Gear List. What I brought on the trails.
I bought most of my gear in Seattle before I left for New Zealand. High-quality gear bought in New Zealand is pricey especially if you want to go 'ultralight'.
Tip: If you join the New Zealand Alpine club your membership gets you a 30% discount on all items at MacPac and 20% at Bivouc stores in New Zealand. It also gives you a huge discount on your back-country hut pass which is a necessary purchase when walking the Te Araroa on the south island. I used these benefits frequently. Joining the Alpine club is a must anyways if you want to join other climbing trips, take courses, and stay in other amazing huts that are not part of the DOC system. For more on the New Zealand Alpine Club benefits follow this link. https://alpineclub.org.nz/membership-benefits/
The Gear List.
- Back-country hut pass 6 to 12 months...see above . Gives access to over 900 back-country huts in NZ. For more information follow this link. http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-stay/stay-in-a-hut/booking-and-paying/backcountry-hut-pass-hut-ticket-terms-and-conditions/
- Backpack 35 Litre Deuter Notes: Most people had much bigger packs than this! This is always my main travel pack for everything and I love it. It fits as carry-on luggage in airplane overhangs. A lot of people say 35 L is too small though and when I walked portions solo I had to carry more weight. An easy solution for this was to swap out my more comfortable inflatable sleeping pad and strap a cheap foam pad and my tent to the outside of my pack, which made more than enough space for everything else I needed….If you choose to do this just make sure your tent is in a durable bag and take care when walking through sticker bushes and brush as this could damage your most expensive equipment.
- Garmin Etrex 20 GPS Notes: Buying and using the GPS unit served as a nice backup comfort, even though I ended up only using it a couple of times and that was just out of curiosity to see how many kilometers I had walked and at what speed. Most people I met along the trail used their phones, and downloaded one of two Te Araroa apps. One app cost 40 dollars and showed water sources and detailed notes (much more detailed than the TA notes on the official website).
- Tent Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL3 Mountain glow Notes: Great tent but fit for 3 people so a bit excessive. When I camped with a partner though it was a dream, we had so much space in the tent! A bit heavier than I would have liked but this was my choice for space. This tent came with built in LED lights which was unique but still unnecessary especially when you are trying to shed as much weight as possible.My favorite tent though of all time and the perfect backpacking tent was the Big Agnes Copper spur 2. So lightweight and roomy. I recommend this and it frequently gets rated as the top backpacking tent.
- Foam pad Generic Notes: Only costs 15 dollars, super lightweight and ideal while I was solo trekking. Not as comfortable or warm as my inflatable pad, but it served its purpose well. I switched this out for my inflatable mat when I wasn't walking alone and had someone to share the weight.
- REI Air rail 1.5 Inflatable sleeping mat R value 4.2 Notes: You typically want to look for a high R value when shopping for sleeping mats. The higher the R-value the more heat your mat will hold.
- Salomon Women's Ultra GTX hiking shoes waterproof Notes: I have a lot to say about picking the right shoe. These shoes were incredibly comfortable, felt light-weight and great waterproof protection. Ultimately picking the right shoe will be different for everyone. You have to know how your body reacts to different terrain and distance. I met many people on the trails wearing the same shoes and they loved them without complaint. I've never liked or previously hiked in heavy duty boots. They always felt awkward, or too confining or heavy. Even on the 14 day Everest base camp trek I walked in poorly made sneakers I bought in India and was fine. For short multi-day trips with a light pack I would hands down recommend this shoe. After 1,000 kilometers these shoes were still in near perfect condition. I will hike many more trails in these shoes! However, if I could go back in time I would have picked a much heavier, sturdier shoe for walking this trail. I underestimated how my feet would feel when carrying a heavy load while walking over tree roots, unstable tussock pockets, uneven marshlands and sidling on scree routes. My feet ached EVERY day and the pain was brutal at times. I even had to jump off the trail for a week after the Richmond range because of a strained muscle in my foot that swelled up, most likely from hitting my foot repeatedly on boulders and tree roots. A heavier shoe would have helped my feet to better handle the daily pounding.
- Sunscreen High SPF Notes:With the ozone layer hole over New Zealand \this is necessary!!! Want to know more about the ozone hole? Follow link: https://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/ozone-aus.html
- Sun hat
- Wool socks
- Merino underwear
- Long sleeve shirts
- Hiking pants
- Merino beanie hat Notes: tons of merino products in New Zealand so you can wait till you arrive too to purchase them
- First aid supply (band-aids, Neosporin, ace bandage)
- MSR pocket rocket stove Notes: I LOVE this little guy….maybe my favorite backpacking purchase yet. It was lightweight and really could fit in my pocket. Worked like a dream.
- Waterproof down jacket by Outdoor research Notes: loved this jacket. Super lightweight and WARM.
- REI Joule down sleeping bag Notes: This is an amazing sleeping bag, but it was almost TOO warm for every section of this hike. I woke up in a sweat more often than not and I couldn’t cowboy camp with it because of the dew build up. The material was not water resistant enough. The Te Araroa, especially on the south island has an extensive hut system and walkers will mostly find themselves in full huts at night in relatively small quarters. That being said it gets hot at night. Real hot. I would opt for a sleeping bag with a higher degree if you can.
- Isobutane fuel for stove Notes: You will find this in every camping store and resupply stop.
- Lighter and matches
- 1 spork
- Water bottle
- 1 pot
- 1 plastic cup for drinking tea, coffee, cocoa etc.
- Journal and pen
- Laptop and cords Notes: Sometimes lap top on stretches where I had to work in town after a hike. Not recommended if you care about your laptop staying clean and if you don’t want extra weight. See also post on remote working.
- Phone, although I rarely used it. Notes: If I had a great phone I would have used it much more as a multipurpose tool!
- Camera Notes: An important necessity, unless you have a good phone camera. You will want pictures of this place!!
- Rain shell for pack
- Rain jacket
- Ski poles
Gear I started with then decided it was unnecessary weight and either shipped it or stashed it with friends:
• Sandals/flip-flops At the end of the day my feet were usually in pain and wearing sandals would have come second to being barefoot anyways. See also notes on shoes.
• Laptop Sometimes for work I couldn't avoid carrying this. See also post on remote working if you might have to do something similar.
• Full journal I started just bringing sheets of paper I could fold up for each section.
• The Te Araroa official book This was heavy and totally unnecessary. The information in the book other than nice 3D maps was also pretty useless. Better to download maps on phone or use the app. I also downloaded the official trail notes onto the kindle instead.
For food items see post on backpacking menu and trail food favorites.
Wish list items: The items I will take next time I decide to do a long through-hike:
• A great cell phone with long battery life. I didn’t carry any music on the trail which was a great experience but next time I’d like the option to walk a section every once in a while listening to songs that inspire me or have been stuck in my head for days anyway. A phone with loads of music would be great and it would also serve as an alarm clock, GPS unit, space for trail notes and pictures. A good cell phone is a weight saver!
• A small portable solar charger….for the phone I will have, and for the kindle.
• Collapsible walking poles. I bought and used ski poles at a thrift store on the south island, they were sturdy but inconvenient at times.
• Smaller and lighter tent. [I will use the Big Agnes Copper Spur 2. It is the ultimate light-weight backpacking tent. A bit expensive but I highly recommend it.]
• Smaller and lighter inflatable pad
• Aluminum skirt for stove to block out wind
• A better lightweight cup or mug for tea and coffee. Maybe tin.
All gear I used can be found below with current prices and other reviews. Tip: Always read gear reviews before you purchase backpacking equipment. Some of this stuff will last you many years so you want it to be perfect!