Gearing Up and Packing Out
55+ litre pack with comfortable harness
waterproof pack liner
3 season sleeping bag
foam sleeping pad
3 season waterproof tent
hooded waterproof jacket
wool hiking socks
quality hiking boots
fleece tops/quick-dry tops
first aid kit
fuel stove and fuel
pop-top canned tuna, baked beans
trail mix (dried fruit, nuts, chocolate)
A Note on Gear:
Be smart; invest in the top quality for certain things, but don’t spend ridiculous amounts on the overpriced little “extras” in outdoor stores. You can usually substitute with something cheaper and just as substantial. It is very important to have a sturdy pack with a comfortable harness. You and the pack will become one on the track. You might even give it a name and talk to it, like I did! (The perils of the lone walker!) Matilda is a Lowe Alpine pack with a harness especially formulated for women, which I found the most comfortable.
You should also buy a high quality, warm sleeping bag that can be compacted. You should make the investment in a sturdy, weatherproof, lightweight tent. It is tempting to buy a cheap, but nice looking tent, as there are many on the market, but these will leave you wet and cold on the track. You don’t have to buy the most expensive one you can find either, because this doesn’t always mean it’s the best. When shopping for your gear, consult a knowledgeable employee. If you’re shopping in an outdoors store in Australia, don’t be surprised if that employee has walked the Overland themselves. A great chance for insider info!
You want to keep your feet happy, so make sure you have good quality boots and wool socks to keep you blister free. Never start out on a hike with brand new boots. Make sure you break them in before you go. The same goes for the pack and tent; try it out and set it up before you go if it is brand new equipment. Lastly, you should have a decent waterproof jacket and pants, and it doesn’t hurt to have a few light tops of quick-drying material.
Now for a few hints so that you actually have enough to get to Tasmania after you buy all the equipment! To waterproof your pack, you can line the inside with a survival bag (a thick, plastic fluorescent orange bag), but a heavy duty garbage bag would probably work just as well. Although a headlamp is convenient, you can get away with a cheap waterproof flashlight like I did; just make sure to bring extra batteries. I think the most unnecessary item most bring is a fuel stove. It just takes up space and is more of a bother than anything else. It is possible to survive completely on cold, dry food for a week; just make sure you don’t carry too many cans! I always chuckled at those fumbling to prepare some gourmet camper’s treat while I dined on cold beans, peanut butter or a tuna sandwich. When you walk all day, anything tastes good, so for me it’s really not about flavor or variety, it’s just about fueling up. I understand however, that some must have their caffeine fix, and I will admit that after a particular long, cold, and wet day outdoors the smell of hot cocoa almost made me cry!
As important as it is to be prepared and bring everything you think you will need, don’t overpack or you will be sorely miserable two steps into the journey. Your pack should be about one-third to one-fifth of your body weight to be carried comfortably; depending on your level of fitness.