Ecologist and experienced long-distance bushwalker Dr Kate Grarock shows us the contents of her rucksack.
Altra Lone Peak 4.5 Mens trail running shoes Some of the best advice I’ve read is: “a pound on the foot is worth five on the back”. I whole-heartedly agree with this and have ditched the expensive and heavy hiking boots for trail runners. I can walk further, more efficiently and feel much more agile. I’ll never go back. I have hiked over 2000km in trail runners, on tracks like the Larapinta and offtrack in the Budawangs in winter. I believe shedding pack weight is more helpful for looking after ankle problems. I love Altras as I have wide feet and they give my toes space to move. Trail runners also dry faster if you get them wet.
Injinji Sport Original Weight Mini-Crew Socks I’d hike barefoot if I could, but these are the next best thing. They allow natural toe movement in my shoe, which helps me have better grip and balance while hiking. I love pairing them with my wide foot Altra shoes. I feel more connected to the land I'm walking on. I've also never had a blister when using these with Altras.
Helinox Deuce of Spades Ultralight Toilet Trowel The who’s who of number twos in the bush has got to be Deuce of Spades. I’m a huge fan of leaving no trace. So I always promote people carrying a trowel and burying their toilet waste 15cm deep so it will decompose naturally. This reduces the environmental impact and leaves the area looking beautiful. At only 17 grams, there is no excuse not to take one. I like to turn the trowel around and use the handle to cut into really hardy soil.
Ocean Signal RescueME PLB I never leave home without this in my pack, whether it's a multiday solo adventure in the Ettrema wilderness or a day hike with friends. A Personal Locator Beacon is an absolute essential for anyone who loves going outdoors. Your details and trip plan can be easily updated online to help emergency services locate you quickly in an emergency. Beacons like the Ocean Signal are great because they don’t require an ongoing subscription fee.
Thermarest Neoair XLite Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad I love this mattress. With an R value of 4.2, I can use it all-year round; even hiking in winter around Canberra. I have been happy sleeping on it down to about minus 7 degrees. This mat is only 340gm and is a massive 6.4cm thick – making it ultralight as well as super comfortable.
Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow This is a bit of a hiking luxury, but I love a good hiking pillow and I think it's worth every gram. Having a good pillow has really improved my comfort, enjoyment and recovery, especially while on longer hiking trails. I love the soft exterior and it really helps me get a great night's sleep. I’ve tried using alternatives like my down jacket balled up, but for me nothing beats a good hiking pillow.
Thermarest Z-Seat Extra Warm Lemon a.k.a ‘arse pad’ I call these arse pads. Perhaps another hiking luxury, I have only recently become a fan of them. They are the ultimate multi-use item; besides keeping my bum dry, warm and comfortable, I use it as a mat for placing gear when unpacking my pack, a doormat for my tent, a wind shield when cooking, and an emergency arm brace if someone hurts themselves.
Sea To Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Sack, Small This simple little bag makes a big difference to hiking logistics. In the morning when breaking camp; my down jacket, sleeping bag, air mat and dry camp clothes get thrown in it and compressed. This saves me significant pack-up time and space in my pack, while also providing extra protection for these critical items.
Sawyer Point One Squeeze Water Filtration System Gravity filters, or squeeze filters, are great for treating water quickly while out on the trail. These devices don’t require batteries, so I can keep treating water for multiple weeks on end with the one filter. I always carry 2-3 pouches and clearly mark them as ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ water, so I never mix them up. The Sawyer is a light, quick, chemical free and a relatively cheap option that I always take on solo hikes. The Sawyer filter removes bacteria, protozoa, E. Coli, giardia, vibrio cholerea, Salmonella typhi, and microplastics.
Weight: 140gm (filter and 2 bags)
Black Diamond - Distance Carbon FLZ Trekking Poles I’m a recent convert to hiking poles and I am loving them, especially on long distance hikes. They transfer some of the load from your legs to your upper body, helping me hike further and feel fresher each day. I like the rhythm I get from using my arms more while hiking with poles. They have also saved me from several significant accidents when I have used them to catch myself from falling. Poles can also be used to pitch tarps or as tent poles on certain tents, making them an excellent multi-use item.
Words and photos_ Dr Kate Grarock