All the Gear, No Idea – Part 2 – Pack, Shoes, and Other Essentials
This is part 2 of my gear discussion – see part 1 at:
Pack. My turtle home for five to six months.
I had done a fair amount of reading online, and it seemed that most people had packs that were between 40-55L. By the time I was looking for a pack, I had most of the big stuff for my hike (tent/sleeping pad/sleeping bag/clothes). My neighbors had a 38L pack, so I put everything I had into it to test out that capacity. Thirty-eight liters seemed like a perfect size without a stove or food, so I knew I would be looking at a size of at least 45-50L for my own pack.
The stuff I had purchased for my hike was light, but not ultralight. I’m also a newbie to this long-distance backpacking caper, so I don’t want to do the hike completely bare-bones (see previous post about my pillow). This meant that I would be looking for a standard pack, rather than some of the ultralight packs going around.
Basic parameters decided, it was then off to the shops to find the best “shell” for me. I tried on about 12 packs over three different shops, all of which fit slightly differently and had slightly different features. In the end, it was down to the Deuter Aircontact Lite 45+10 and the Gregory Jade 53. Both fit well and were comfortable, and had some useful additional features.
The deciding factor was the side pockets on the Jade. I have a habit of not drinking enough water when I am hiking/running/riding. I was a bit worried that this would be compounded if I bought a pack that I could not easily get my drink bottle out of without taking off the pack. The side pockets in the Jade can be accessed from both the top and the inner side. This means it is easy to reach and remove a drink bottle while the pack is on. Maybe a strange reason to decide on a pack, but it is my reason! It is also a very pretty green color, which does not hurt either.
Shoes. My protection between my feet and 3,500km of trail.
In my only multi-day hike to date (12 days in the Swiss Alps), I wore a pair of Salomon X-Ultra GTX boots. I love these boots. I have never got a blister from them, and they have continued to be my hiking boots in the six years since that hike. However, I saw from reading online that most people use trail runners, rather than hiking boots. I also saw that non-GTX/Goretex shoes are generally preferred due to the dampness and wetness of the trail.
I ended up going for a version of my previous hiking boots, which I hope is the best of both worlds. The Salomon X-Ultra Low is a hiking shoe, so it has the ruggedness and durability of a hiking boot, but it is low profile and non-Goretex so provides more breathability. I have taken my new shoes on three hikes so far, and I’m very happy with them.
Food bag. Keeping the snacks for myself.
The main animal-related concerns when camping in Australia are venomous snakes and spiders. They might kill you, but snakes and spiders are not going to steal your food. Therefore, having to account for bear and rodent-related food-stealing is a new challenge for me.
Last summer I lived in a provincial park in Alberta (Kananaskis) and we had a young bear that used to come into the area around the three hotels there and the residence area where I lived. At the end of the season, the bear had to be put down because it had grown too accustomed to humans and human food. This was very sad for me. I therefore wanted to do what I could so that other bears would not associate me with food while also minimizing the chance of having my food eaten/stolen.
I was not confident of my ability to do a bear hang, with the specific measurements from ground, tree, and branch required. So I bought an Ursack Allmitey, which is a food bag designed to be bear and rodent-resistant (as much as possible). I also bought some Opsaks to go inside (odor reduction bags). I still plan on tying/hanging my bag, but the Ursack/Opsak gives me some peace of mind that it will, at least partially, dissuade bears and critters from my food.
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