Warwick Sprawson provides some suggestions on what gear to bring on your Overland Track hike
Despite the popularity of the hike, the Overland Track remains a serious undertaking. It’s a rare trip that doesn’t include rain, hail, strong winds or snow – even in summer. In the Cradle Valley it rains for an average of five days out of seven with 54 snow days a year.
Gear lists are as personal as fingerprints, but a suggested gear list for the Overland includes:
- Backpack. A pack with a 55–75 litre capacity should be sufficient; the exact size depends on whether you’re walking alone or as part of a group (where there are more people to carry the gear). Make sure your pack is large enough to carry your tent and sleeping bag inside the pack — having large items tied to the outside of your pack isn’t ergonomic and the items are likely to get torn and wet.
- Daypack. If you’re planning to do any of the sidetrips then bring a small, collapsible daypack. A daypack allows you to ditch your main pack at a sidetrip junction or hut, while still allowing you to take necessities and keep your hands free for climbing.
- First aid kit.
- Pack cover to help keep the worst of the rain off your pack and to protect it from animals while on sidetrips.
- Insect repellent.
- Fuel stove and fuel. The national park is a fuel-stove-only area. There is no cooking equipment in any of the huts.
- Knife, fork and/or spoon. There are lots of lightweight hiking models available.
- Mug and a plate that doubles as a bowl.
- Roll mat. Slim inflatable ones like the Therm-a-Rest brand are the best as they’re small, comfortable and conserve body heat. There are no mattresses in the huts.
- Comfortable camp shoes like sandals, thongs or Crocs.
- Sleeping bag (rated to -5 °C or lower).
- Sleeping bag liner to keep your sleeping bag clean.
- A tough bin bag to line the inside of your pack. While a pack cover helps keep your pack dry, adding a pack-liner ensures it.
- Earplugs. Huts are small and snorers are loud.
- Plastic bags to carry out your litter.
- LED Torch. A head torch keeps your hands free.
- Small trowel (in case you need to dig a bush toilet).
- Toilet paper (there’s none provided on the track).
- Toiletries, including liquid handsanitiser — useful if you need to clean your hands and aren’t near water.
- Tent. Even if you are planning to sleep in the huts, bringing a small tent is strongly recommended. Huts are sometimes crowded and noisy and in an emergency a tent could save your life.
- Some lengths of string or cord allow for flexibility when attaching your tent to camping platform cables. String is also handy for hanging food-bags from hut rafters: essential for keeping them out of the reach of mice and possums.
- Cigarette lighter and waterproof matches.
- Swiss army knife or similar (they’re just bloody handy).
- 1.5 litre drink bottle (or larger), or a CamelBak-type water dispenser
- A collapsible two-litre water bladder for storing water while at hut.
- Small repair kit with needle and thread.
- Compass/GPS. Especially for sidetrips like the Labyrinth.
- Pot scourer. With a good scourer you won’t need detergent.
- Whistle. To attract attention in case of emergency.
- A novelty or two in case you’re hut-bound.
Other suggestions include a candle, sturdy cloth food bags, hiking poles, playing cards, Personal Locator Beacon and mobile phone (alas, some spots on the track have phone reception).
With the right gear you’ll be able to enjoy the track instead of enduring it!
Excerpted from The Overland Track Guidebook