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Gear we took to New Zealand, part 1 — shared gear

Some people asked me what gear, clothes and other stuff we took on the 2-month trip my wife and I did from December to February. We went hiking for ~28 days, canoeing for 5 days and spent the time in between on buses, walking, strolling around in towns from tiny to huge and Singapore :) In the next few posts I am gonna nerd out on the stuff we had with us and how it performed.

All in all, I was quite happy with all the stuff we took on our trip. Since we did not rent a car, we always carried everything we had with us, except for some day-trips or on longer stays in the city. No need carrying my sleeping bag to the cinema :)

For starters let's have a look at the shared gear my wife and me carried, so everything that we both used. We tried to split the weight of shared gear roughly in two, so my wife carried the tent poles, stakes and the cook kit, I carried first aid, some shared hygiene products, electronics and the tent itself. I really wanted to know how much everything weighs, so I put everything on the scale.

Let's dive into it:

The Tent — Hilleberg Nallo 3

Since this is the only tent we own at the moment, it was the tent we took on our adventure. At 2.4 kilograms total, this tent is not really lightweight, but 1.2kg per person for a do-it-all, absolutely weather- and bug-proof shelter wasn't too bad. The tent was the heaviest thing we carried. It was summer in New Zealand, so this tent was absolutely overkill, since it is a 4-season tent designed to withstand the foulest of weather. But we had two nights with a pretty heavy rainstorm on a very exposed campsite in the middle of the sea, and we were very happy to have stayed completely dry, while some other tents from fellow campers where just plain destroyed. Having a sandfly-proof refuge to escape the bloodsucking madness of New Zealand's South Island really was a blessing and saved the mood on a lot of evenings. The 3-person version of this tent is a fucking palace for two and very nice for my long legs. Everything about the craftsmanship, setup and the tiny little features about this tent is just amazing. I especially like the yellow inner tent: even on the greyest, rainiest days it felt like a sunny summer :)

All in all, this is an amazing tent, and absolutely worth the price. But it was a present for our marriage 2 years ago, so: bonus points :) If I had to buy another tent, it probably would be a much lighter one from HMG or ZPacks, but for the occasional 3-5 day outing with my wife, the Hilleberg performs flawlessly and offers a nice amount of privacy.

Weight: ~2.4 kilograms, with all stuff sacks, stakes and poles

First Aid and Hygiene

First Aid Kit

We only carried the essentials in first aid, and only things we knew how to use. Which in the end was more than I thought, because we just did a first aid training before we went on vacation. With first aid it is the other way around compared to other gear: the more you know, the more you carry. Everything fitted into one 1-liter Zip-Loc-Bag:

  • Lots of Compeed blister care, some normal and sterile band-aids for tiny cuts etc., leukotape
  • Aspirin Akut + Direct, Ibuprofen, Anti-Diarrhea tablets, 'Hirschhorntalg' for feet care, a tiny tin of tiger balm
  • one pair of latex gloves, alcohol wipes, gauze bandages, one heavy elastic bandage
  • small Classic Swiss Army knife with scissors, tweezers and a file

Total weight: ~210g

Bug Protection

Before we went to New Zealand, people told us about sandflies and how bad they can be. DEET should have worked quite well, but with sensitive skin and it's ability to fuck up plastics, we avoided it. So we prepared and bought 'Sandfly Goodbye', a natural bug-repellent, before we went into the outback. It was OK when the sandflies weren't that bad, but oh boy, they were really bad. We had one night while on the Heaphy Track with literally (no kidding) thousands of sandflies between the outer and inner tent. The ceiling of the outer tent was black, and all the tiny little sandfly-feet sounded like rain on the ceiling. Yes, that bad — they wanted to kill us, basically.

Sunscreen

New Zealand has a thinner ozone layer than Europe, and we hiked around in heights up to 2000m, so sunscreen was obligatory. We each carried a small tube and shared, if one of us ran out of sunscreen, we had a backup — and trust me, you need one with the New Zealand sun.

Hand sanitizer

I carried a small bottle (30ml) of hand sanitizer, but I didn't often use nor quite like it. Sure, it is convenient to clean up your hands with smelly alcohol stuff before preparing food and things like that (and it's a nice fire starter), but it dried out my skin a bit, and a tiny drop of soap and water serves the same purpose. Won't use that stuff again in the future...

Personal Hygiene

A small bottle of Dr. Bronners Soap, Q-tips, a tiny flask of perfume, a toothbrush, floss, and a small tube of toothpaste (Ajona, awesome stuff), some hand lotion and one of my absolute favorite items I tried for this vacation: Wolkenseifen deodorant creme — that's all I needed. The deodorant creme was amazing: even after 5 days of hiking without a real shower I did not smell like a dead possum.

While that is way more than I would take on a weekend hike, it wasn't that much, and being able 'to dress up' at Christmas and when in town was a good feeling. In the end it was a hiking-and-sightseeing-holiday, so not looking or smelling dorky was well worth the weight. We shared the deodorant, soap, Q-tips, toothpaste and floss, and for cutting nails we used the small Classic Swiss Army knife from the first aid kit. I carried no shaving gear at all and just let it grow (and still like it).

To sum things up, the average total weight carried for first aid, sunscreen, bug-protection and all other personal hygiene products was about ~350-400g per person. Nothing I would carry when only hiking, but for 2 months on the other side on the planet I'd rather carry more. And at the end of our journey, it was basically only empty containers :)

Cooking and Water

Since we both like to prepare food and are not too fond of the expensive, freeze-dried meals you can buy in the store, we opted for a larger cook kit, consisting of the following parts:

  • Toaks Titanium 1L, 106g
  • Toaks Titanium 1.3L, 107g
  • Toaks Pan (doubled as a lid), 57g
  • GSI Soloist cup, 36g
  • Stainless steel cup, 81g
  • FireMaple Hornet FMS-300T Stove, 45g
  • Cotton Bandana, 30g
  • Mini Bic lighter, 11g
  • Tiny Scrub Pad, 3g
  • Stuff sack, padded, 19g
  • Aquamira A+B water treatment drops, 65g

With a total weight for the cook kit and water treatment resulting in: 560g

For a total of half a kilo we had a full fledged kitchen, just without the kitchen sink. Two ~1 liter pots are more than enough for two people, and having the extra cups was very convenient. The usual breakfast routine was: boil the larger pot of water, dump porridge in the other pot and teabags in each of the cups, dump the water over everything and leave enough in the large pot for a second portion of gooey good-morning-slime. Yummy.

Everything fitted like Russian dolls in the largest pot, the bandana wrapped around the stove and the lighter. The stove, the tiny scrub and Aquamira fitted in in the cups. The only minor issue with this kit is the stove itself: while the FireMaple stove is insanely light and compact, it is very loud and the heat is not that widespread as with other stoves. Frying bacon was not easy, and the noise of the stove gave it the nickname 'coffee dragon'.

While we carried a water filter, we more often used the Aquamira water treatment drops. They are very light weight, don't taste like a swimming pool and are very easy and convenient to use. Water quality on the Great Walks in New Zealand was generally very good, but on some campsites (or when drinking from a stream/river) we'd rather treat the water instead of fucking up our precious bowels.

Electronics

The last category of equipment we shared was electronics: we only took one USB-Charger with two ports (and international adapters), one battery pack and one camera. The charger was just a cheap one weighing a total of 90 grams, but was able to charge up all electronic devices we carried when in town. Some details on the camera and battery pack:

Solpro Pyxis solar charger + battery pack

Got this through a kickstarter campaign. It is a 5000mAh battery pack with an integrated solar charger, that actually works and charges in about 5h of direct sunlight. Free electricity? Yeah, babe. It has a build in SD-Card reader and 64GB of internal storage, all you want for backing up photos and storing an additional SD-Card. To be honest: I didn't use it that often, and if I had planned better and always recharged everything while we were staying at hostels, I would probably not have needed it. But since I went on a photo-shooting-spree it came in quite handy. And the idea of storing the sun during the day to charge up my headlamp for the night gets me all excited in a very nerdy kind of way :) Total weight: 261g

Sony RX100 mk3 + extra battery + two extra SD Cards

We own a DSLR, but since weight was important because we always carried everything, I gifted myself this amazing little pocket camera. The image quality is amazingly good and it has all the beloved features I need. The camera took quite a beating during those two months, because I didn't use a protective case of any kind (throwing the camera in a Zip-Loc-Bag doesn't really count), but it is still going strong. I like it, and will keep it, and it got me enthusiastic about photography again, which alone was worth the money. Total weight 334g

Miscellaneous

Oh, the last shared thing I almost forgot was the repair kit. Weighing in at 78g it still contained everything we needed: needles + string, Duct tape, repair patches for our sleeping mats, security pins and buttons, instant glue and a tiny sharp razor blade. We did use needle and string and the glue, and thankfully had not to repair any important equipment.

Summary

And that was all the shared gear we had with us. To sum it all up (rounded up):

  • Tent: 2400g
  • First Aid, 210g
  • Hygiene, Sunscreen etc.: ~370g each
  • Cooking and Water: 560g
  • Repair Kit: 80g
  • Electronics: 600g

We had a total shared weight of 4590g, so ~2.3 kilograms each. Let's remember this number and go on to the next blog post: my backpack and sleeping system.



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