Don’t get us wrong We love an overnight hike – nothing beats putting everything on your back and walking into places you can only get to by foot, and focusing on the stars in the sky instead of a TV screen. This all makes sense to us, but why then, we can hear you wondering, do we have some holidays where we go packless for our hikes?
There are plenty of reasons! For one you can cover more distance, and walk a harder gradient without the weight of a pack. You can also manage this at a much quicker pace. In our recent trip to New Zealand we managed to climb 5 peaks (2300m, 1700m, 1600m, 1500m, and 1300m) and walk around 150 kilometres in 6 days when not restricted by our packs. This let us discover the most breathtaking scenery from those peaks, unique gullies and bushland – all the best things that New Zealand has to offer. We certainly couldn’t have done, or seen quite so much in such a short time with bags on our backs.
Packless hiking also means you can choose the best bits of a track. Often on hikes there is just a lot of walking to connected ranges, but day walks skip this and take you to the best parts, giving you more time to relax at the end of the day with a wine in your hand!
You also get to eat delicious food and have a hot shower, two luxuries regular hiking don’t usually allow for. These fantastic meals, hot showers and comfy beds also were a large part of the reason we could cover so much ground while exploring New Zealand. We felt fully rejuvenated at the start of every day after our batteries (head, body and legs) were recharged every night. Never underestimate the power of a fantastic, home cooked meal! It’s certainly nicer than eating processed and dehydrated foods for days on end.
Packless hiking also means you can challenge yourself to do much harder walls. Climbing to the top of steep peaks is not so easy, no matter your fitness, with a pack on your back. Of course the sense of accomplishment you feel when you do finish a harder hike with a pack is very special, sometimes the views you can see are that bit more spectacular with the walks made available to you through packless hiking. Its also more time efficient to opt for packless hiking. This is particularly important when you are travelling interstate, or even overseas such as to New Zealand, and you want to make the most of the limited time you have there.
For us, we love both packless hiking, and strapping those packs on for 1-3 nights. Whenever we go on hiking holidays from now on we will be doing a bit of both, and giving ourselves the chance to make the most of what is on offer in those spectacular destinations.