Adventure Kokoda Gear Guide: BACKPACKS

The wide range of backpacks/rucksacks available can be a bit daunting for inexperienced trekkers.  The best advice I can give is do some research online before you step into a camping shop otherwise you will be at the mercy of the sales staff who might want to push a particular brand – and probably an expensive one at that – rather than satisfy your needs for a trek across the rugged and remote Owen Stanley Ranges in Papua New Guinea.

My first backpack for Kokoda had an external frame – I still have welts in my back to prove it.  Never again!

If you intend to continue your adventures off the beaten track after Kokoda you should outlaying a bit of extra money and look at brands such as Osprey, One Planet, Deuter, Macpac or Wilderness Equipment. You can check them out by clicking on each link. You need to be prepared to spend $250 plus on these top of the range backpacks.

I have been using an Osprey pack for the past few years and cannot think how it can be improved. It is light, strong and well-balanced. I believe the other brands are of equal quality but I can only report on what I carry.

If you are looking for a good quality reliable backpack I would recommend a Caribee 65 or 80 litre. These range in price from $130 upwards and you won’t get better value than that for the price. We purchased a few hundred of an earlier model around four years ago and they have been used by our PNG guides and carriers on a continuous basis ever since.  They have lasted at least a year more than I expected so I have no hesitation in recommending them.

You might like to keep the following hints in mind when you venture into your nearest camping store to purchase your backpack: [Read more…]

Adventure Kokoda Gear Guide: How to pack your backpack

The best way to plan your backpack load is to lay out all of your gear to get it organized. This is a great way to make sure you have everything you need and organize it by weight.

It is then a good idea is to cluster similar small items, such as eating utensils, toiletries, 1st Aid items, clothing, sleeping gear, etc and pack them in zip lock or stuff bags. I use different coloured bags for these items.

I pack the things I am likely to need during the day in the zipper compartment on the top of my pack i.e. head-torch, mosquito repellent, snacks, spare torch batteries and lighter.

I pack my cup, eating utensils and a small chamois in the side compartments.

When loading my pack I obviously place the gear I do not need during the day at the bottom of the pack i.e. sleeping bag (which is packed in a waterproof stuff-sack); sleeping gear and clothing.  I then pack my 1st Aid Kit, rain jacket, plastic plates and toiletries at the top of the pack for easy access during the day.  As a guide you should place your items so that 80 percent of the weight is sitting on your hips.

If you have a foam or therm-a-rest sleeping mat you can strap this to the outside of your backpack – if the ground is wet when you take a break you can easily unstrap it and use it as a mat.  I also hang my sandals on the outside of my pack for easy access for creek crossings.

After your bag is packed, tighten all compression straps to limit load-shifting while trekking.