’re crazy complicated - remember the KISS formula?? Get your pack weight down and you won’t need no bulging boob bags to balance an overweight load.

 

Which pack to buy

Here are the 3 ways to get yourself a humdinger pack:

Option 1: Cheap and good - buy from the US

Some smaller outfits in the US turn out cracker lightweight packs that'll do you proud at down to earth prices. Here are Uncle Wacko’s picks:

Granite Gear Crown 60  All the features a latte-sipping Aucklander could want, and built to take the knocks. Cheap as chips at USD 200. Beat that!

ULA Circuit  Thru hikers drool over the Circuit, and fair enough. Solid design, compact, long-lasting. Has been a damn fine pack for many years.

Gossamer Gear Mariposa  Don’t let the poncy name put you off. Ticks all the boxes and another proven performer. Great pockets.

Six Moons Designs Minimalist  Uncle Wacko salivates over this one. Solid as, all the features, kill the frame and it morphs into a 740g weekender.

Granite Gear Crown 2 packULA Circuit packGossamer Gear Mariposa pack6MD Minimalist Pack

Option 2: Buy the lightest – take a bow ZPacks

The Arc Blast is in a class of its own – 55 litres and just 600 grams. Stone the keas, me nana’s crochet bag weighs more than that!ZPacks Arc Blast Pack

They’re crazy light cos they’re made from cuben fibre. That means two things – they probably won’t last as long as other packs, and they’re nosebleed expensive – the Arc Blast will set you back around USD 380.

It’s the pack for those who want the lightest (and why wouldn’t you?) and are happy to part with the extra dosh.

Uncle Wacko reckons it’s a cracker, well worth the price.

Option 3: Buy local – it has to be Osprey

This option is for the Nervous Nellies and Dithering Dickeys reluctant to buy online. Or who just have to try it on. Locally there’s really only Osprey – everything else is just too heavy.

Osprey always seem to have a well-priced model around the kilo mark.

Personally, Uncle Wacko doesn’t like ‘em much – they’re so goddam strappy, flappy and buckley. They look like they need a good seeing to with a pair of scissors. (Editor: that’s rich coming from him!)

Head into Bivouac and see what you think. The Levity/Lumina 60 at 890 grams and $330 looks the go, but no belt pockets would kill it for me.

Here’s a summary of your options:

Pack comparison table

So that’s your pack sorted.

Spot ya.

Uncle Wacko

Buying a Tent

These 3 articles first appeared in the Uncle Wacko’s Gear Corner column of Wanderlust, our ATC Club magazine, in May 2019, June 2019 and May 2020 respectively.Uncle Wacko

They are repeated here as a potential tramping gear resource for NZ conditions.

Warning: Uncle Wacko has strong views and may challenge tramping assumptions and sensibilities!

Quick links to the articles:

Double walled tents

Single skin shelters

A good local option

Sorting your Shelter

She’s a big subject this one, so let's rip right into your education.

Single vs double wall

First you need to decide between single and double skin. Single skin are lighter, cheaper and pack smaller, but colder and you need to know how to manage condensation and maybe "misting".

With an inner and a fly, double walled tents are warmer and give better overall water protection. But they’re bulkier, heavier and cost more. 

Double skins are where you should start, and they’ll suit most people most of the time. Uncle Wacko reckons you should get a truckload of backcountry trips under your belt before tackling single skin.

Materials

Some manufacturers are using materials more flimsy than a bride’s negligee and damn near as see-through. The result is they’re producing shelters that simply aren’t robust enough or waterproof enough for NZ conditions.

In persistent rain or on a boggy site, water will pond under your tent. With a flimsy floor, your body weight can force that water right through it. Uncle Wacko reckons your floor should be 5000 mm hydrostatic head – any less and you need a groundsheet. 10,000 hh is the gold standard.

And your fly should be 3000 mm, ideally 5000. Any less, and prolonged rain can come marching right through it. Wet sleeping bag, anybody?

You’ll find heaps of tents with lower specs than this. They’ll work fine 95% of the time. But you may just come a gutser when you really need your shelter to do what it’s supposed to do … you know, actually shelter you. Like in the sort of storms we can get in the hills in NZ, any time of year.

 

If you want to take that risk, go for it. But Uncle Wacko reckons you’re more addled than a kereru gorging on rotting puriri berries.

Weight

1.25kg max for double skin, 800g for single. Anything above that is just extra weight you don’t need to be lugging around.

Pegs

Some tents come with rubbish pegs. Swap them out for Groundhogs or Mini Groundhogs if you want you shelter to stay put in a decent blow.

What to buy - doozy double skin, 1 person tents

So you want your personal palace to look the part, stand up to the elements and not weigh too much? Then here's what to buy.

Hilleberg – the Rolls Royce of tents

The Hilleberg Enan is a work of art. Beautifully constructed, 1.2 kg, 12K hh floor, 5K outer. Uncle Wacko reckons tents don’t come much better than this. But you sure pay for that quality. Pick one up at a snip from the NZ dealers for a mere NZD1154. Yeah, I know ... or find one online. 

Hilleberg Enan tent

Vaude – consistently excellent

The Lizard GUL 1P is the go, but potentially a tad tight for those of Uncle Wacko's herculean proportions – it’s 600 wide, 75cm headroom. But get this: 10K floor, 3K outer, 690 grams. NZD600 - 700 online. 

Vaude have 2 other killer tents, BUT with 3000 hh fly and floor (consider a groundsheet). The Power Lizard SUL 1-2P is spaaacious for 1, genuinely Ok for 2 - Uncle Wacko can attest to this after spending a stormy night in one on the tops with a bony-elbowed sheila following an unfortunate incident with another tent. 1.16kg.

And the Hogan SUL 1-2P, front entry, 1.25 kg, also a cracker tent.

Terra Nova – pommy perfection 

You see plenty of Laser Competition 1s about and they've been a cracker tent in NZ conditions over many years. 6K floor, 5K fly, 970g. Or for more room, get the (so-called) 2 person at 1.23kg.

Plus Terra Nova have 2 other tents with 5K floor, 3K fly. The smallish Laser Photon is 720g, the bigger Solar Photon 2, 849g. What’s not to like there!

Prices for all 3 vary - hunt around and pick one up for NZD500-700.

Nordisk - Europe's favourite

The Telemark 1LW is 850g, has an 8K hh floor but borderline 2K fly, NZD600 - 700 online. The roomier 2 LW is 970g, and there’s an ULW version saving a few more grams for extra cost. Not bad eh! No wonder they're so popular in Europe.

Nordisk Telemark

So there you go – 4 ripper brands and a bunch of cracker 3-season tent options that'll see you right in the hills. 

Next month – single skins.

Right now I’m off to catch up with that bony-elbowed sheila you reminded me of.

Spot ya.

Uncle Wacko


Sublime Single Skin Shelters 

Hunters just wander up, sling up an acre of plastic between some trees, chuck down a groundsheet and that's their shelter. Works for them.

But trampers won’t always have trees around, want a shelter that’s light and packs small, and generally aren’t keen on being ravaged by mozzies. So a shaped fly with built in floor and bug netting is the way to go. 

And these fantastic shelters from reliable outfits are exactly that – don’t let Uncle Wacko see you even thinking about buying anything else!

The Lunar Solo from 6 Moons Designs

The Lunar Solo is a ripper – spacious, robust, well-designed and cheap. The only negative is its 3000 hh floor, so consider a groundsheet. Fly is just OK at 2,500. Silnylon with single trekking pole setup, or buy separately. 740g (excluding stakes & pole). A bargain at USD200 + seam sealing USD30. 

6MD Lunar Solo tent

Tarptent Aeon Li

The Aeon Li is new - and sensational! Cuben fibre, single trekking pole setup, 496 grams (excluding pole). It has two great innovations – a structural peak strut, and a raised back wall with corner vents – giving way better wind stability, more living space, better ventilation. If you’ve got USD535 to spare, don’t hesitate.

Tarptent Aeon Li tent

ZPacks Plexamid

The reigning king of cuben fibre until Henry’s Aeon Li came along and bumped it off its perch. The Plexamid is still a great tent though - 420 grams (excluding stakes and pole), single trekking pole setup, USD549. 

Tarptent Protrail 

The Protrail is a great silnylon option if you use 2 trekking poles. Front entry setup with a shortened pole at rear. Like the Lunar Solo, floor isn't ideal at 3000 hh, but fly is 5000. 737g (excluding poles), USD229 + seam-sealing USD35. 

So that’s your shelter done and dusted – crazy light, eh. Next month we’re on to sleeping bags – don’t miss it.

Spot ya.

Uncle Wacko


A couple more tent options

Now Uncle Wacko steered you to some cracker tents a few months back. 

But a few of you have apparently balked at their cost. So what do you do if you’re a bit squeaky in the back pocket area and don't want to part with too much dosh?

Well you sure don't dive into The Warehouse where everyone gets a bargain. Or buy from some dodgy Chinese or Ukrainian website. 

Instead you go to InTents Outdoors, an Auckland-based online retailer. 

Now Uncle Wacko has met Len the owner and he's a decent bloke with a genuine interest in good tent design and manufacture. 

He uses good materials and as far as Uncle Wacko can tell after a bit of a jiggery poke with a couple of his products on a gentle outing or two, they look to be well made. And they're certainly very well priced.

He's got quite a range, so take a gander at these ones:

Double skin

Indie 1 person silnylon ultralight, 990g, $249. Dimensions: 73cm wide at head/foot, 95cm max width, x 210cm long x 110cm max height.

Ultrapack DW 1 person, 900grams, $182. Smaller: 50 - 80cm wide, 215cm long, 110cm max height, so only buy if you’re a bit of a weed petite.

Both these tents set up with a single trekking pole (or buy separately), and have 3000mm hh fly and floor, so consider a groundsheet. 

Single skin

Odyssey Silnylon ultralight 1 person, 900g, an excellent pyramid-style shelter, 3000 hh fly and 5000 hh floor, single trekking pole set up, $229.

InTents Odyssey Silnylon ultralight 1 person tent

Check out their website and give Len a call – he’ll see you right. 

And be sure to tell him you're from ATC.

Spot ya.

Uncle Wacko

Sleeping Bags and Pads

These two articles first appeared in the Uncle Wacko’s Gear Corner column of Wanderlust, our ATC Club magazine, in July and August 2019 respectively.Uncle Wacko

They are repeated here as a potential tramping gear resource for NZ conditions.

Warning: Uncle Wacko has strong views and may challenge tramping assumptions and sensibilities!

Quick link to second article:

Rounding out your sleeping system

How to get a beaut sleeping bag

Start by deciding on the lowest temperature your bag will have to handle. 

For most of you, this’ll be -2° to -4°. Unless you really feel the cold, this should see you right for all but winter or alpine camping trips. If it gets a bit brass monkey on you, piling on more clothes will help. 

Now all bags have stated temperature ratings, so choosing one that’ll handle the range you want should be a piece of cake, right? 

Yeah, nah. Not so fast.

The truth about manufacturers’ temperature ratings 

So there’s this Standard, EN13537, with a recognised method for testing sleeping bag temperature ratings. So it’s all scientific – great right?

Problem is, many manufacturers ignore it completely and concoct their own ratings. Many of those ratings are dodgier than a loyal Trump staffer – some are so fanciful they’re downright dangerous.

So follow this rule:

Only believe temperature ratings where the bag has been tested and rated against the Standard, or you know you can trust the manufacturer. 

 

Stick to this, and you’re pretty much right. Blokes should work off the "Lower limit", sheilas the "Comfort" rating.

Here’s a few other things you’ll want to know.

Buy down, not synthetic 

Only consider a synthetic bag if you’re going to be in prolonged wet conditions. They handle moisture better, but hey, you’d be a bit of a drongo getting any sleeping bag wet, wouldn’t you? 

Down is way lighter and crunches down much smaller in your pack.

Only buy high loft down 

Down quality varies big time. You want at least 800 loft, ideally higher. It fluffs up much more than lower loft, so is warmer – you need less of it for the same temperature. Meaning a lighter, less bulky bag. 

There is one ever so minor downside to this though – high loft down is eye-wateringly expensive. Suck it up, geese with the good genes don’t come cheap apparently.

Do you sleep warm or cold?  

Shape

A mummy bag hugs your body more so is warmer – great if you’re a cold sleeper. But they can be way too hot, or claustrophobic, for warm sleepers. A looser rectangular shape is better for you.

Zips 

Zips add weight and are source of air ingress/egress. So the lightest bags have shorter zips. But warm sleepers often prefer longer zips for better ventilation options.

Hoods

Do you need one? Warm sleepers often don’t, so can bank the weight savings a bag without one gives. If it gets too parky you can wear a beanie - or take a separate down hoody.

What sleeping bag should I get?

Now that you know the basics, here are the brands to go for:

Western Mountaineering – they’re simply the best

I’ll let you into a secret – WM bags are so good Uncle Wacko was gonna recommend them and nuthin’ else here (but the bloody editor talked him out of it). 

They’re impeccably constructed, and temperature ratings spot on. Pick one that suits from their ExtremeLite Series – you won’t get better.

Recommended: TerraLite, semi rectangular, -4° comfort, 850 – 900 loft, 820 grams, USD510.

WM Terralite sleeping bag

Sea to Summit

The Spark or women’s cut Flame ranges are the go. They’re excellent bags, light and well-made, with the added advantage you should be able to climb into one and test it at your local supplier before buying.

Recommended: Spark III, mummy, -2° comfort, 850 loft, 650 grams, NZD600-700 with a bit of luck.

Sea to Summit Spark III sleeping bag

ZPacks

This is the brand if you want hoodless. They’re either full or ¾ length zip, 950 loft down, and just look at those weights! Trampers who own them invariably rave (on and on) about them – which says something.

Recommended: 20F Classic, -7° comfort, 950 loft, 560 grams, USD379.

Zpacks 20F

MacPac

They make good bags but don’t used the highest loft down so they’re a tad heavy. Their advantage is price – you’ll save yourself a hundy or two.

Recommended: Epic 400, mummy, -1° comfort, 800 loft, 810 grams, NZD460.

Macpac epic 400 sleeping bag

So there you go. You’ll be as snug as a bug in any of these bags. We’re really starting to get you sorted, aren’t we.

Spot ya.

Uncle Wacko


Rounding out your sleeping system

Sleeping Pads

Sleeping pads do two jobs: insulate you from the ground (so you don’t freeze your nunchucks off), and make you comfortable enough to sleep.

You’ve got two decent options. 

Closed cell foam 

There’s only one way this makes sense - cut yourself 4 sections a foot or so long and 500mm wide and tape them together on one side only. Foam sleeping pad

Laid out, they’re your sleeping pad, folded up the support in a super light frameless pack. Sit on ‘em during the day. Three birds with one stone, coupla hundred grams in weight, total cost less than 20 bucks. 

Uncle Wacko used this sophisticated setup for years - works a treat. 

But wait ... I can hear your gnashing and wailing from here. Not comfortable enough for your sedentary old bones? Then go for the second option.

Inflatable air pads 

To start with, forget self-inflating pads, they’re way too heavy and bulky. 

For three season use, blokes should get R-value 2 or above, sheilas and cold sleepers 3-4. R-value is a measure of insulating ability, so how well the pad lets you retain body heat. 

For winter you’ll want R-value 5, and for camping on snow take an additional thin foam pad as well. 

Standard pad length is 72 inches but there are also small and larger sizes. 

Newsflash: You probably don’t need a full length pad. Uncle Wacko only ever uses a small size outside winter, 119cm long, and he’s not exactly vertically challenged. 

Thing is, your legs don’t contact the ground that much, so why have a pad under something that’s off the ground anyway. You can slide some clothes or your pack under them if you need to. 

A small size save heaps on weight, bulk and dosh. 

What to buy

OK, let’s not ponce about here. The only mat to buy is the Thermarest NeoAir X-Lite. R-value 3.2. Regular is 350g, $399; small 230g, $329. Thermorest neoair xlite

Don’t even consider anything else – no other brand competes on weight, bulk or warmth. Thermarest are simply in a league of their own.

For winter, get the XTherm – R-value 5.7, 430 grams.

Think they’re a bit pricey? Tough, that’s just what you gotta pay. 

Sleeping Bag Liners

Liners slow down the soiling of your bag from sweat and body oils.

Or so they say. If you sleep butt naked, that might make sense. But if you wear a bunch of clothes, what difference are they really gonna make? 

And some of you are way, way too precious about having to wash a sleeping bag anyway. Get over it, it’s really not a problem. 

Ducks and geese don’t fall apart when they’re wet, and nor will your bag. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

So liners are an optional extra. 

I see they come in silk, cotton, fleece and polyester. My, my ... 

And can weigh anywhere from 100 to a completely ridiculous 300+ grams.

And here’s another ridiculous thing about bag liners – manufacturers’ claims about how much warmth they add. Don’t believe a word of it, it’s marketing twaddle. You might gain a degree or two, but most will do diddly squat. You’re way better off wearing a fleece or down jacket for extra warmth.Liners 1 Liners 2

If you must have a liner, buy whatever feels most comfortable and is still light. And enjoy the added excruciating delay in the middle of the night extricating yourself from your bag for those emergency bladder relief episodes.

So now you've got a sleep system – bag and mat, and liner if you want it. 

If you’ve followed Uncle Wacko’s advice (and you’d be a right plonker if you haven’t!) then your mat will weigh 230-350g and your bag 560-820g. Now that’s damn good kit at a nice low weight.

Lordy, we might even make competent lightweight trampers out of youz yet!

Spot ya.

Uncle Wacko


Gear Combos

This article first appeared in the Uncle Wacko’s Gear Corner column of Wanderlust, our ATC Club magazine, September 2019 edition.Uncle Wacko

It is repeated here as a potential tramping gear resource for NZ conditions.

Big 3 wrap up

So if you’ve been paying attention you’ll know we’ve now dealt to your big 3 items of tramping kit. We’ve steered you towards some stunningly good lightweight gear that’ll stand up to the rigours of NZ tramping.

But there are a bunch of options for each bit of kit and Uncle Wacko knows that when it comes to making decisions, some of you have a less than stellar track record. So he’s gonna make it even easier for you.

Here are 4 cracker gear combinations, each with a different focus. Pick your combo based on how fanatical you are about weight and quality, and how willing you are to part with your hard-earned dosh.

Prices aren’t included as they aren’t set in concrete and some would be in USD anyway. Weights are approximate.

The gram counter combo

For those who want the lightest kit no matter what, to hell with the price.

Combo 1

The perfectionist’s combo

Where you simply want the best – the most feature-filled, comfortable, durable – and are happy to pay for it.

Combo 2

The Scrooge McDuck combo

If price is key and you want the cheapest kit that’ll still do the job.

Combo 3

The compromise combo

Where you want value for money – you’ll happily pay a bit more for better quality or less weight, but not heaps more for a small gain.

Combo 4

So there you go - 4 top combos of great kit. Take your pick.

Spot ya.

Uncle Wacko


Reducing your Pack Weight

This article first appeared in the Uncle Wacko’s Gear Corner column of Wanderlust, our ATC Club magazine, April 2019 edition.Uncle Wacko

It is repeated here as a potential tramping gear resource for NZ conditions.

 

You can still see the odd dinosaur tramper struggling along under a monstrous pack stuffed to overflowing with heavy, bulky, decades-old gear. Slow, aren’t they …

Fortunately, most of us are smart enough to appreciate the benefits of lighter pack weights:

• the tramping is easier

• there’s less strain on the body

• tramps are more enjoyable

• we can travel at a faster clip if we need to

• we’re less tired at day’s end

• we can take on more challenging tramps

But how light is light? What’s a good pack weight for multiday tramps?

Uncle Wacko says your base weight should be comfortably under 9 kg. Your base weight is everything you’re carrying (not wearing), excluding food and water. 

Add in 500-700 grams a day for food and you’ve got a pack weight of under 10kg for an overnighter, around 12 kg for a 5-dayer.

This assumes you’re not carrying winter kit or an ice axe or spikes/crampons etc.

Now you can lug that sort of weight around the hills, can’t you?

The Breakdown

Here’s how to get your base weight down to where it should be.

Pack, shelter, sleeping (your big 3) – 3 kg max. Ultralightweight trampers will be closer to 2 kg; up to 3.5kg is still reasonably good. 

Uncle Wacko has banged on about the kit you need here ad nauseum, so no excuses.

Pack liner100g

Rain gear – overtrousers and rain jacket, 600 - 700g

Clothes (additional to what you’ll be tramping in) – fleece(s), camp/hut clothes, spare underwear & socks, beanie, gloves. 1.5 - 2kg

Footwear – most people take some sort of hut or spare shoes. Crocks are popular but are bulky and a monstrous 300 - 400g. Runners are even heavier, jandals and reef shoes a bit lighter. But do you really need anything at all? A good way to save weight is to take nothing.

Cooking, fuel, eating800g (very generous). True lightweighters ditch plates, use their pot lid as a cup, and have a titanium spoon or spork, Chux cloth to clean up, and small lighter.

Toiletries, hygiene, first aid, meds500g. Ditch your towel, it’s way too heavy, and use Chux cloths instead.

Water containers150g

Compass and maps100g if you print your own topos.

Electronics – a smartphone plus plb will be 300 grams, add a gps and power pack and you’ll be close to 700g.

Sundries – torch and batteries, knife or multitool, repair kit, maybe one or two other things, but make sure they’re light. 250g

So there you have it, a base weight comfortably under 9kg. Which actually isn’t that light at all – it’s a base weight everyone can achieve, without spending a fortune. 

Tons of trampers are way less – Uncle Wacko is typically under 7kg.

Think Uncle Wacko’s forgotten a few things? Nope, he hasn’t. Ask yourself if anything else is really essential. If not, it’s a luxury. 

If your base weight isn’t under 9kg, your kit’s too heavy and/or you’ve got a bunch of non-essentials. Ditch ‘em!

Next time we’ll talk food and what to take to keep to 500 - 700g a day.

Spot ya.

Uncle Wacko


Are you an Auckland Tramping Club member? If not, make sure you’re aware of the many benefits of joining ATC!