26 Dec 2014

First Tramp of 2015

Hi fellow trampers, hikers, hill walkers - I trust you all had a 'Turkey of a day' yesterday.

I'm getting excited! The first tramp of the year begins tomorrow. We are completing the Canterbury section of the Te Araroa Trail. Starting near Arthur's Pass to and coming out on Jan 8 at Lake Tekapo.

I will try and post some pictures as we progress as I will be taking my iPhone and Suntactics solar charger. I tested this out in the Kaimanawas on the recent Labour Day W/E trip and it was fabulous.

Here's a couple of pictures of this baby that weighs in at 240g!!

12 Dec 2014

Sleeping Bag

My go to bag is the Western Highlite at 445 grams and +2 c rating (it has hood)
Over the shoulder season I use my Zpacks 20 bag (-7c). This is a true warmth to weight bag, but with no hood. I ordered it in extra length so I can pull it over my face, but wearing a beanie to bed adds warms and protection.

I love this bag!!

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20 Nov 2014

Sleeping Mat Review

Came across this sleeping mat review that will be of interest to those contemplating a new lightweight mat. I'm pleased my Neo Ultra Lite rated best with this reviewer!


16 Nov 2014

Camp Footwear

Many lightweight trampers scorn camp footwear as unnecessary weight. Personally I love getting into camp and slipping off my tramping shoes to let my feet breath.

I have experimented with a number of sandals and thongs (even a fleeting moment with Crocs). My current choice is the Bedrock Gabbro Lite at just 116gm.

In colder conditions, or for sandfly protection, I team these up with toe socks - not the 5 toe variety, but the Japanese style with two pockets (big toe and rest of toes, sort of like a mitten). I found the basic toe sock was difficult to put on when my feet are damp (like after bathing).

To see the Bedrock range go to HERE

15 Nov 2014

Some Great Food Ideas

Tracy Tate posted these food ideas from her recently completed PCT hike. It is American based, but there are some great idea for lightweight Kiwi Tramper here - Enjoy

Rambling Hemlock: Food for the PCT

15 Oct 2014

How to Hike Long Distances Each Day

I subscribe to Erik the Black's blog. He has just posted a very interesting article with itineraries on how to hike 15 miles (24ks), 25 miles (40ks) and 30 miles (48ks) at day!

Of course this begs the question, "Do you really want to do that?" Sometimes you may have to.

See Erik's itineraries here http://blackwoodspress.com/blog/20401/how-to-hike-15-to-30-miles-a-day/

I get tired reading them :-)

8 Oct 2014

Te Araroa Trail Book

Just finished Paul Garland's book on his TA Trail experience walking the length of NZ.

It's an excellent book, well written and although expensive in today's literary world I am happy to support Paul. You can checkout contents and purchase at the below website...


5 Sep 2014

New Zpacks Upgrade

I recently sent my Zpacks Arc Blast back to Joe for an upgrade. These are now standard in all current models.

As the photo shows, he now puts a bar across the top of the two stays to stop these "folding in" under load.

Also he has change the way the netting back-rest adheres to the frame. It was originally constructed as a material extension of the seam. This was rather hard to pull through the jam-locks.

As you can see from photo, these are now cord based. A vast improvement.

These improvements come from users comments and Joe's continuous field tests on long-distance hikes. This is what I like about the Zpacks brand - made by experienced lightweight hikers for both the new and seasoned lightweight aficionados.


Zpacks Sleeping Bag

It's finally arrived, my new Zpacks sleeping bag. I weighs in at 575 grams (in cuben stuff sack).

I had Joe make this in the longer length as these have no hood and with a beanie on I can also pull up above my head for extra warmth. It is stuffed with the new waterproof down and new pertex fabric cover.

There is an elastic cord to close bag around at the top,

See full details at http://www.zpacks.com/quilts/sleepingbag.shtml

The rating is -7c and from all reviews is true to rating. Labour W/E in Kaimanawa's will test this out!

My current bag, that I will still use for summer, is the Western Mountaineering HighLite - 455 grams. A great bag I have used for a few years now and rates +2c.

Joe recommends sleeping "zip under" after holding zip horizontally and shaking down so the bulk is on top of you

30 Jul 2014

Wood Burning Stoves

I am not a great fan of wood burning stoves, but have a open mind. Brian Green's great blog site features a new product in this arena. Check it out at http://briangreen.net/2014/07/tato-element-makes-wood-burning-enjoyable.html
At 128 grams it could be worth thinking about if you were constantly outdoor-cooking with guaranteed wood supply. As an emergency kitchen it has merit, but if you carry a jetboil you need to carry a pot. Then one could argue, just light an open fire and hang the pot over it.
What do you think?

Auckland Tramping Club

After a torrid few weeks of issues with service providers, the Auckland Tramping Club website is back and fully functional. Check out your next trip at http://www.aucktramping.org.nz/

7 Jul 2014

Altra "Lone Peak" Trail Runners

Back from my 4th trip in these FANTASTIC shoes. I love the comfort, the wide toe box and zero drop heel. They are taking a beating (see photos below). You can check them out at www.altrarunning.com

I was an Inov8 lover, but now an Altra convert. These are the Lonely Peak model

25 May 2014

Tarp/Tent Pegs

I have an assortment of pegs I choose each trip based on conditions. If I am going to be in exposed conditions for my overnights, on the tops and expecting high wind/rain, I will take MSR large Groundhogs. If summer, bush conditions, titanium shepards hooks.

MSR now do the groundhogs  in mini style. This allows better options at lighter weights.

I just purchase the mini Groundhogs and feel they will work well with all situations if "mixed and matched".

For my Hexamid Zpacks Solo or Twin Tarp, I will now be taking a standard set up of 6 mini Groundhogs and 2 large. The total peg weigh is 90g including the cuben fibre storage sack.

I've included a photo below - the mini groundhogs are on the left with a matchbox to give size comparison. I use the two large one for the front and rear anchor points of my Hexamid Tarp.

These pegs are $4.79 each and available from Outdoor Action - a NZ online store


24 Apr 2014

Camp Shoes - Or should I say Sandals?

A lot of ultra light guys frown on camp sandals. Personality I love getting out of my hiking shoes at days end and letting the feet breathe.

I have been using the light weight Teva sandals (172grams) but recently discovered Bedrock. I have their toe socks (to wear with thongs). These socks are good for cold weather, or if you are in bug infested country.

The Bedrock sandal were designed for "bare foot" runners. I tried them out as a camp shoes last w/e on Stewart Island. They performed great. At 95 grams I think these are a great addition to your lightweight kit.

Check them out at http://bedrocksandals.com/bedrock-earthquake-sandals-v2/

Six Moons Packs

Recently Brian Frankle (ex ULA Packs) joined with Ron Monk at Six Moons Design to create the next "revolution" in lightweight packs. Although they have created a revolution in design the weight is not world shattering. But hey, the world is full of compromises.

I like their designs. Their packs a well worth consideration. I like the Fusion 30.

You can check out the pack range at http://www.sixmoondesigns.com/packs.html

Powder Alcohol

Ever since I was a young man hiking in the hills we use to joke about how one could make millions if you invented powdered alcohol. Even as recent as last week we were joking about this on our Stewart Island Tramp. Guess what? It's happened. Just add water and stir.

A US company says its new powdered alcohol product has been approved by US regulators and is poised to hit stores in the coming months. Palcohol is made by an Arizona company called Lipsmark and will come in six varieties of single-drink pouches, the company website says.

Drinkers can stir in simple water for a shot of rum or vodka, add cola or orange juice for a mixer or create a cocktail - either a Cosmopolitan, Mojito, Margarita or Lemon Drop.

One ounce (28 grams) of Palcohol mixed with one ounce (28 millilitres) of water will make 1 US standard drink.

The company said it was taken by surprise by the recent release of some of its labels by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which "actually approved it some time ago."

The company said the product would be sold to people of legal drinking age and could even be sprinkled on food.

"Think of Palcohol as liquor... just in powder form. It will be sold anywhere where liquor can be sold," said the company, adding it will be available in the United States, as well as abroad and online.
A patent for the mixture is pending.

Read more: http://www.3news.co.nz/Powdered-alcohol-causes-a-stir-in-US/tabid/417/articleID/341018/Default.aspx#ixzz2zmuGjahb

17 Mar 2014

Helinox Lightweight Walking Poles

Oh boy, I have hit the jackpot here. I thought I was on to a winner with the Fizan walk poles and have used these for a couple of years. These weigh in at 185gms each. But just got my Helinox - these are soooo light and collapse to 52cms!!

Stumbled on to these through sheer luck, I was looking to buy a Stick-Pic (more about that later) for my Fizan poles to accommodate my camera, but the supplier said the Fizan pole was one, of the very few, they do not fit to. I started to hunt around the web for the ultimate lightweight pole that can take the Stick-pic. Found Helinox out of Australia www.helinox.com.au/helinox-walking-poles.php

Here's my logic: In planning for a PCT long thru hike. I feel, given a 70% cell phone coverage, carrying a smart phone would make sense, However, power supply was a major draw back. Enter the Suntactics solar S5 charger (234gms) - a separate review on this after next tramp and field test. Now I could do away with my Samsung light camera (185 gms) and use the iPhone (141gms).

I also needed a way to attach the iPhone (camera) to my hiking poles to take video and photos when by myself and on the move. This is done via the Stic-pic (11gms) www.thestickpic.com  and a smart phone holder (50gms) - the Glif www.studioneat.com/products/glif

OK, are you getting a bit confused now!

Here's the benefits...

No more spare batteries, camera, maps. Take the iPhone, that's all you need. It has a torch app or get the "core" power unit for the Petzel headlight that can be charged off the Suntactics Solar unit.

The iphone also gives me email, internet, music (with lightweight earphones - 14gms) and through a host of APPS many other "delights" like weather, GPS, compass, stars etc etc.

Here's the weight breakdown:

Helinox Poles - 150gms each - replace my Fizan at 185gms each
iPhone - 141gms - replace camera at 185gms, but a huge range of additional benefits with built in maps, GPS, emergency contact, email, music, lighting, time, alarms, loading pics and reports to blog/FaceBook/Google+ etc.
Stick-Pic and iPhone holder - 61gms
Suntactics solar power supply - 232gm - no spare batteries

Here are some pictures - I will be "road testing" this set up April 10 weekend in Nelson and Easter Weekend on Stewart Island, but I do insist I am concentrating here on a one month plus thru-hiking with cell coverage 70% of the time.

Suntactics Solar Charger
Suntactics with UBS

Helinox Poles
StickPic with


16 Mar 2014

The Power Pot

This has got to be the most ingenious hiking invention ever - the Power Pot. Light a fire, put the pot, full of cold water near the flames, plug in cord to your iphone (or any UBS chargeable device) as the water heats up your device charges. It is quite heavy though at 500g.

I think I will stick to my Suntactics at around 250g. But if your interested check it out at http://www.thepowerpot.com/powerpot-v?ref=cat_img

PS: Just tested my Suntactics today. Review on the way

3 Mar 2014

The Lightest Poop Scoop on the Planet

OK, to hell with the weight, I'm going "green".

In the early days my bush loo was a hole dug with the heel of my boot. Toilet stops became more "sophisticated" when I started using hiking poles. Now I could scrap a bigger indent. But at the end of the day these disposal techniques were rudimentary and not bush friendly!

Enter the titanium Cathole Scoop. At 17grams it's a small price to pay to ensure my waste gets a decent burial. I love their inclosed instruction of how to use and the benefits to making Poop Soup. A lot of info here that opened my bowels  err I mean eyes to how to best dispose of human waste in the outback.

Check out http://www.qiwiz.net/trowels.html

Here's a photo of my 18cm Big Dig model - can't wait to make Poop Soup!

27 Feb 2014

Gear Research for PCT

Hi All - as you know I am a gear freak and really enjoying my research into my gear needs for the up and coming PCT section hike. Or for ANY hike :-) Let me mention a couple of must haves for the PCT.

Firstly, I have ordered the Suntactics Solar S5 Charger https://www.suntactics.com/product/usb-scharger-5

This CD size charger is getting rave reviews and charges your cell phone, GoPro, Head Torch with core pack etc. With Apps on iPhone you can have the works - GPS. maps, weather, email, music, journaling and more all on one lightweight appliance - so cool! Verizon has 70% coverage on the PCT.

Secondly the Spot Connect. At the size of a cigarette box and 140grams! It bridges the gap when you have no cell coverage and it connect your cell phone to satellite for total cell and App usage. The only issue is it only carries batteries - can't charge directly of the Suntactics charger above. So will need to get the Suntactics battery charger option - blast, a bit more weight!

Another cool feature of the Spot Connect is the blue tooth connection - no need to carry additional cords, not to mention the instant customised messaging system you can set before your hike, Check it out at http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=116

Thirdly, the Sawyer mini water filter is the rage of the PCT hiking community. This incredibly lightweight weight filter is fabulous. Read and order it at http://sawyer.com/products/type/water-filtration/

Finally the Glif cell phone holder. Allows you to use your iPhone on a Pic Stick http://www.thestickpic.com/ to hold your camera or Gif attachment. This will allow you to shoot photos and video on your cell phone with a 360 vista without having anybody to hold the camera/phone.

You can be a solo movie maker and blog on the hike. With Spot Connect and a Suntactics power supply you can upload from your camp site. Only works if you use a walking pole. The Glif attachment to you Pic Stick to hold your mobile phone attachment is at http://www.studioneat.com/products/glif

The Pic Stick in itself will work for your normal camera and I have used this may times. The Glif adds the iPhone ability - do away with camera and have add feature with Apps on your phone!

I'm hooked!

8 Jan 2014

Xmas 2013 Tramp

Check out my "Trips" page in main menu for photos of our recent hike in the South Island