Kiwi Camping Essentials, An International Students Guide to the Things you Must Take on a Trip into NZ's Outdoors

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Please note, you will need to purchase either a decent sized tramping pack (50-60L) or a day-pack (10-20L) to fully enjoy an overnight or multi-day trip in New Zealand. When heading into the outdoors always make sure to check the weather forecast and take the right gear.

1. Lighting:
The main thing you will need is a torch – preferably a headtorch, flashlight or lantern (and spare batteries). We recommend that your light have a brightness of 100-300 lumens and a battery life of over 5-20 hours. The torch will need to be bright enough to make food, walk at night without accident and have a lower setting so you can move around without blinding other campers indoors. Make sure to take spare batteries and pack at least two torches as you don’t want to be stuck in the dark without a light!

2. Shelter:

If there are no huts or other places to stay in when you go on your tramp, you will need a tent. Buying a tent that is easy to put up/take down, spacious and waterproof is crucial, so make sure you pick the right one for your trip! Each time you pack your tent, make sure you have all the bits in the bag (including the tent, poles, ropes, pegs and a fly to keep the water off) as you don’t want to realise you’ve forgotten something essential when you get to the campsite. You can also take a hammer/mallet to put the tent pegs in and take a tarpaulin for extra shelter.

3. Sleeping:
The key things that you can take are a sleeping bag and/or light duvet, pillow(s), and/or an air mattress and pump. It depends on how much room you have and how far you are travelling. If you aren’t travelling far, an air mattress, duvet and pillows will serve as you won’t need to carry them far. However, if you are going on a multiple day trip and need more room for other supplies, a sleeping bag will likely be all you can carry. You can also bring a ground sheet or sleeping roll to sleep on if you can fit it. Even a yoga-mat would be do in a pinch! Also, if you can’t carry a pillow, bring a pillow case and stuff it with your hoodie/clothes for an instant pillow!

4. Health & Safety:
Taking a First Aid Kit is recommended as you never know when you will face the inevitable cuts, bruises and insect bites. Some things that you could include in this are: medication, plasters, bandages, antiseptic cream, emergency blanket, sanitiser, ointments, saline solution and strapping tape. It is also essential that you prepare for the weather and wildlife by taking sunblock and insect repellent. We can’t stress this enough, you will need both.

5. Furniture:
If you are going to a place that doesn’t have a hut or any other furniture, you may want to bring your own. Camping chairs, a picnic blanket and a foldable camping table are all options, although this will once again depend on how far you are travelling and whether you can bring everything with you.

6. Food, Drink and Equipment:
There are many things to choose from when camping but the best suggestion is to bring easy to carry foods that will hold-up well in your pack. Dehydrated and vacuum-sealed non-perishable meals are ideal as they are both lighter than canned food and take up less space in your pack.  You want to make sure that the food you bring will replace the energy that you burn while walking and climbing during the day. You should also ensure that you have enough to last all the days you will be away (plus some emergency rations). We recommend: boil in a bag meal(s), snacks such as trail mix/scroggin and muesli bars. You will also need plenty of water and multiple drink bottles to hold the liquid (check if there are places to refill the water nearby, otherwise you may need to boil the water that you find from streams or buy a water purifying tablet). You will also need equipment to cook and eat from, we recommend: a multipurpose set of pots/pans that can also be a plate/bowl, spork, knife, sustainable plastic bin bags for your rubbish, scrubbing brush, mug, gas bottle, cooker and matches. You can also bring a cooler bag or chilly bin and ice blocks to keep things cold in summer. Also, many campsites will have some basic facilities (like sinks or BBQs) so it’s good to research before you go.

7. Mapping
Even if you are travelling on a well-marked DOC administered track, it is still advised that you take a map and compass with you to avoid getting lost during your trip. If you stray off the path its good to have an idea of the track you are walking and a reference point in-front of you to help guide you back on track.
We cannot recommend having a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) enough and it almost deserves its own category because these save lives when individuals or groups get lost or injured in the backcountry. A PLB is a GPS locator that can be activated if you, or one of your group, need rescue. These can be purchased (or even rented for as little as $10 a day) online or from an outdoor store across the country. It is recommended you carry this somewhere that is within easy reach on your body should you get into an accident and activate it in the day if possible as this makes it easier for search and rescue teams to coordinate your position. If you don’t have a PLB but are carrying a cell phone and find yourself in a life-threatening situation, please dial 111 (however, there is often not cell phone coverage in the dense bush).

8. Clothing:
It is essential that you take and wear proper clothing for the conditions when you go on a camping trip. Warm jumper, gloves, wet weather gear (jacket, pants), sneakers, swimming togs, beanie, sunhat, sunglasses, gumboots, jandals and a towel.

When dressing for the outdoors, layering correctly is important, you can think of layers using the guide below:

  1. Inner-layer clothing: Thermals.
  2. Mid-layer clothing: Long pants, long sleeve shirts, shorts, t-shirts.
  3. Insulation-layer: Shirts, pants, vests, jackets.
  4. Outer-layer: Tops and bottoms.

Materials are also important:

  • Cotton is comfortable but quickly absorbs moisture and is slow to dry.
  • Polypropylene is a great thermal layer that wicks away sweat and is very breathable while insulating and fast-drying, but it can also retain odours.
  • Capilene is a material that is like polypropylene, however these comfortable, lightweight clothes have been treated so that moisture (i.e. sweat or rain) evaporates quickly
  • Nylon is soft, lightweight, durable and non-absorbent, ideal for mid-layer.
  • Wool is great in colder weather, especially for insulation.
  • Gore-Tex is the best material for outerwear such as jackets and pants, as Gore-Tex is waterproof, breathable and wind-resistant. 

When choosing the right clothes for camping you should also keep in mind the number of pockets for storing gear, vents for breathability if you will be walking long distances, the presence/absence of a hood, sealed seams and whether the garment can be adjusted depending on weather conditions should all factor into your choice of purchase/packing.

9. Toiletries:
Once again, these will depend on your access to showers on your trip. If you are going way out into the bush, chances are you won’t need shampoo and bodywash, compared to if you were staying at a campsite or if you decided to bring your own solar shower. However, toothpaste, toothbrush, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, tissues and deodorant should all be part of your packing.

10. Entertainment/Other:
For the extra things in your life, you may want to have a dry-bag to store them in. These could include entertainment like playing cards, iPhone and books. However, you may also want to bring other useful items, like clothesline, bungee cords, a multi-tool and duct tape. These may come in handy on the trip but aren’t exactly necessary in a usual trip to the outdoors.

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