I have been asked what goes into planning for a normal bush walk. The first thing to consider is the weather and which direction it’s coming from. That determines my choice of destination. It’s no point planning a trip to an area that’s about to be hammered by a Southwesterly change or whiteout conditions. I use the Windy website for all of my forecasts, bearing in mind that the worlds largest supercomputers are used for forecasting, and they still get it wrong. Weather forecasting in Tasmania is complex and strongly influenced by the varied topography of the island, so it’s bound to be inaccurate for some locations. But overall Windy is very good.
Once the destination has been chosen, it’s very simple to choose my gear. I carry one selection in winter and another in summer. Winter includes a heavier sleeping bag (Mont Spindrift series) and always a 4 season tent (Mont Dragonfly). Summer is a Helium sleeping bag and a Moondance 1 FN tent. I like my comfort, so the sleeping bag goes on top of an Exped Winterlite Synmat.
Clothing varies slightly. I’ll take a Mont fleece balaclava and warm gloves in winter, but everything else stays the same, particularly since here in Tasmania we can get some pretty cold outbreaks in summer. I always have my Mont Powerstretch Pro top and light long john thermals, polar fleece Slinx top and Guide Hoodie jacketalong with a fleece beanie and a brimmed hat for walking if it’s sunny.
In winter I will often carry Khatoola Microspikes if it’s likely to be icy. If you haven’t used these before they are a revelation. And if I’m expecting a decent quantity of snow, MSR EVO snowshoes.
I always have my Mont Odyssey jacket and waterproof trousers with me and wear Mont Mojo shorts which are very fast drying and comfortable.
I don’t carry water on a Tasmanian bushwalk as there is always a creek along the way somewhere. Naturally, if you are walking in more arid area, water is a major consideration (and weight!).
It’s always wise to carry a paper map and compass (and know how to use it!), but in these days of GPS, I usually rely on that and keep the map as a backup. I also have a Garmin Fenix 5x, and occasionally I will load a route into that. It’s a remarkable watch.
Naturally, I carry a small first aid kit (which includes a snake bandage in summer), and since I mostly walk solo, I consider it is vital to have good off-grid communications. I always carry a PLB, an Ocean Signal Rescue Me PLB1 which is very compact plus an InReach satellite messenger. These also travel with me on day walks. The InReach is very usable, and it allows me to keep my wife up to date with progress plus it’s a great intermediate form of communication if there is a problem that’s not of sufficient magnitude to activate a PLB. Fortunately, I have never been in that situation, but there’s always a first time. I think that in this day of relatively cheap communications that it is the responsible thing to do to carry a PLB.
I use an MSR Windburner stove which is a great little stove that works fine in a windy situation. I used to use a Jetboil Minimo that is more controllable, more fuel-efficient and nicer to use but more wind affected.
And then there is the 5+kgs of camera gear...
All of this gear goes into my Mont Backcountry pack.
And probably the most important thing to pack is a good amount of respect for the environment, commonsense and experience.
Normal commonsense considerations are, don’t camp under large trees if it can be avoided, think about whether your campsite can flood if it rains heavily, try not to pitch your tent in extremely exposed locations if the weather is at all doubtful, undo your pack waistbelt and use a supporting stick if crossing rivers, and I personally do not like being out in thunderstorms.
And probably the most important thing to pack is a good amount of respect for the environment, commonsense and experience. And knowing when to retreat from a situation is really important. There is always next time.
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