Lightweight Hiking

It is important that you take the correct gear so you are adequately prepared for the challenges of the terrain and set for all weather conditions. When preparing for a hike every gram of unnecessary weight must be eliminated - EVERY PIECE OF EQUIPMENT AND FOOD HAS TO CARRIED ON YOUR BACK!!!

Some ground rules

The decision of what is essential to take and what can be left behind is critical to ensure that you have a comfortable and healthy hike.


Whether you have an external framed pack or an internal framed pack, make sure it is comfortable. If new or borrowed wear it around the house with weight in it to get use to it. Is there sufficient padding on the shoulders and hips? Is the hip belt and chest strap in the right position? Adjust the straps until comfortable. It is best if everything can fit into the rucksack. Don't hang a billy on the outside, you may not have it at the next stop. Don't attach your sleeping mat to the top of the rucksack; passing trees will shred it to pieces. Don't have a rucksack that is too big as you will fill it and it will be too heavy. Make sure you check all the seams, straps and anchor points for any sign of wear or tearing. Fix any problems before the hike; nobody but you will be carrying that pack even if you have to carry it under your arm.

Sleeping bag

This can be the most expensive item to purchase. Remember that you are not sleeping in a caravan or Scout hall, which most of the lower priced bags are designed for. Down or synthetic fill bags are the most popular. Down is good because it compacts but if it gets wet you can't sleep in it. Synthetic is bulky and weighs more but if it gets wet it can still be used. Check the temperature rating of the bag for the conditions that you expect to encounter. Sleep in long johns or track pants. Remember, there is nothing worse than being cold at night in the great outdoors! When back home never store your sleeping bag in its stuff bag; it best to hang it or leave it loosely in an old pillow case.

Sleeping mat

Some people use them, some don't and the prices and variety varies enormously. In cold weather they insulated you from the cold ground. Foam mats are far cheaper than self-inflating mats but not as comfortable.

Ground sheet

A lightweight groundsheet is very handy - not only can you sit on it during meal breaks, but can be use in an emergency as shelter if your tent rips.


Because it is usually possible to separate a tent into three parts (fly, inner and poles/pegs) its weight can be shared between the two or three walkers using it on the trip. Pack the fly in a plastic bag, to keep separate if it rains overnight.


"A hungry bushwalker is a grumpy bushwalker." To cook your food you will need either a campfire or a stove. You cannot always rely on campfires; it may be raining or there may be little or no wood. Therefore a stove is recommended. There are many varied stoves around, solid fuel, methylated spirit and gas. Make sure you have a non-breakable container with extra fuel. You will need something to cook in - aluminium billies are recommended. Don't forget a knife, fork, spoon and a mug.

Meals are a matter of taste. Breakfast should be regarded as the most important meal as it will fuel you for the efforts of the day. Try muesli or porridge pre-mixed with powdered milk. Bacon and eggs can be taken but only for the first breakfast. For lunch have something that requires little preparation, e.g. noodles, stuffed pocket bread, cheese and salami. Dinner is the meal you have waited for all day and you need something warm and sustaining. Dehydrated hike food is very expensive and only recommended for a hike of over two nights or more. Fresh meat only lasts a day, and is best if pre-cooked or frozen. Take a potato and some hard veggies (carrots, onions, celery), it is important to remember all round nutrition. All the food can be cooked in a pot like a stew or in foil like a roast. Add some herbs or spices for extra taste.

On longer hikes it is a good idea to pack each day's food into separate self-seal bags with the day written with a texta on the front, that way your not tempted to eat too much. Always carry an emergency meal in case you forget something, get extra hungry or are delayed. An instant pasta or rice meal will do.


Snacks are important and keep you going. So take a piece of fruit, a biscuit or a chocolate bar. Make up your own scrogin - dried fruit, mixed nuts, etc.

First Aid Kit

A small personal first aid kit should be carried by each person. Put everyone's kit together in an emergency and you'll have all that you need. Make your own, it's cheaper and don't forget lots of band-aids to treat blisters. If you are taking any medication, remember to take it and tell your hike leader.


You may not change your clothes often on a hike but it is still important to keep clean. Take along, a small piece of soap, a toothbrush, a half filled toothpaste (not a full one it is too heavy), a hand towel, a half roll of toilet paper and sunscreen in a small container. Include a small plastic trowel to dig toilet holes. Remember to wash your hands after.


Carry a very small one with spare batteries. A head torch is great when cooking in the dark; it leaves your hands free.


Ensure that shoes or boots are comfortable and sturdy enough to make the distance - don't take footwear that is too small or wearing out. In summer and spring good, solid sneakers should be OK, but in cold and wet weather, comfortable, waterproof hike boots are a must. Never wear new boots on the hike without first wearing them in to allow them to mould to the shape of your feet and to prevent blisters.


The time of year, the hike terrain and the weather forecast will govern what you wear. You must be prepared for hot, cold and wet weather conditions and have appropriate clothing If cooler conditions are expected, an extra jumper is needed. A WATERPROOF raincoat is a must, as is a brightly coloured jacket that provides protection from cold and damp.

In the mountain areas, days can be warm and the nights extremely cold: two thin woollen jumpers are better the one thick one. Wool absorbs perspiration and remains warm even when wet. Windcheaters and jeans are not recommended as they allow heat loss and when wet stay wet. Hike in shorts, especially when it's is raining, unless you have rain pants, and change into long pants when you make camp.

Thick socks of wool mix are best. Some people prefer wearing a thin pair under a thick pair to stop blisters. Change your socks regularly. 

Designer clothes are out! They will only get wrecked. Keep the weight of your spare clothes to an absolute minimum.

Other essentials

A water bottle - take at least one litre of fresh water from home to use while walking. Water will be available were we are camping so you can refill. 600ml PET bottles are best - they are light, inexpensive and the weight can be evenly distributed throughout your backpack.

Remember to take at least one compass for your hike group and a pencil, a note pad and waterproof plastic cover for your map.

Many scouts carry their own toggle rope - a length of lashing that can be used to help climb, build a stretcher or rig a fly, etc.

Other Scouts carry small personal survival kits in case they are lost or separated from larger parties. These could be contained in small tins, which can double up as a billy. Contents could include bright coloured electrical tape that clearly marks a track; a whistle that cannot be mistaken for bush-talk, matches and a small candle, small mirror, mobile phone (turned off, unless an emergency occurs), some quick energy food such as chocolates, and so forth.

Your sample packing list

Measure the weight of all items that you intend to take and keep them as light as possible:

For any further information talk to any of the Scout Leaders, they are there to help you enjoy the hike.