Unless you’re an outdoor expert like Bear Grylls or Russell Coight (ok, maybe not the latter) then you should never venture out into the wilderness without being well equipped with the right equipment to make sure that you have a safe and enjoyable adventure!
Whether you’re into trail running, hiking, rock climbing or just love to get away from the big smoke, this list of equipment can mean the difference between life and death should you ever get into a dire circumstance. Touch wood you never will, but it certainly helps to be better safe than sorry!
All of these items are ESSENTIAL when you embark on the Kokoda Challenges, but we also recommend these things for any training or other hiking adventures;
1. A light day pack
Firstly, you will need something to hold all your survival goodies in. We recommend finding a backpack that is designed specifically for trekking or trail running as they are made to be light weight and while you might not notice a miniscule difference in weight over a few hours, you will definitely notice it when you’ve been hiking for 24 hours non-stop if you’re embarking on the Kokoda Challenge events!
Hiking backpacks have lots of different compartments so you can access things quickly and easily without having to stop and unpack all your belongings to dig down to the bottom of your bag. They will also have little fixtures where you can quickly tie or clip water bottles or wet items of clothing to while you’re walking – very handy!
If you’re embarking on a multi-day trek then obviously you will need something a bit bigger to hold more supplies but the same rules apply – try to find something relatively lightweight with a number of different compartments for easy access. An added bonus is finding a backpack with a pouch and/or hook to hold a water bladder, so your bladder doesn’t sit loosely in your backpack.
2. Toilet paper
We’ve thankfully passed the phase of toilet paper panic buying so you should be able to find this easily at your local supermarket now! This is pretty self-explanatory; when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go! This saves you from using leaves and potentially causing rash or irritation during your walk or run – we’ll let your imagination explain the rest of that one!
Please also make sure that you dispose of toilet paper thoughtfully by burying it 12-20cms deep and away from trails and campsites. As for sanitary items and wet wipes, these items will unfortunately not decompose in the wild as they contain plastic and therefore must be taken out with you in order not to litter our beautiful Australian landscapes.
3. Sunglasses and a hat
Slip, slop, slap! Most of us have felt the wrath of the Australian sun at least once in our lives and know how uncomfortable it is when you get badly burnt. If you’re out in the wilderness for hours on end and are exposed to the sun for an extended period of time, it is essential that you are sun smart! Not only to avoid becoming a lobster after your hike, but also to stop yourself from getting dehydrated! Although the leaves of the trees might be casting shadows over you on occasion, it is not enough to block out UV and you will certainly feel the effects of the sun if you forget your sunnies and hat after a long day out enjoying nature!
4. Head torch
This is only really applicable if you intend on hiking through the night. Having said that however, if you were to become lost or you’ve accidentally underestimated how long a hike might take you during the shorter winter days, a head torch will make your life a lot easier to make your way through the tracks at night. You don’t want to veer off and get lost! It also helps to carry spare batteries with you, a head torch and spare batteries is most definitely essential if you are tackling the Kokoda Challenge endurance events.
5. First aid kit
This one goes without saying and is an absolute essential. A good first aid kit should come equipped with band aids, antiseptic cream, pain killers, tweezers and other added extras that should help cover basic first aid or at least tide you over until real help can reach you for more serious circumstances.
6. Gloves, beanies and jumper
If you’re doing a short walk throughout a warm summer’s day then no, you probably won’t need these. But if you are embarking on one of the Kokoda Challenge events then there is a good chance that you will be walking well into the night. Even in beautiful sunny Queensland, we can reach some astonishingly low temperatures, especially in the hinterland. Pack some lightweight gloves, beanies and jumpers to keep you toasty warm while you’re stopping for a break as you don’t want to cool down too quickly – that’s a recipe for seized muscles!
A hydration bladder for your backpack is ideal for easy access but a water bottle will suffice too. If you can get a water bottle with a carabiner attached to the lid then even better! The key to staying hydrated is short, sharp sips as opposed to taking big, long gulps of water every few hours. To make sure you’re staying properly hydrated, make sure you get a water bottle that makes it easy for you to take regular sips from.
8. Walking poles
Yes, you do need them. We have people ask us every single year, are they really necessary? You maybe an experienced hiker but when you’re undergoing lengths of 48 kilometres or more continuously then we can almost guarantee that you will feel the effects on your knees. The great thing is that if you don’t want to use the walking poles, then you can just strap them onto the back of your pack, but if you do need them then they are there for you!
9. Reflective safety vest
This is another essential if you are embarking on the 48 or 96km Kokoda Challenge. Because you will be walking at night and occasionally on roads, it’s important that you’re easy to spot from a mile away!
10. Race bib
When you pick up your race bibs, it is vital that you keep them visible at all times, so most people find it easier to attach their bibs to their backpacks or shorts/pants so they don’t have to reattach it to new items of clothing when putting on or taking off their jumpers throughout the walk.
It’s a good idea to trial out different snacks while you are training to see what helps fuel you best! Some people choose to take protein bars, Cliff bars (which are available from most major supermarkets), lollies that are high in sugar to give you an added boost when you’re low on energy or fruit and nuts – find what works for you!
12. Pealess whistle
Pealess whistles don’t contain that little ball inside them that you can hear rattling around in traditional whistles. We recommend getting a pealess whistle as the ones with the small ball inside them can often easily become jammed with dirt or water and they also produce less sound!
13. Mobile phones
It is a requirement that you take a minimum of two mobile phones per team in waterproof bags in case it rains (a zip lock bag will suffice). This is not only so you can get great snaps of your journey along the way, but also so you can contact us or emergency services should you need to. It’s also important that we can contact you too! So please make sure that the two phones that you bring are mobile numbers that you have registered when signing up for the Kokoda Challenge.
If you think of anything else we might have forgotten on our list then let us know in the comments below!