I hiked the Te Araroa NOBO in the season of ’15/’16 and in 2017 I also hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. On these two long distance trails I tried out a lot of different gear and also learned a lot. When I started in New Zealand I was completely over-packed! I had a 75l backpack and carried about 16kg of base weight! Only after three weeks I had the first big “roll-over” where I changed my tent, shoes, backpack and also ditched a lot of stuff.

Changing and reducing gear has almost been a sport since then. Looking back now on how carefully I changed and decided not to carry the one or other extra I almost can’t believe how much I voluntarily carried ūüėā

But I also have to admit that without going through the process myself I would probably not be as convinced of my setup now. I also would have felt uncomfortable with some of the stuff I am doing now (not taking) without the first hand experience. Based on the knowledge I have now and also the confidence in my own capabilities eg. with cold, wet, dry and injuries I still feel safe with the minimal equipment.


What to pack?

Pointing it out again – everybody has a different comfort zone! So there is no right or wrong.¬†You should never risk your health or even life by under packing and not being prepared!¬†If you don’t feel comfortable take whatever makes you comfortable! You can still throw stuff out on the next re-supply stop but you can’t “get it” in the middle of nowhere if you need and don’t have it with you.

In general I do recommend the same stuff I carried on the PCT at the very end. The two trails have a lot in common so also the same gear works fine. So the base with all the detailed explanation is my “Final PCT Gear List” – check it out if you need detailed info to the single sections and items.

One of the major differences between the PCT and the Te Araroa: there is a lot more water involved on the TA! From both sides – above and below. You have more river crossings and many more rain days. Also the Kiwi forest – called bush – stores a lot of water and since the trail is very often overgrown you will have to brush through soaking wet ferns and other vegetation. Therefore the rain gear is more important than on the PCT. I highly recommend a rain skirt for this. It will most likely be to warm for rain pants but the rain skirt is perfect for the TA. It prevents your shorts from getting wet and cold since they also don’t dry quickly in the wet forest. I would also recommend a stronger rain jacket than on the PCT since you will go through much rougher terrain – a lot of thorn-bushes, scrubs and more. The very thin ones will most likely not survive for long. Or you’ll have to replace them along the way.

Sleeping bag: You can definitely go with a lighter one. Since you are able to spend most nights on the South Island in the backcountry huts you will always be warmer. A +6C comfort temperature sleeping bag was more than enough.

Also the Sawyer Mini will do instead of the Squeeze since you won’t really need it.

The entire gear list in a quick overview:

(Some links in the table are affiliate links)
Item
Product
Weight
The hiking outfit
T-shirt
130g
Shorts
130g
Socks
40g
Shoes
650g
Gaiters
34g
Sun protection
100g
Trekking poles
600g
Watch
64g
1.748g
The big three
Backpack
811g
Pouch for backpack
14g
Tent
439g
Stakes
MSR Ground Hog Mini tent stakes (8)
80g
Sleeping bag
595g
Waterproof stuff sack
25g
Sleeping pad
356g
2.320g
Cooking
Cooking pot
Trangia Pot incl. handle
142g
Stove
83g
Fire
Lighter
10g
Spoon
10g
Water filter
56g
Water container
40g
Water Bottle
Powerade
50g
Food bag
50g
441g
Cloth
Rain jacket
180g
Rain skirt
54g
Rain pants
180g
Down jacket
360g
Jumper
376g
Beanie
32g
Neck gaiter
40g
Gloves
40g
Socks
40g
Stuff sack
55g
1.357g
Medics & Hygienics 
Teeth
Half tooth brush
7g
Teeth
Tooth paste
24g
Contact lenses
Case, solution, extra pair
80g
Eye
Eye infection creme
3g
Nails
Standard small nail clipper
21g
Beard
Comb
6g
Toilet paper
Amount depends on days.
30g
Pain killer
Ibuprofen
15g
Diaria
Imodium
4g
Disinfection
4 alcohol pads
1g
Tape
30g
Antihistamine
6 capsules
7g
Sunscreen
30ml
34g
262g
Repair kit
Tape
Ductape wrapped around trekking pole
Fixation
6 cable ties
6g
Knife
28g
Repair gear
1m Dyneema Composite Fabric
60g
Repair gear
Special tape for air mattress
10g
Repair gear
Tenacious tape
15g
Repair gear
Super glue
15g
Stuff sack
15g
154g
Electronics
Charger
USB with double port & iPhone cable
66g
Battery pack
135g
Phone & navigation
iPhone 6S
145g
Waterproof case
35g
Headlamp
55g
Battery
2 spare batteries for headlamp
22g
Wallet
7g
Stuff sack
20g
485g
Camera
Camera
Olympus OMD EM1 II (incl. battery & SD)
390g
Lense
M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-150mm 1:4.0-5.6 II
285g
Battery
2 extra Olympus batteries
90g
Memory card
2x SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB
40g
Camera clip
Peak Design Pro clip
140g
Camera rain cover
Peak Design rain cover
113g
Charger
Olympus charger & cable
115g
1.173g
Additional Gear
Pee-bottle
Gatorade 1l bottle
50g
50g
Total base weight
5.069g
Total base weight incl. camera
6.242g
Weight on the hiker
1.748g

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As summarised earlier for the PCT already:

Backpack:

Most important with a backpack is that it fits your back. They all have different harnesses and fit different backs. So make sure to try many. The other features are less important. If you carry heavier loads >15kg you want to have a good hip belt or otherwise you will have bruises on your hips and it’s uncomfortable on longer hikes.

My backpack of choice is now the¬†Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest. It’s specially designed for ultra-light hikers with a 40l volume and only weighs 811g (in comparison my Osprey 50l bag weighs about 1,8kg!) and it is waterproof in itself. It helps you only taking the things you really need since there is not a lot of space ūüėČ. As a reference my bag is maybe half full with all my gear. The rest is “reserved” for food and I usually fit 5 days in it easily. I¬†would not recommend it with a permanent weight over 15kg, but if you exceed it in the first days of a long hike because of food it should be ok since you will get lighter every day.

I also have a Zpacks Backpack Shoulder Pouch on one of my shoulder straps for my phone, ND filter and snacks.

P7180915.jpg

Tent:

The Zpacks Solplex¬†is my choice. It is made out of¬†Dyneema Composite Fabric (also known as Cuban Fibre) which is highly durable and super lightweight with 439g only! Including 8 stakes with 60g the total weight of the tent comes down to 499g. Comfort, space and durability are amazing. Keep your vestibules open for ventilation since in a single wall tent you do get condensation very quickly. It’s not cheap with 555US$ but it’s well worth every cent if you sleep in it every day.

P6051814.jpg

Sleeping bag & sleeping pad:

The lightest and smallest version is always down. The higher the number of the filling (e.g. 850) the better the quality of the down and therefore the less you need for the same insulation. As mentioned above I would go with the Western Mountaineering Summerlite sleeping bag which is rated for +6C comfort and a max of 0C. I only had a 3 or 4 cold nights below freezing and used used my rain jacket and my backpack as a sack wrapped around my feet for extra insulation in cold nights Рjust make use of whatever you have if you need it.

Due to packing size I opted for an inflatable sleeping mattress. I am not a fan of the bulky foam pads which you always have to attach to the outside dangling around. The Sea to Summit UltraLight Mat is my choice since it is light and through the air chamber also gives the best possible insulation from the ground.

Sleeping mattress, liner & sleeping bag in waterproof pack-sack

Cooking:

Some people go without a stove and only eat cold or dry stuff. Apparently it works but I wouldn’t want to go without one proper meal per day. So I carry a very small and light weight (83g) gas stove from Optimus Crux and a small gas canister. For cooking I have a 1.5l Trangia hardanodized ultralight aluminium cooking pot, the aluminum handle and Sea to Summit plastic spoon.

My main water container is a cheap 1l Powerade plastic bottle – it does the job perfectly, is way lighter than the “proper” ones, the outflow of the Powerade bottle has the perfect size so that you can drink while walking (better than the Powerade one), you can replace it once in a while if it gets to nasty and it costs almost nothing! As a water filtration system you can go with the lighter Sawyer Mini instead of the Sawyer Squeeze. I only filtered my water 4 or 5 times on the entire trail. Since there is water everywhere in New Zealand and you rarely have two hours without a water source you can either carry a 2l Platypus or get an additional thin water bottle for the few occasions where you will need it.

I also have two stuff sacks (10l and 15l) for my food. It helps to easier squish the food into the backpack and I always separate breakfast & dinner from snacks. By doing that I can bury the breakfast & dinner bag in my pack and only have to take to bag with the snacks out during the day

(What I don’t carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: camel bag, water bottle)

Clothes:

I try to carry as little as I can. Therefore I don’t take anything which can’t be used on top of each other for the worst case scenario. Don’t over pack – yes, you will be smelly and a bit sticky. But everybody is out there. You’ll get used to it. Not showering for ten days sounds really bad at the beginning but it’s actually not. And once in a while there is also a river to jump in if you are desperate ūüėČ

I usually hike in a Icebreaker merino wool t-shirt, my beloved red/pink swimming pants, short Icebreaker merino socks and my favorite Salomon Speedcross4 trail runners. To protect my socks and shoes from the insight I use very small Outdoor Research Sparkplug gaiters. As sun protection I have my new and cool Prana hipster cap ūüėé.

Rain gear: Outdoor Research Helium II rain jacket & Vaude Drop Pants II rain pants –¬†for heavy conditions and when temperatures drop below 0C with rain and wind. And the above mentioned rain skirt Zpacks Rain Kilt. I would personally make it shorter and keep it over your knees for better movability.
My Patagonia Nano Puff jacket with Prima Loft Gold is the piece which keeps me warm in camp or breaks – very small and very warm. I find Prima Loft better on long distance hikes since it even warmth you if it’s wet, it dries quickly and you can easily wash it – different to down.
One Icebreaker Descender Long Sleeve merino wool jumper – early in the morning or later in the day on cold and windy days I like to wear this one. Primaloft or down is to warm to walk in.
For the really cold days I carry a thin Icebreaker merino beanie, a Buff (neck gaiter) and a pair of Icebreaker Sierra gloves.
Since my swim shorts have a mesh inside I don’t wear underwear. It also helps for better ventilation, less sweating and rubbing. So I only carry one pair of merino underwear to sleep in.
The only extras I carried were one Icebreaker merino t-shirt which is not really necessary – but it is nice sometimes e.g. in towns after a shower when waiting for the laundry to be done. But you don’t need it. If its wet I either try to keep in on and dry it with body heat or I take it off and wear my jumper. It sucks in the morning to put it on again but after 20 minutes of exercising it’s usually dry. In Oregon I changed one Icebreaker t-shirt for a long sleeve shirt because of the mosquitos and kept it to the end. I also have one¬†pair of extra socks in case a sock breaks down. This usually happens quickly. I went through a pair in 3-4 weeks. Your feet are the most important part on this journey – you do want to do anything possible to prevent blisters and/or injuries!¬†Other than that you only need one pair. Why? How many can you wear? Exactly. If they smell you wash them in a break. If they are wet? Then you walk in wet socks. If it rains on consecutive days even dry socks are wet after 20 minutes so there is no sense in putting dry ones on to into your wet shoes…

(What I don’t carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: hat, rain skirt, thermal pants, towel)

Left: my “carry-on”, Right: my outfit

Medics and Hygienics

How to go light: Try to buy the smaller sizes. No need to carry 200ml of something that will last for 2 month. Resupply more often. I have seen people carrying regular bottles of everything ending up with 3-4kg of liquids ūüôą

My daily hygienics consisted out of a small and cut off tooth brush + toothpaste, contact lenses and cleansing fluid (extra pair and a few daily lenses in case of an eye infection), nail clipper, comb¬†for my beard – therefore no razor¬†ūüėā¬†and an amount of¬†toilet paper suitable for the days – don’t carry an entire roll!

In case shit happens. How much can you do in the wilderness? If it’s a minor thing you usually don’t really have to do anything and if it’s a big thing (broken bones, etc.) you can’t heal yourself anyways. So the only thing you have to do is get out and get help. So I am not a big fan of carrying a lot of stuff. For the heavy stuff I rely on painkillers¬†(Ibuprofen), the cable ties and ductape.

I also carry Imodium for diaria (how many do you need? Not the entire pack for sure, just enough to get you out in case it hits you), a cream for eye infection which happens quickly with contact lenses, a couple disinfection/alcohol tissues (also work great if you have to clean camera lenses or surfaces before you repair / glue them). And a few Antihistamine pills after my shocking 25 sting-wasp-experience.

For the smaller issues and especially my feet I have a small roll of plaster tape (Mefix) which is a sticky plaster to seal open wounds and a¬†2m strip of Leuko Surgical Tape wrapped around a solid plastic tube: it’s the only tape which really works. The adhesive is incredible and even stays on feet for days when they get wet. Don’t try anything else!

Last but not least a 30ml sunscreen tube and a Ziploc bag to store everything.

(What I don’t carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: Voltaren, Aspirin, hand sanitizer, bio degradable washing lotion, ear plugs)

Repair kit

Minimal as well. Tape and cable ties will fix most problems temporarily or even long term. For the electronics I only carry my iPhone for backup navigation (bad weather, emergency situations) and to write the blog.

Sufficient amount of ductape wrapped around my trekking poles so I don’t have to carry it in the backpack fixes everything: equipment and also small injuries.
An Opinel Knife No. 6, a stripe of special waterproof repair tape for tents, rain jackets and repair kit for my air mattress, 6 cable ties, super glue, a spare lighter, a 10m MSR Ultralight Utility Cord (cloth line, rope to hang food and possible repair kit) and 2 small carabiners to hang food. On top I carried 4 one gallon Ziploc bags as emergency and rain gloves and socks and a small stuff sack to store everything.

Electronics

USB¬†charger with double port, my¬†iPhone in a waterproof Lifeproof Case¬†– also my fall back navigation and emergency (if I have reception) device, a¬†Goal Zero Flip 20 Powerbank for two charges.¬†A Black Diamond Ion headlamp for hikes during night time and everything else when it’s dark. And I have a small¬†Zpacks Wallet Zip Pouch for credit cards &, ID and all of it goes into a¬†3l Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack.

(What I don’t carry anymore different to before the trail and on the picture: compass & maps which you won’t need for the PCT,

The only luxury equipment Рmy camera

Photography is one of my passions. So I can’t go without a proper camera. I tried to find a compromise between a full DSLR camera which is to bulky and heavy and a smaller one which will still give me a very high quality. For the last 2 years I have used my Olympus OMD EM10II with a micro four thirds sensor and the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14‚Äď150mm 1:4.0‚Äď5.6 II lense. It only weighs 1018g including the lense, battery and memory card which is significantly less than a comparable SLR.

On top I have 2 spare battery, 2 SD memory cards, cleaning wipes, a grey filter and the camera battery charger.

And I also finally found a way to attach my camera to my backpack so that I can always use it without taking my backpack off or it dangling around and being annoying. The Peak Design clip straps the camera to your shoulder belt. It’s fixed, secured and you still have easy access to it. And after two years of heavy usage I can only highly recommend this thing including the shell to protect your camera from dust and rain. If you take the extra weight of a good camera with you this clip is a must item – if you have your camera in your pack you’ll never use it and just carry dead weight around!¬†Peak Design Pro clip for the backpack &¬†Peak Design Shell¬†for protection. Use the link to get a free gift ūüėČ

PS: Unfortunately my camera went swimming 3 weeks before the end. So I had to replace it on the go. I have to admit that I used this excuse to directly upgrade to the OMD EM1 II with a 12-100 Pro Lense. It is significantly heavier (+460g) but I will also use it for non hiking purposes now. On long hikes I might try to use the old lense if I can repair it. For the packing list I include my old camera since it was the one I used.

Additional gear

Leki Khumbu hiking¬†poles which I always use. It’s said that they save you up to 30% of energy in your legs since you use your upper body which normally is not used when hiking.

Suunto Core Watch. Simple watch, altimeter and compass. I am not a fan of GPS watches since they use a lot of battery which you don’t have out there.

Additional 32oz Gatorade (big opening) pee-bottle for the night. I hate getting out of the tent at night. Probably one of my most favorite items ūüėä

 

Sweet as, brew! Let me know when there's new stuff online!