Tips on packing your backpack
The most important thing to consider when packing your backpack is to leave all the unnecessary items at home. Refer to our Smart packing section for more tips.
Pack your sleeping bag, down jacket and any other light items in the bottom compartment of the backpack.
Put heavy equipment such as tent, food, cooking fuel, heavier clothing, extra water, book/magazine, inside the main large pocket, close to your back.
Put midweight gear such as clothing, sleeping bag liner, cooking pots, toiletries, towards the outside of the main large pocket, in front of all the heavy gear.
Small, often used items like blister band aids, sunglasses, light gloves, a hat, head torch, should be stored in the lid pocket or the pocket on the front of the backpack where they are easily accessible.
The pocket on the inside of the lid is great for storage of your dirty laundry. Please keep the dirty laundry in a stuff sack or plastic bag.
Your water bottle and hydration bladder, which you will be using during the day, should be evenly distributed between the two side pockets.
Two smaller side pockets are ideal for your snacks, which you plan to consume during the day, toilet paper, sunscreen, insect repellent and hand sanitiser.
There is a handy little pocket on your waist belt which is ideal for storing items you want to have access to at any time while on the track, like tissues, lip balm and your mobile phone.
We recommend that all equipment is stored inside your backpack to protect it from rain and from being damaged by getting caught on branches and rocks.
If you must attach any equipment to the outside, make sure it’s strapped well to the backpack to prevent it from swinging.
Walking poles can be attached to the outside of your pack when not in use.
Keep an even weight distribution across the pack, in particular the side pockets.
Various colour packing cells and stuff sacks are great for separating your equipment. This allows you to find things quicker and easier in your pack. The waterproof sacks will also provide additional protection against rain.
Keep your lunch in an easy to reach place, but inside your backpack where it’s dark and cool.
How to reduce size and weight of some items
The weight of your backpack will depend on the duration of the tour you have purchased. On any one day tour, your backpack should only weigh between 6 and 10kg including water. On multi day tours, your backpack will weigh between 17 and 22kg plus water. Over the years of hiking I have learnt what items are necessary to bring along and how to reduce them in size and weight. The lack of water is scarce and having to carry so much of it certainly adds few kilos to your backpack, but the bonus is that your backpack will get lighter each day as you consume food and water along the way.
I know all this sounds very daunting and hard work, I’m sure that by now you are thinking, “how on earth am I ever going to manage carrying all this weight”, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. It is very different to lift this kind of weight in your hand or to have the weight distributed on your back. The backpacks we use are specifically designed for long distance touring and to carry heavy loads. Their harness is designed to distribute the weight over your hips and to reduce the weight from your shoulders and your back. You will be surprised how comfortable and easy it feels. And, you will never have to put the backpack on or take it off by yourself, we will be there to assist you.
In saying all this, you need to consider the weight of all the items when packing for your hiking trip. Remember that everything you pack, you will have to carry on your back for the length of the hike. Even though all the items you’ll bring along are essential for your survival and comfort, there are ways to reduce weight and size of some of these items. Here’s few tips to help you out.
* Toothbrush, toothpaste, roll on deodorant, moisturiser, sunscreen, insect repellent, hand sanitiser, floss, comb – all these items can be purchased in small travel size packaging. If you are struggling to find a small toothbrush, purchase a standard size cheap brand and cut half of the handle off. Then smooth the rough sharp edges with a file.
* Microfibre towels are the best. They are lightweight, pack small and dry quickly. You only need to bring a small towel to dry your feet after river and creek crossings and to wipe your hands. All outdoor and camping stores such as Rays Outdoors, Kathmandu, Anaconda, sell microfibre towels of various sizes.
* Do not bring soap. You will not need it and unless it’s biodegradable, we do not encourage it to be used outdoors. This is where wet wipes come extremely handy. Work out how many you might approximately need and base the pack size you bring on that. You should only need a small pack.
* Toilet paper – there is no need to bring the entire roll. We all know approximately how many times a day we go to the toilet. So, give it some thought and work out how much paper you might need, then double it. Roll the amount of toilet paper you are taking off the roll and place inside a zip lock bag to protect it from getting wet.
* At the end of the day, you will have an opportunity to relax and have some ME time and we all like to relax differently. Some of us like to read, others prefer to listen to music, some just like peace and quiet and others like to socialise. You can do all this on multi day hikes, you just need to know what to pack to make it possible. If you’d like to bring some reading material, electronic readers like Kobo and Kindle are ideal, just make sure they are fully charged before you leave home. However, if you don’t have an electronic reader, a small book or 1 magazine are also OK to bring along. If you’d like to listen to music bring an iPod or your mobile phone with small headphones. We ask you to be considerate to others when listening to music, use your headphones and keep the volume low. Also make sure that your iPod and mobile phone are fully charged before leaving home. If you are the social type, you might want to bring along a deck of cards and engage others in a game.
How to layer your clothing
A hiker’s clothing is all about practicality, comfort over style. We need items that will keep us dry when it’s wet, warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot. Breathable, comfortable, lightweight, durable, weight and space, all of these attributes should be accounted for in as few as items as possible.
By dressing in multiple lighter layers, as opposed to a single thick or bulky layer, you will be able to better adapt to a wide range of conditions.
There are three principal layers, Base, Mid and Shell/Outer and each layer has its own function. * The Base Layer is the layer closest to your skin and manages moisture. * The Mid Layer keeps you warm. * The Shell/Outer Layer protects you from wind, rain and snow.
These layers can be removed or added according to the weather and/or exertion level at any given time. Layering your clothing when heading outdoors is key to being comfortable and protected from the elements. Experiment with the layers. When it feels good and comfortable, you will know you got it right.
What weather to expect in the Victorian High Country
Weather conditions in the high country can change very quickly. Temperatures can drop dramatically. A nice balmy day can become cold and wet within minutes. Snow is also possible at any time of year and often cold clear nights bring on warm sunny days.
All this adds to the hiking adventures in the Victorian High Country where Mother Nature creates its magic and shows off her power.
Hence, why it’s so important to have the right clothing for all weather conditions at any time of year.
How to get to Merrijig
Merrijig is just under 3 hours drive North East of Melbourne, approximately 210km. You can leave your car parked at our pick up point at the Merrijig Motor Inn for the duration of the hiking tour.
Vline offers scheduled services from Melbourne to Mansfield. Click HERE to see the services they offer. From Mansfield, Merrijig is only 20km, 15 minute drive by a taxi.
If you are staying in Mansfield and don’t have a vehicle, let us know in advance and we will arrange transport for you to the briefing session. We can also pick you up on the morning of the tour, but please note that the pick up time would be approximately half hour earlier to what’s specified on the tour itinerary on our website and we need to be notified at least couple of days in advance.
There is various accommodation available in and around Merrijig with the Merrijig Motor Inn offering good rates to our clients. Just mention that you are one of High Country Hiking Tours participants.
Our briefing sessions and tour pick ups are at the Merrijig Motor Inn making it a handy place to stay.
If you can’t find anything suitable in Merrijig, there are many options to choose from in Mansfield from caravan parks to luxury B&Bs.
Toilet while on the track – what to do when nature calls and there is no toilet? We dig a hole in the ground. We carry a compact shovel that is available to you at all times. All solid human waste must be deposited in a hole 10-15cm deep and at least 100m from water, camp and tracks. Toilet paper must be either buried or carried out.
Shopping – if you need to do any last minute shopping whether it’s for food, clothing or equipment, Mansfield has number of specialty shops and couple of supermarkets. The Merrijig Motor Inn has a small shop with snacks and some basic food items.
Briefing sessions for multi day tours take place at the Merrijig Motor Inn on the evening prior to the start of the tour at 7:00pm sharp. This is where we distribute all the equipment, to give you the opportunity to pack the night before the tour. We talk about the tour, its itinerary and what to expect. We discuss any possible hazards, emergency strategies and evacuation. It’s also your opportunity to obtain answers to any questions you might have and to voice any concerns. This is also where you get to meet your guide and your fellow hikers. It’s very important that you attend the briefing session. There will not be time in the morning on the day of the tour to sort out equipment and pack your backpack. If you are running late to the briefing session, please let us know as soon as you can. If, for any reason you are unable to make it to the briefing session, please let us know as soon as possible, so that we can make other arrangements. Call Romana on +61 407 827 833 Briefing sessions for one day tours are conducted on the morning of the tour, prior to starting the hike.
Ultraviolet radiation – the air is thinner and cleaner on a mountain top, therefore UV is stronger in the mountains. Ultraviolet radiation exposure can lead to sunburn, premature skin ageing and skin cancer, as well as causing eye damage, so it’s really important that hikers protect their skin and eyes at altitude. Sunscreen and sunglasses should be in an easy to reach spot in your backpack.