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Tramping Around Southland: Packing For Your Trip

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If you're like us, you'll have spent the last few weeks dreaming of your next big adventure. Regardless of the length or location of your tramping trip, there are a few essential items that you'll need on your packing list to make your time in the bush safe and enjoyable.

What should I pack for a day walk?

If it’s a day walk you’re planning, a day pack or backpack will do the trick. It’s a good idea to use a waterproof liner, or large plastic bag to ensure your important gear stays dry even if your pack gets wet.

In your bag you’ll want to have lunch and snacks to keep you going, and a little extra just in case. Include something high in energy like muesli bars or trail mix. And don’t forget your water bottle! It’s important to stay hydrated. The amount you’ll need varies for each person, but it could mean drinking up to 500ml every hour. It’s best to come prepared with enough water for your trip. Don’t assume drinkable water will be easy to find.

The weather in Southland can change quickly, so you should be prepared with suitable clothing. Cotton and denim are off the list. Instead opt for wool, polypropylene, fleece, or wicking fabrics. Thermal tops and bottoms are a great base layer, which will still provide warmth when wet. You can wear quick drying shorts over top, and a woollen jersey or fleece depending on the weather. You’ll also need a warm, wind- and water-proof jacket that is easily accessible from your bag, and waterproof pants as an optional extra. Make sure you bring a warm beanie, gloves, sunhat and sunglasses. Depending on the terrain, you might require tramping boots, but for some beginner day walks gym shoes will be adequate. And throw in a spare pair of wool or polyprop socks too. There’s nothing worse than wet feet!

Many of Southland’s walks are also home to sandflies and mosquitos. Long sleeves will help, or you can try to ward them off with insect repellent. In your pack you’ll also need to bring any personal medication such as antihistamine or asthma medication, sunscreen, toilet paper and a basic first aid kit. This first aid kit should, at a minimum, include a range of plasters (particularly if you’re prone to blisters), antiseptic cream, scissors, wet wipes, hand sanitiser, paracetamol and a large strapping bandage.

Be ready for anything.

Being prepared if things don’t go to plan is key. It’s important to have a map of the area you’ll be walking and a compass to navigate. Bring your fully charged mobile phone, and if you’re heading out of cell reception you might want to consider another form of communication such as a two-way radio. If your walk takes longer than expected you’ll need a head lamp or torch with spare batteries. A survival blanket is also handy if there’s an emergency or you end up out overnight.

A Personal Locator Beacon is a worthwhile addition to your packing list. These are becoming more affordable and many places, including Adventure Southland, have PLB’s available for hire. There should be at least one per group, and it’s usually best to carry it on your person rather than in your pack.

Packing for overnight or multi-day walks.

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For a multi-day trip there are a few additional items you’ll need to bring. Your pack will need to be large enough for carrying the extra gear, but still comfortable. Southern Adventure have a great range of packs available and their friendly staff can help you find the pack that fits right and suits your needs.

You should pack enough suitable clothing for the trip. This might mean a few changes of thermals, a spare jersey and pair of shorts or pants. Remember, cotton and denim stay at home. You should end up with a full set of clothes to walk in, and a warm and dry set for camp. It’s nice to have a spare pair of lightweight shoes to wear around camp too. This may be the only place it’s acceptable to wear crocs!

Depending on the terrain, you might require tramping boots and gaiters. Boots provide warmth and additional ankle support. They aren’t essential but can be beneficial on uneven ground or with a heavy load.  And the gaiters will help keep you dry. There’s nothing worse than wet feet!

When deciding what to eat on your trip, weight is often big consideration. Snacks that are high in energy like muesli bars and trail mix are a must, and we love taking cheese, crackers and salami for lunch. It’s easy to carry and provides plenty of fuel for the afternoon. For dinner, you can’t go past freeze-dried food. We’re big fans of Back Country Cuisine. They have a great range of dishes to suit all tastes and most dietary requirements. Their meals are super lightweight, easy to prepare, and delicious. Make sure you check out their desserts too!

How to organise your pack.

When packing, keep items you will need to easily access near the top or in the side pockets of your pack. This includes your jacket, hat and gloves, drink bottle, snacks etc. Start by packing in the bigger items, such as a tent. Your sleeping bag will make a good base and can even be crammed in to fill small spaces. Spare clothing, food, crockery and cooking equipment can fill in the middle. Packing cells can make it easier to ensure things like clothing and cooking gear stays together. Try using different colours to differentiate gear so it’s easier to locate in your pack. Many packs have straps at the bottom for your bedroll, and you can strap walking poles to the sides.  Once loaded, you’ll need to make sure that your pack sits comfortably, and the weight is evenly distributed. It should to be balanced side to side, with the heaviest items, e.g. your tent, closest to your back.


Now you’ve got all the right gear, go out with confidence and explore all that Southland has to offer. The more adventures you have, the more you’ll figure out exactly what works for you, and just how many pairs of socks to bring!

If you’re keen to find out more about tramping around
Southland, brush up on bush skills, or book an instructor
for your next adventure, get in touch today!

03 235 7191 // info@adventuresouthland.co.nz