Why We Love Packless Hiking and Day Walks

Why We Love Packless Hiking and Day Walks

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.

5 experiences of a female solo hiker.

5 experiences of a female solo hiker.

As a female hiker who has been running an adventure company for last three years, I jumped at the opportunity to take my first overnight solo hike to Lerderderg Gorge. I have spent many years walking in this particular area and have lead many days and overnight walks, so I felt confident I had the knowledge and navigation skills to take on a solo adventure. I headed off into the forest with around 9kgs of lightweight gear and faced the challenge.

Below are the top 5 experiences I would like to share with you as a solo female bushwalker.

1. I chose to challenge myself.
I could have gone anywhere. I could have made this trip easy and done something I’ve done many times before such as Sealers Cove, however challenging myself was important, so I took off with a map to explore more of Lerderderg Gorge. Being able to go anywhere, at whatever time you like and taking it as fast or slow as you like is something very unique. We are hooked on timeframes and destinations in our daily lives and it was fantastic to choose my own path. Going solo also meant I could challenge myself to pack as lightly as possible. (learn more about everything I took with me here).

2. Safety
I am an experienced hiker, have good navigation skills and felt prepared for the walk, however there are still certainly some moments of doubt. I’m remote first aid trained, carried my PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) and had enough food and water should I end up on the track for longer than anticipated. There are always lots of safety considerations when you are by yourself, and this walk required particular caution as it is an incredibly rocky and steep gorge. I also saw a snake within the first few minutes of my walk! No no matter how prepared or experienced you are accidents can happen, so before I left I went through the walk with my partner and made sure each of us knew the risks and the response. My advice is to remember the Scout motto “Be Prepared” and ‘Let someone know before you go”.

3. Fears of boredom and loneliness
I’m sure many people think of solo hiking then disregard it for fear of getting bored or lonely. The Australian bush is so amazing, and Lerderderg Gorge is no exception. If you embrace the scenery it can be very hard to feel lonely in nature.

There is also a lot to do when you are solo hiking and I was constantly navigating, then had to set up my tent, prepare my meals, and have a dip in the water, plus I sleep so well when hiking! I went to sleep just after 10, and didn’t wake up until just after 7! However, there is also a lot of down time and it’s a fantastic opportunity to disconnect from a busy world, prioritise the important things in life and even play a game or two of solitaire!


4. Ladies business
This one may sound a bit funny, but I joked about it with some of the team when I got back and they all agreed with me! I’m often hiking or racing outdoors with guys who pretend to be admiring the view and relieve themselves without warning! As a female, this isn’t so easy, so being by myself in such a remote area it was a relief to relieve myself whenever I wanted!

5. How I reflect on the Experience
This was one of the most important aspects of taking on this adventure by myself. My partner was at home jealous that I was out on a hike, as were a number of friends and colleagues who would have jumped at the chance to join me. We are all social creatures and I couldn’t help but think of all the people I wanted to be able to share moments with whilst out there. I took a lot of photos so I could show them when I got back, and I have definitely made it a priority to experience this wonderful area with them in the future.
So while I feel very confident in myself and proud of accomplishing my first solo overnight hike. I can’t wait to take others along and show them the beauty, and benefits of experiencing nature.

Summary
Even though I understand why some people like the solitude of being out on the track solo, for me sharing experiences is a vital part of my life and what keeps me inspired to keep on adventuring. I have the skills and confidence to solo hike but I’m not sure I want to do it all the time. This isn’t because of boredom or because I’m scared, but because life is about the experience and I found myself wanting to share this amazing slice of the world with someone.

Gear List for an Ultra Light Solo Female Walker

Gear List for an Ultra Light Solo Female Walker

When deciding to undertake her first overnight solo hike to Lerderderg Gorge, Tracey chose to challenge herself not just with the solo walk itself, but also to see just how light she could get her bag. From years of running an adventure company, the Take Shape crew are fortunate to have acquired some very good gear which does make this easier. 

As we all know anything you pack you have to carry, which means packing light is always the way to go! Ho, ever on this particular trip Tracey also knew she was setting off late and only had limited time to complete this walk, ultra light hiking was the way to go.

So here is the complete pack list:

Pack start weight without water: 6.55kg 

Pack full including water and food: 8.9kg

Pack at end of walk: 6.95kg

Big Gear 

Bag – Osprey Talon 33litre

Tent – Wilderness Equipment Dart One Man Tent 2kgs

Sleeping quilt – Enlightened Equipment Enigma (450gms)

Sleeping mat – Sea to Summit Ultralight (400gms)

Pillow – Nature Hike Aero Pillow

Food and Hydration 

UV water filter which was used as a drinking cup and water source – Camel Back with UV Steriliser

2 x Hydrolite tablets.

1 litre Billy that was used to eat out of ( no need for a cup or bowl) inside that was stored one titanium spork, one detachable gas burner, 6 matches, a lighter and one tiny little sponge.

Day one: afternoon tea, dinner, breakfast, snacks and a light lunch (aiming to finish by 2pm). Food consisted of:

Apple

Muesli Bars

6 Dates

400 gram bag of nuts and seeds

4 muesli bars (supermarket bought)

Foil packet of Sweet Potato Soup

6 rice cakes with thinly spread peanut butter

1 cup of muesli

4 tablespoons of powdered milk

1 tablespoon coffee & 1 tea bag

The dates, two muesli bars and half the nuts all came home again.

Personal Gear 

Wearing:

Trail shoes

running socks

gators

pair of shorts

T-shirt

Visor

Sunglasses

Carried in Pack:

Marino lightweight hoodie

Ultra light macpac Puffer jacket

Small microfibre towel

Poo shovel and toilet paper

Walking poles (these were used for most of the walk)

First aid and safety

Map of the area

Small Compass

Phone battery charger

First aid kit with extra snake bandage

SA2G Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

This really did weigh under 10kgs! Remembering it was only an overnight hike, and no rain was forecasted, so no rain jacket was needed just a warm jacket for night time or an emergency should one arise.

If you want anymore information on gear, and what to pack you can always ask us!

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