What gear you take on a trip is often a very personal thing. If you are used to Tramping, Hiking or Mountain Biking you will definitely have set gear you can’t do without or some gear you know is good and works for you. If you haven’t done a lot of outdoors or you haven’t done the Heaphy Track and not sure what to expect then it can be a little bit more daunting. This blog is to give you an idea of what we take on most trips - not just the Heaphy Track but other places in the Kahurangi and New Zealand. Everyone has their own preferences and what we suggest is just an idea and by no means a definitive list!
We find the best is to be well prepared for what you are undertaking - which takes a little organising in advance. Lay out your gear and food and go through every item to ensure you have what you need and what you have is in good working order. Check your batteries are good, or fully charged; walking poles are fully functional; boots are in good order; zips on jackets, bags and sleeping bags are working; pack straps are fully stitched - side pockets attached; lighters/matches working; tent has all poles and pegs; PLB is operational and details updated; etc. etc.
The weather on the Heaphy Track can be unpredictable and the forecasted weather can change rapidly. Cover your bases and be prepared for Sun to Heavy Rain and possible sub zero temperatures.
Use a ‘layered’ clothing system - have multiple functional layers that you can take on and off easily to adjust to the weather and your body temperature. Merino and quick dry technology clothing is much more preferable to cotton and old style wool based items. Keep these items to hand at the top of your pack so you don’t have to dig/search for them when needed.
Always have a set of dry clothes in a waterproof bag for when you get to the hut. Always keep your sleeping bag in a waterproof bag. Use a good quality pack liner to help keep things dry.
We find if you lay your gear out and go from head to toe and mentally check list everything off you can quickly organise all your items -
Base layers - merino tops/thermals
Good quality waterproof jacket (toggled neck, side hand pockets, toggled/velcro wrists, good fitting hood)
It’s great if your jacket extends over your rear at least a third way down your thighs.
Quick dry body armour bottoms
Quick dry shorts
Leggings (we rarely wear trousers, usually just shorts and then leggings if cold - this is personal preference)
Over-trousers (waterproof trousers if the weather gets really nasty!! Not always carried but if the forecast is looking dicey or we are going on a long trip then definitely)
Good quality thick socks (a day pair - same pair each day and a dry night pair - same pair each night)
Good quality walking boots Make sure worn in - (never go on a big hike with a brand new pair unless you love blisters!!)
Gaiters (not necessary on the Heaphy but off-track jaunts, personal preference or keeping the rain out might dictate otherwise)
Thermal long sleeve top
Puffer jacket or other cozy top
Thermal long sleeve bottoms
Nice thick socks
Jandals or sandals - often good in the hut or for just popping out to the toilet etc.
WE TEND TO US THE SAME GEAR EACH DAY - AS IN THE SAME OUTDOORS CLOTHES EACH DAY AND SAME HUT CLOTHES EACH DAY. SAVES ON CARRYING TOO MUCH AND WHO CARES WHAT YOU SMELL/LOOK LIKE IN THE HILLS!
First Aid Kit - doesn’t have to be extensive but good to have pain killers, strapping tape, sling, scissors, emergency survival blanket, electrolytes.
Mobile phone - photographs (it’s an amazing place - get some records of it), can make emergency calls at Aorere, top of Mt Perry, Heaphy River Mouth, Kohaihai.
PLB - no one thinks they need one till they do. So small and relatively cheap you might as well carry one. Can be rented if you are travelling or you don’t want to purchase one. Only to be used in absolute emergency - if you can walk out or sit it out then it shouldn’t be used!
Towel - light weight/quick dry. There’s plenty of swim holes that are amazingly refreshing on a nice day!
Eating/drinking utensils - cup/plate/bowl/spork - cooking pot if required. Good sharp knife.
Lighter for gas cookers - there are gas cookers at every hut on the Heaphy Track except Brown and Gouland so you do not need your own cookers unless staying at those huts or camping.
Head torch - with spare batteries!
Good quality tramping pack in good condition.
Packs with smaller detachable day packs are great if you are planning a few side trips - Mt Perry, Gouland Caving etc.
Water bladder - really good for consistent easy hydration throughout the day.
Pack Liner - keep your gear dryer with a good quality pack liner. We would still have our hut dry gear in another waterproof/dry bag to ensure it will always be dry when you get to your evening spot.
Front pockets or belt bag - great for phones/cameras or sweets/treats!!
Lay out all your food. Each breakfast/Lunch/Dinner and snacks (lots of snacks!!). Carry at least one more days worth of food than your intended trip - in case you get stuck/injured or more hungry than you anticipated!
Treats/Sweets - always nice on the track, especially if you have young ones with you!
Make sure you have enough for everyone for everyday but be realistic - you likely won’t need a KG of cheese so just take enough. Dehydrated foods are light and easy-use. We use BackCountry Cuisine a lot.
Walking poles - fantastic for the uphills and decents! We use them while running too!
Games - cards, banana grams, Monopoly deal are some of our favourites!
Spare inner tube - even if tubeless.
Chain breaker and spare links
Good quality gear carriers - purpose made for frame/handlebars/seat stem
Seat dropper is a great asset on the Heaphy Track
Good light - in case you are running late
Always carry a PLB if biking - in our opinion why not. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind and a big price to pay if you get injured and can’t get help!
Good lightweight tent. Set it up before your trip and get (re-)familiar with it - ensure you have enough pegs and everything is in good working order (Zips/guide ropes/peg loops etc)
Air mattress - more lightweight the better.
The above seems like a lot but go though everything and ensure you have the essentials. Keep it light if you can. Share the load. You don’t all need a tube of toothpaste - take one between you. Get each person in your group to make an evening meal then you only carry for that night rather than food for yourself for every night! Trial pack all your gear beforehand to ensure it fits in your pack and is comfortable. Remember you can wear the same clothes each day - you don’t need clean gear for each day!!
Feel free to CONTACT US for gear recommendations or further advice. Remember a great way to sort your Heaphy Track Transport logistics is to have your private or rental car relocated. If you are Mountain Biking the Heaphy Track it is fantastic not to be tied into scheduled services and have the freedom to start and finish on your terms and have your own bike transport gear. Check out Heaphy Track Help’s HEAPHY TRACK CAR RELOCATION options.