Sunday, 22 June 2014

Let the Shopping Begin

Well I have held off as long as I could but have now succumbed and have started purchasing my new gear for the walk. I have convinced myself that I need to start buying now just in case things take a while to get delivered all the way to NZ - yes that is a weak excuse when I am 4 months out but it works for me.

While I already have a good range of Tramping equipment it is mainly the traditional indestructible kit - meaning heavy (base weight of around 15kg). As I would like to enjoy the TA I aim to carry as little as possible and have a 7-8kg base weight.

The unfortunate thing is that even though I have ordered the things now I will not be able to play with my new toys until October when I return home from DR Congo where I am living. Luckily my ever supportive parents have agreed to check everything as it arrives and store it until I get back home.

I am a little worried about the fit of some of the things, in particular the Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket but I have an alternate if there is an issue, it is just much heavier.

I had some issues with some of the things I wanted not able to be shipped direct to NZ,  due to licencing reasons I think. The cost of outdoor equipment in NZ is significantly more than what you pay in USA or Europe. While I would love to buy NZ made there is not much ultralight weight gear available in NZ, or it is very expensive. I have decided to buy my bigger items, and the lightweight items from USA and have it shipped to NZ using the wonderful NZ Post You Shop. NZ Post give you a USA address to ship items to and then they forward it to you in NZ. This gets around the licencing issues. If the NZ Distributers were adding a reasonable mark-up I would not do this but I think the mark-ups they charge are unreasonable.

From ZPacks ( have ordered a Hexamid SolplexTent, Down Sleeping Bag (-7 degree Celcius 900 fill, 5.9" water repellent down), Rain jacket, Rain Pants, Rain Mitts and Arc Blast 60 litre Pack with some extra functions like hip pockets and trekking pole loops. I also ordered some cuben fibre repair tape, spectra cord, Velcro, pertex repair tape, titanium pot, Sawyer Mini Water Filtration and some Cuben Fibre Drybags and towels.

I was intending to go with an Aarn Natural Balance Pack but even though I like the concept the weight is putting me off. The comparison of 1.86g of the natural balance vs the 560g of the ZPack Arc Blast 60 litre with all the add-ons. Therefore I have gone with the ZPack. If I don't like it at least Aarn is a NZ company so I could switch easily. I do plan to carry waterbottles on my front shoulder straps and may look at a way to transfer the weight from my shoulders to the hip belt which may offset some of the weight at the back.

From Dirty Girl ( I have ordered 2 pairs of gaiters in hydrate blue customised as apparently I have fat ankles for my shoe size. I got 2 pairs as I tend to scuff my ankles when I walk so I anticipate wearing through one after 1500km or so.

From Amazon I have ordered a Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket (mens to ensure I have enough room in the shoulders), Titanium spoon and 450ml cup, MSR Micro Rocket Gas Cooker, Freshette (to wee standing up or in my tent when it is raining and I don't want to go outside), Thermarest Neo Xlite Womens Sleep Pad.

From QiWiz Ultralight ( I have orders the original titanium trowel and a titanium wind break.

From Outdoor Supplies in NZ I have ordered Platypus Water Bottles (2 x 500ml, 2 x 1 litre, 1 x 2 litre).

With the new gear decisions I am looking at max 8005 g (17.6 lb) or if I am really disciplined possibly 7096 g (15.6 lb). Unfortunately until I get home and put my kit together in October I am not going to know my weight for sure.

I am also still tossing up between gas stove and coke can alcohol stove. I will do some experimenting when I get home to decide.

The remainder of the gear I will get in NZ. I plan to stopover in Christchurch before landing in Dunedin to hit the outdoor shops there as I know where they all are and they have a good range. This will be for shoes and clothes mainly as I definitely want to try on before buying given my non standard feet and body shape.

At this stage I expect to spend around 10 days at home before starting the trail around 1 November. 

On a recent holiday I did some hiking around Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa and it really made me keen to get started on Te Araroa Trail. I loved being able to tramp again, even if it was only for 5 hours. I didn't realise how much I miss the freedom to just go for a tramp in the weekend or take a few days of work to head into the hills. Unfortunately in Kinshasa, DR Congo, I am not allowed to walk anywhere for security reasons except one 2 km circuit in a secure area where all the embassy's are. It gets boring really quickly!

Only 4 months until I leave DR Congo and 4 1/2 months until I start the trail. I have not quite got to the countdown by day but am not far off it!