The Heysen in late Winter is likely to be cold (see Weather Statistics), and maybe wet (I think we're secretly hoping for some snow). The weather graphs are remarkably similar to where we live in the Blue Mountains, where snow is not uncommon (just sayin)
New Gear Required / Purchased
Some of this gear was purchased last year whilst I was planning a late Winter walk through the Alps, which focused on minimising weight. Additionally, some of the replacements are because the originals were purchased so long ago that they are only just doing their job (read: underwear without elastic, socks without a thick foot bed, Stuff sacks where the seam sealing is failing, etc)
- Hyperlite Mid2
The Hyperlite UltraMid 2 is an ultralight four-season tent that is:
easy to set up, efficiently spacious, and because of things like physics, incredibly capable of providing sanctuary in all but the most extreme weather.
- Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt
Part of my 2019/2020 hacking of my gear list to reduce weight and increase season-ness, I decided that a quilt is going to be a better option and give greater flexibility to our sleep system. The Flex 22 will add the required warmth and flexibility we need on just about any hike we're likely to attempt.. Purchased 2021-03-01
- Pillows: Hyperlite
- I didn't expect these to be so good, but it's the simple things that amaze sometimes. The Hyperlite Stuff Sack Pillows are the perfect thickness, add a soft surface on your cheek, and keeps some of your clothes dry if the pack failed. Like they say on their website:
except, we think a good sleep is essential to your body healing itself from the previous day's rigours.
Some might say that a pillow is a luxury on the trail, but we’d simply argue that a good night’s sleep is priceless.
- Rain Mitts
- Mountain Laurel Designs make some amazing stuff. These Rain Mitts are the outer layer to our IceBreaker Quantum Gloves. Our Quantum Gloves have performed well, even on an amazing day on the Australian Alps Walking Track that stormed all day — they became saturated but still kept our hands warm. Purchased 2020-10-25.
Whilst hacking our Gear List (read: thinking critically about what you've been doing over the decades) I realised that our original Sea To Summit Quagmire Gaiters have never been put the test or taken to their limits. This essentially means that we've never used their 226 gm we carried on our feet. So we've purchased Mountain Laurel Designs' SuperLight Gaiters. Purchased 2020-10-25
Electronics / Mapping
- GPSMap 66S
- We've had Garmain GPS hardware almost from the beginning, so it's a bit of a habit that we're uncomfortable to change. Our current Oregon 600 is still performing, but is showing its age. We're looking at the GPSMap 66SR which will add some very beneficial features:
- Real buttons – great in the snow / rain
- Better antena
- Screen scratches on the 600
- InReach Mini
- Previously we've used the SPOT2, and loved it, and found that it performed very well. Whilst considering a solo Sydney to Melbourne hike I realised that I needed to be in greater communication with family. After investigating the inReach Mini, I decided that that unit is what I needed, and going forward I'm keen to make use of the added benefits that the inReach gives over the SPOT.
- Solar Array
As described in Solar Array History, we've had three main iterations with this gear:
- Bibbulmun Track: FUSE4
- Australian Alps Walking Track: FUSE4 + 6W Panel
- Post AAWT: ARC 10W and new V50 batteries
The new ARC 10W panel is like the perfect hiking panel: light and folds in half for easy storage. Purchased 2020-05-13.
- We are now enthusiastic users of Sea to Summit's Pocket Soap. Unbelievably light and easy to use. It also saves the toiletries bag from getting covered in soap scum.
- We weren't sure about these toothpaste tablets, but they are remarkably good. It certainly does away with saving nearly empty tubes of toothpaste and weighing them to determine which food drop to go in… as you only add the number of days required, that's zero guess work.
Clothes seem to be a constant moving target. Recently we pledged on KickStarter for the Outdoor Vitals new Dragonwool garments. They've just arrived, and I'm currently trialling them in various conditions. Although Outdoor Vitals say they are 'light-weight', I'm finding them heavier than most of my other stuff, which is acceptable if they perform better.
- Dragonwool Hoodie
- There is a lot of hype and good reviews for the Dragonwool Hoodie. The jury is still out here. It wears really well, but the couple of hikes I've worn it on I did sweat a lot and the wicking that's talked about didn't seem to happen. The magical cooling they talk about did seem to be in evidence, but Sandi did say I looked hot. That said, I felt comfortable and at a fairly regular temperature… so I'm not complaining.
- Dragonwool Zip-Off Thermals
- I have not yet tried the zip-off thermals, although they seem like an awesome idea, they are considerably heavier than my current Ice Breakers.
- Dragonwool Boxers
- These Dragonwool Boxers were a late add-in on a 'why not?' thought. Our Exofficios are at the end of life, so I need new underwear. I've very much enjoyed the new feel, but again, they did get very sweaty. I'm trialling some IceBreaker boxers to compare.
- Adventure Pants
- We had some confusion over sizing on these Adventure Pants, so they've been sent back to be replaced. They look like a wonderful pair of pants, and if they wear like the shorts I'll be happy. I'm keen to get them out into the sun to see how they go in the heat.
- Adventure Shorts
- I've taken these Adventure Shorts out a couple of times (with the Dragonwool Hoodie), and am sold on stretch materials: they are so comfortable!. So, depending on how these and the pants go in the weather will depend what gets taken on The Heysen.
- Sawyer Water Filters
- We really loved our SteriPens over the years, but when we realised that Ultra Violet was not essential in Australia (we don't have viruses in the water), we started looking at other options. The Mini Water Filter is also great to pull out when you are passing a water source, and just plug in the straw or fill the dirty bottle and drink away. Another added benefit is that there is no reliance on power (not that the SteriPens troubled the Solar Array too much, but it all adds up).
- Platypus DuoLock
- We've been long-time users of the sip&suck water bladders, but got a real shock when we compared the weight with the Platypus DuoLock. These bottles also work much better with the Aarn pack's balance pockets, usually canter levered out further in front! Apparently, getting mouthfuls of water is a better way to hydrate yourself than sipping and sucking as well. Sandi certainly finds it easier to drink from these.
- Yep, our original Exofficio underwear, which have been awesome for the past decade; but they are past their best and can more commonly be seen around our ankles than our waist. We're still thinking about what to get…
- Our Bridgedales are similarly getting too old, having tramped thousands of kilometres over the last decade. We're trialling some Ice Breakers (because the local Paddy Pallin were stopping stocking Bridgedales), so we'll see…
- Sea to Summit bags
- We were somewhat shocked that many of our bags were losing their seam seals, but they too have been around the traps.
- Finally decided to let go of the emotional attachments to our NZ Shepherd Whistles after admitting they didn't necessarily work as we needed. I remeember one day on the Bibbulmun we got separated so I was whistling, but Sandi couldn't hear me until I'd just about caught up. This has happened more than once, so I pulled the trigger on LiteSmith's Tornado Whistles, and honestly, they are painful if blown indoors.
- Julbo Glasses
- My beloved Julbo Trails suddenly started shedding the lens coating. They were way out of warranty, but they offered me a good deal on a replacement pair.
Next TaskFull Packing List
where we'll discover how successful we've been at reducing the weight.
The Friends of The Heysen Trail have a huge amount of resources available, which we have obviously availed ourselves of quite liberally. I'll be updating this as required…