Trek and Travel's Jemima Headlam shows us what she carried in her pack on the beautiful Larapinta Trail.
Arguably one of Australia’s best winter hikes to undertake is the mighty Larapinta Trail – especially for anyone averse to snow, rain and icy cold winds. The trail takes you 223km across the West Macdonnell Ranges to experience all of the harshness, peace and solitude of the desert. Winter is the best time to visit the region; the skies are clear blue, the day temperatures hover around 20C°+ during the day but dip close to zero at night.
While it is possible to hike in either direction I’m biased when I say that from Alice to Redbank is the best direction to head in, as after all, this was the way the track was originally designed. Bushwalkers can take their time on the trail with most taking anywhere between 9 days to 21 days, depending on personal preference, ego, vigour and expectation. I opted for a leisurely 17 days.
Here are some my favourite products I took on the trail.
Aarn Featherlight pack – I’ve been a convert to Aarn packs after walking 900km of the Camino years ago. This pack is lightweight and has an ingenious and completely unique balance system. By putting some of the weight into the front pockets rather than everything on my back the total weight is distributed more evenly, resulting in a better posture to hike. The shoulder straps are attached to the pack with an independent pivot point in the middle of the back, rather than having each strap attached to each side. This results in much more freedom of movement through the shoulders and takes pressure off my neck.
One Planet Goondie 2 mesh tent – You can set up the mesh walls, with or without the fly, for a clear night with little possibility of rain. I could sleep most nights with the fly off and watch the stars. The 75D nylon base meant no need for a ground sheet and the whole tent is free-standing so I could move it about if I found a better spot. I confidently set this up on any surface (apart from directly on spinifex, obviously!) and it was great for camping out on the sandy dried-up river beds and on the hard rock lookouts.
Sea to Summit Aeros ultralight pillow – At only 68gm there’s really no good excuse not to take it. Gone are the days of shoving dirty clothes in a stuff sac and cursing in the morning over a stiff neck. Soft surface fabric for sweet not sweaty dreams and a clever value that lets you adjust the air to get the perfect amount of pressure.
Sea to Summit Ether Light XT insulated mat – It's official, the sleeping mat game has changed forever with the Ether Light XT. Packed up, it’s no bigger than a 1L Nalgene bottle and weighs in at 490gm. When inflated it’s a h-e-a-v-e-n-l-y 10cm of luxury. I never knew sleep on the trail could be so good. Certainly a little quieter than the old sleeping mats from Sea To Summit. I’ve never been happier to crawl into bed. With it being so thick the rock hard cold ground of the Larapinta is no match for it.
One Planet Bungle -4°C sleeping bag – One Planet really knows how to make gear and make it last. I’ve had my -4°C Bungle for 12 years and it’s still going strong. You’d be forgiven for thinking that a -4°C might be overkill, but in those desert nights the temperatures often dip below zero, especially around 4.30am in those last few hours before the sun comes up. Brrrrr. Second best use, apart from sleeping in it, was waking up early to watch the sunrise from the top of a lookout, finding a perfect sitting stone and all wrapped up in my One Planet sleeping bag with a fresh cuppa protected against the bitter wind, watching that rich orange ribbon appear across the pre-dawn horizon. Perfect!