Pack 20-40 litres carrying capacity. The pack must be large enough to contain clothes and equipment to cover all weather conditions that may be encountered on the walk. Line it with a strong plastic bag or Dry Sack to keep contents dry. A pack rain cover is useful for extra protection in wet weather. Ensure the pack fits your body size and shape and is comfortable to carry for long periods. Women's packs are cut specifically for the female figure.
Water bottle or hydration pack Use aluminium or heavy duty BPA-free plastic water bottles, sufficient for 1-2 litres of water in summer or 1 litre in winter. Alternatively, a hydration pack fits inside the back pack and is accessed by sipping water through a tube.
Topographical map Maps should be laminated or protected in a map case.
Compass Purchase a compass specifically made for bushwalking. A small magnifier in the base plate is helpful for seeing the fine detail in a map. Learn and regularly practice how to use a map and compass.
GPS A GPS is optional, however it is unwise to rely on GPS alone. ALWAYS carry a map and compass.
Torch A compact LED torch gives the brightest light. Torch brightness is measured in lumens. More lumens means more light. A head torch is preferable to a hand held torch, making it easier to handle a map or clamber over rocks.
Whistle can be used to summon help in an emergency
Survival sack This is a large orange plastic bag used for emergency shelter.
Additional food Carry some muesli bars or other food in case of a delayed return
Rain jacket and trousers Pack rain protection even if the weather is sunny, as conditions can change without warning.
Spare clothing A fleece jacket, hat and gloves are useful for an unexpected change of weather conditions.
Trekking poles These are optional. Using two trekking poles enhances stability on rough terrain and eases the strain on joints. They fold or collapse to fit into a backpack, or attach by straps to the pack exterior.
Mobile phone Note that a mobile phone may not have reception in many areas, including urban national parks, and you should not rely on a phone as the sole means of summoning help in an emergency. Also note that your phone expends more energy seeking/changing between mobile phone towers, so when walking in bush and remote area your phone will typically discharge its battery more quickly as a result.
Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) At least one person in the group should carry a PLB. In life threatening situations the PLB can be used to summon emergency services. A PLB with GPS can locate a lost or injured bushwalker to within 10m. Beacons without GPS have an accuracy of 5km.
Trip plan Always leave a copy with a responsible person who can summon help if you don't return at the expected time.
Waterproof matches or a fire steel You may need to light a campfire in an emergency situation.
Sunscreen Water resistant SPF 30+.
Insect repellent Repellents should contain the ingredients DEET or Picardin if walking in areas known for ticks, or mosquitoes that could carry Ross River or Barmah Forest viruses.
First Aid Kit (see below)
Watch A watch is essential for monitoring the progress of the walk.
Sunglasses Wearing sunglasses is just as important as applying sunscreen to your skin for protection from UV radiation.
Duct tape A small quantity of duct tape can be used for emergency repairs of backpack straps, loose boot soles and tents.
Trowel A compact trowel or an old spoon are useful for burying toilet paper and human waste.
Personal First Aid kit contents
- Compact first aid manual
- 1 x triangular bandage
- 1 x medium wound dressing/ tape to attach the dressing
- 2 x 10 cm elastic compression bandages for treating snake bite
- Assorted bandaids
- Antiseptic liquid/cream
- Moleskin and/or blister kit
- Soluble pain relievers
- Insect repellent
- Salt (for leeches)
- Personal medications - with instructions
- Several vials of saline for washing wounds, eyes etc.
Additional gear for overnight trips
Ideally, pack weight when sharing equipment between two people should be 13 kg + 0.9 kg of food per day. Sharing equipment between walkers can considerably lighten your load.
Major items of overnight camping equipment can be borrowed or hired until you decide exactly what you need. Specialist bushwalking shops hire equipment and can also help with advice. Many clubs have equipment available for hire to members.
Taking care to clean, dry and air equipment after a walk will increase its reliability and lifespan.
Lightweight tent Talk to your outdoor gear supplier about the most suitable tent for your needs. An insect proof tent with fly increases comfort and keeps you dry in wet weather. Practice erecting it before your first hike.
Sleeping bag Feather down bags are compact and lightweight, with superior warmth to weight ratio. Synthetic bag are cheaper and dry quicker than down. Sleeping bags are rated for minimum temperatures. Consider the season and your own personal temperature tolerance when selecting a bag for the trip. Seal the bag in a plastic bag or Dry Sack to ensure that it stays dry. Use a sleeping bag liner to extend the life of the bag and keep it clean. Thermal liners are available to increase the bag's efficiency in cold weather.
Self-inflating sleeping mat These come in varying widths and lengths to suit large and small people. A ¾ length mat is more preferable for a pack walk, as it is lighter than a full length mat, which is more suitable for car camping
Pillow A small or inflatable pillow adds comfort to the trip. Alternatively, stuff spare clothing into the sleeping bag cover to act as a pillow.
Stove and billies Purchase lightweight, compact cooking equipment with components that fit into each other.
Fuel Bottle/s Inspect your fuel bottle before departure to ensure it is leak proof and clearly labelled.
Waterproof matches or a fire steel
Extra water container A used wine cask bladder or collapsible water bottle save space.
Mug, bowl/plate Lightweight, compact utensils bowls that fit into each other or are collapsible save space in your pack.
Eating utensils Select utensils that fit into each other, or use a multi purpose tool like a Spork
Pocket knife A Swiss Army Knife, or the equivalent, or a multi-tool has a thousand and one uses in the campsite.
Spare torch batteries
Toilet paper and a small towel for burying human waste.
Change of clothes
And if you still have room in the pack:
Solar mobile phone charger for phone and mobile devices
Cards and books for evening entertainment