Over the last wee while I’ve been doing some sweet MTB adventures. It’s great to be able to ride from home and hit the trails!
Last year I rode down to Waimangaroa, up to the Denniston Plateau, across the Mackley to the Old Ghost Road and then back home. The whole trip was about 150 km and did it over 3 days and 2 nights. My friend who was with me was a beginner, and had too much gear which affected his ability to move comfortably. He decided to not ride the OGR which was a shame, but this made me want to write about packing!
The Heaphy Track is also a frequent one for us. Over the winter months we ride from Kohaihai, on the west coast across to Brown hut on the Golden Bay side. We usually over-night in Golden Bay then ride back: 4 days riding, and 3 nights in huts. Our last trip was stellar, with perfect sunny clear conditions, mint track and bird life galore including whio, takahe, kea, weka and 1 KIWI!!
Our friend who was with us was quite impressed with my packing and said I had it down to a science 🙂 Of course my only mistake was I was carrying everything on my back because I’d lent my lighter gear to a girlfriend. I knew this would not be ideal, but I was prepared and able to handle the bulky and awkward load. Of course anyone we encountered on the track was quick to point it out, “my, what a big pack you have!”. To which I would reply, “Good thing I am Powergirl!”
It’s best to use front and back carriers to spread out the load, and minimise what you have to put on your back.
The first rule is to only pack what you’re prepared and physically able to carry. This is where a healthy dose of self-awareness is key to understand your limits, realistic speed you can travel, and balancing this comfort, enjoyment and saving weight. It is risky to go ultra-light in case something goes wrong and you get caught out and don’t have enough warm clothes or food. This can put you in a dangerous situation for example, if a river crossing is too high or weather packs in and you have to wait it out. Do you have enough gear and food to weather the storm? Of course always check the weather to mitigate the risk of dealing with this, but in NZ the weather is variable and can change quickly, so pack accordingly.
One of the biggest factors that can get over-looked is fitness level. The fitter you are, the safer you will be because you can 1) move faster 2) have less overall fatigue which can cause bad decision making 3) be more mindful of surroundings which makes the experience more enjoyable 4) ability to carry more gear which can miminise the risk of being under-prepared, and 5) be strong enough to help someone else who might be in trouble.
Here is a list of things you should carry at the very least for a 2 day/1 night trip:
- Set of clothes for riding (or tramping):
- short and long sleeve thermal/merino tops
- shorts and tights
- long-fingered winter gloves
- thermal/merino socks
- Sleeping bag
- 1 long sleeve thermal top
- 1 fleece top
- 1 pair of warm thermal tights or fleece pants
- Rain jacket
- Down jacket
- Warm beanie, gloves and warm long socks
- First-aid kit
- Head torch
- 6 Em’s Power Cookies 80g (3 per day)
- 1 evening meal (I’ve done everything from instant noodles to full deluxe real-food – it just depends what you like, and how much you’re prepared to carry!)
- 1 breakfast meal such as muesli and dried fruit (personally I just eat Em’s for brekkie)
- Scroggin and/or cheese/crackers/olives for snack-stops
- Coffee and/or tea
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Cup, bowl, spork, knife
- Water bottle
- Stove, gas and pot if staying in facility without cookers
- Small wash cloth, eco-soap and paper towels
- Zip-lock bag for the toiletries
- Rubbish bag
If you’re going for 2-3+ nights, you can get away with the same amount of clothes as long as you’re happy recycling what you wear. If you hang your riding clothes to dry overnight, and have a little bird-bath each morning (as cold as it is!) you can stay surprisingly fresh for a few days!
- Keep your riding/tramping clothes separate from your set of dry hut clothes
- Carrying a small wash cloth, eco-soap and paper towels for that stay-fresh back country feel
- Candles always come on handy
- Use a rubbish bag to line packs for wet weather, and/or keep everything in dry bags. Personally I find the bag liner to work really well and it’s lightweight
- If you like to have a drink at the huts, I recommend Garage Project beer in cans, they do really good IPAs. You can also buy wine in cans and it is surprisingly good! A girlfriend who is a chef put me onto this, as well as espresso martinis! Whisky is always a good option in a little flask
- Always carry all your rubbish out with you. Tins and plastic do not belong in hut fires