Planning to hike in NZ or anywhere else in the world? Taking the right hiking wear is extremely important. We have a saying here in New Zealand – “you can get four seasons in one day” so going prepared is paramount for your safety. Weather conditions can change very quickly due to the rugged and alpine environment of many New Zealand walking tracks. The weather at any car park can differ from conditions further up the track. Being cold at night, having a pack that doesn’t fit you correctly, or simply leaving behind the right gear for hiking can make or break your trip.
When looking to purchase hiking gear, we’re definitely spoiled for choice. Internet shopping has given us the opportunity to view a vast range of products from all over the world. Shopping has never been easier. My aim is to give you a list of the gear I take hiking, with helpful links to places where I shop.
It can be overwhelming if you’re a first time backpacker trying to figure out what you need to take, or perhaps you’re a seasoned hiker looking to update your hiking gear and hiking boots. My list will give you the basics and link you to reviews which will make your decision making a lot easier.
What To Take Hiking
Below I’ve prepared a master list of hiking gear for all walks: day walks, overnight walks and multi-day walks. Believe it or not, each of these walks are quite different. The duration of these walks, where you walk, and what time of year will dictate what you need to take. For example, choosing the right rain jacket is essential; types of jackets can vary depending on the time of the year and whether you are hiking for multiple days or hiking for one day in warmer months on a showery day. A three layer or gortex jacket is a must for multi-day hiking and walking in longer periods of wet weather. A lighter, more compact jacket is great for warmer months and showery days. These things are important to remember when selecting the right gear for your hike.
What To Wear Hiking
How To Choose A Backpack
Essential hiking wear
These insulated jackets are great for wearing on cold days. Compact and light weight, they fit nicely under your rain jacket and cram into a small compression bag to fit into a pack. Great around the campsite or the hut, making them important hiking wear items.
These hiking wear items are essential for any type of hiking:
- Fleece Tops
- Base Layers
- Wet weather pants
Wet Weather Pants
Choose a synthetic shirt over a cotton one. Cotton absorbs moisture and dries slowly. You’ll stay warm and dry in the more technical fabrics, they’re a little more expensive but definitely worth the money.
Hiking boots and socks
One of the key essentials to hiking wear in New Zealand is having a durable pair of hiking boots. It’s never been easier to find cheap hiking boots in NZ; now that we are firmly established as the adventure capital of the world, there are adventure stores in abundance often with sales on hiking boots. When buying cheap hiking boots, read the reviews and check the sizing before purchasing on-line. Stores like Kathmandu allow you to return or exchange items that are too big or small at a store near you. Like wise the other New Zealand sites we promotion here; Torpedo7 and The North Face have return policies as well. Our international sites; Amazon and Cotswold Outdoors do too. There is nothing more satisfying than getting a great bargain on sale. With New Zealand’s rugged terrain and changing weather conditions, you need a good pair of boots for hiking. Not having a quality pair can lead to injury or serious damage to your feet and even be dangerous.
Hats and gloves
How To Choose A Sleeping Bag
A sleeping bag is one of the most important things you can have, so when choosing one there are a number of factors you need to take into account. Similar to choosing a rain jacket, the time of the year and where your hiking dictates what type of sleeping bag you need. There are two main types: down or synthetic – I have one of each, both bags are very warm. Down is more compact and definitely my choice for a multi-day walk. Your hiking gear is incomplete without a sleeping bag.
Sleeping Bag Liners
They help extend the life of your sleeping bag by keeping it clean, they are easy to wash, adds extra warmth on cooler nights and on warmer summer nights can be used on their own…using your sleeping bag like a duvet.
Great for insulation and extra warmth on cold nights. Comfort and getting a good nights sleep is also important.
This is a personal preference…personally I fill my stuff bag with clothes and that’s worked well for me for years…perhaps that’s a guy thing lol. However based on the reviews I’ve read, small is all you would need if you required a pillow.
Sandals or Jandals
Light weight and don’t take up much room in your pack, Sandals or Jandals are great items to wear around the hut.
Another essential item is a map which is paramount for ones safety when walking in New Zealand. I suggest taking a Topomap they’re the best maps to use for hiking in New Zealand.
Keeping hydrated is one the most important things to do when hiking. You should be hydrated before you start your walk, once on the track make sure you carry plenty of water and know where you can refill drink bottles or bladders.
Whilst taking the right hiking wear is essential, food is also a must for ensuring a fun and safe hike. The food you take needs to be light-weight, high in carbohydrates and nutritious. Many food options can be bought from the supermarket, I tend to go for fresh products for the first day or two and then its light-weight dehydrated food from there on in. Check out the Backpack Gourmet for ideas and suggestions. Dehydrate and prepare your meals from home, it’s definitely a cheaper option. Otherwise, there’s a range of already made meals which can be purchased online, I’ve listed some of them below and the reviews are pretty good, so compare the price and have a read of the reviews. I would suggest trying these or any meals you plan to take before you go.
Tents For Camping
Another consideration is whether you choose to stay in huts, if hiking one of our Great Walks and have booked your huts you won’t need a tent. For other walks in New Zealand…National Parks and Forest Parks etc., I would recommend carrying one or at the very least a fly as huts can be full and are on a first come basis. I generally use huts but have been caught out a few times, so a fly is something I would always carry as an essential hiking gear item. As a safety precaution one should be carried if for what ever reason the hut isn’t reached.
As mentioned above, I strongly recommend carrying a map of the area plus a guide book. Safety in the mountains is paramount and having the right accessories is a must to add to your repertoire of hiking gear.
For a day hike this is what I suggest:
- Food and plenty of fluid
- Waterproof and windproof raincoat and trousers
- Warm hiking wear: thermals and fleece
- Hat and gloves
- Sturdy and durable hiking boots
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- First Aid Kit
Once again, it depends on the time of year and where you’re walking. If hiking above the bush-line, i.e. the Tongariro Crossing, take all the hiking gear listed above. If it’s a warm summer day in the bush the waterproof trousers and gloves may not be needed; common sense prevails but if in doubt take them.
If you’re looking to purchase hiking gear or upgrading, I suggest comparing the price and reading the reviews. I find the reviews extremely helpful, they provide a great researching tool where you can view the opinions of others. The pros and cons or their tips on sizing, which makes the decision making so much easier. I thought about writing reviews for each of these items but felt the opinions of others was more valuable than just mine. I suggest doing your homework: read the reviews on cheap hiking boots and gear and have a look at different brands. Once you’ve decided on what you want you can purchase from one of my links or shop somewhere else.