Ever wondered how useful a multi-tool actually is for your adventure weekends?
We headed for an overnighter to the Grose Valley with the Brand Manager of Leatherman to find out…

Photography // Henry Brydon, Simon Hammer & Evan Blake
Videography // Borja

Camping is a game of trial and error, and every time you experiment you’ll learn and improve. It’s as simple as that. Ultralight backpacking and multi-functional gear is therefore a natural desire that stems from too many trips carrying too many things.

Teaming up with our friends at Leatherman Australia, we treated ourselves to a Thursday and Friday out of the office and disappeared into the enchanted Grose Valley in the heart of the Blue Mountains, known largely for it’s Blue Gum Forest.

Our Mission? Figure out just how useful a multi-tool really is for camping adventures.

The Grand Canyon

There are several entry points to the valley, and given it’s surrounded by towering sandstone cliffs you can be sure that they will all give your calves a major fright. We chose to enter via the Grand Canyon in the southern end near Blackheath (Neates Glen Car Park).

Having dropped one car off at our end destination (Pierce’s Pass) it was 10am by the time we descended into the valley from the car park. The well marked trail drops down towards middle earth through a spectacular canyon; it’s towering presence looming above as we continued deeper and deeper into it’s mystical abyss.

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Sub-tropical vegetation burst from the canyon floors and walls as the air cooled. Ferns, mosses and golden wattles sprang out in a bright array of greens. A sandstone tunnel even presented one section of complete darkness. Waterfalls large and small lined the path, and in some cases even passed over us as we plodded onwards.

Stepping stones always make me feel like i’m a kid in some kind of fantasy movie. The carved stones that perfectly weave through Greaves Creek are about as fantastical as i’ve ever stepped upon.

We stopped for lunch beside a waterfall and tucked into a tin of four-beans and some cheese and salami wraps. Hell yeah, the tool made it’s debut outing for the day.

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Rodriguez Pass

Whilst many day trippers will continue onto Evans Lookout (or vice versa), we were keeping an eye out for Rodriguez Pass, which shoots hikers North East into the remoteness of the Grose Valley. Other than lizards, bearded dragons and the occasional snake, we didn’t see another soul in the valley from here on in. God bless mid week hiking!

Please note: The Grand canyon track is very well looked after and can get very popular during weekends in the high season. It’s also recommended not to canyon or hike here if rain is predicted at any time during the day, as flash flooding is common and can be extremely dangerous.

On a few occasions during this stretch we wanted to see how far we had travelled and more importantly how far it was to camp. The Leatherman was a trusty aid for this too as we were able to use the measurement markings on the body to calculate this very accurately.

Rodriguez Pass is an entirely different track altogether, directing us via gut-tingling sections of descent that at times is separated by a life saving rail on one side, and certain death on the other. The occasional open valley views provide a break from the eucalyptus, and soon there is finally relief for the knees as the path flattens out.

 

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Acacia Flat Campground

Not long after, we passed a sign for Govett’s Leap Falls which if we’d had more time up our sleeves would have definitely side-tripped to for a swim. It would have added an additional couple of hours to the day so you should bare this mind if you’re planning on camping at Acacia Flat.

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Acacia Flat Campground is a beautiful spot. It’s a large grassy area nestled beneath towering Eucalyptus trees with a shallow river running nearby, so we grabbed a cool down and settled in for the evening. The tool came in handy several times here – we used the pliers to remove a thirsty leech from my foot, fixed a pair of sunglasses and adjusted a camera tripod screw using the screwdriver, and also used the scissors to prepare a bandage from the first aid kit for a nastily cut shin.

In camp we built a tripod to cook with, whittled a stick for meat, cut a tent line and hung up a lantern, and even used the blade to loosen soil for a ‘toilet hole’ as well as doubling up as a tent peg in the stubborn earth.

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I was genuinely impressed by the number of times it came in useful. We didn’t have enough time (or requirement) to build a shelter, but at that very moment in time I reckon I could have used the tool to build a fully functioning raft to sail the seven seas in.

Blue Gum Forest

On day 2 we plodded onwards through the almighty Blue Gum Forest, just as the flies began their unjustified vendetta upon us. As the sun rose higher the giant sandstone cliffs morphed through a stunning array of colours – it’s a place of jaw-dropping serenity and wilderness like nothing i’ve ever seen before in Australia.

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The morning also presented an opportunity to trial some other alternative uses of a Leatherman – did you know you could actually brush your teeth with the tool by clamping a cotton wool bud in the pliers? Most dentists wouldn’t feel you’d be giving your molars the attention they deserve, but a useful trick to have up your sleeve all the same. We also toasted bread and spread vegemite using only to the tool and even attempted some lacklustre male grooming using the ‘beard trimmer’ and ‘nasal hair plucker’.
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Please note: The walk here passes through some very remote areas with no visible track at times. At least one person in your group should have experience in off track walking and navigation.

The route was quite overgrown for the next few kilometers so ensure you’re prepared for a snake sighting (gaitors, first aid kit, eperb etc). We stumbled across a rather large red-belly black snake on the footpath and from then on stomped our feet as loud as we could like a troop of drunk backing dancers; we didn’t want to meet his larger, angrier cousin.

After a while the undulating path cut across the well flowing creek (keep your eyes peeled), presenting a perfect opportunity to refill our waters and tackle the challenging climb out of the valley and back to our car at Pierce’s pass. #sweatbox.

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The variety of uses of this tool is quite extraordinary – and we barely touched the sides in terms it’s survival capacity. You should check out these incredible stories of survival thanks purely to owning a Leatherman.  Coming in handy for navigation, eating, fixes, cooking, safety, navigation…and with Christmas round the corner, why not treat yourself!

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*update – took 1 week for my calves to recover

Highlights:

  • The Grand Canyon track
  • Govett’s Falls (if you have time)
  • The mighty Blue Gum Forest

Essential Gear

  • Tent/Hammock/Bivvy, sleeping bag
  • Cooking equipment (no fires allowed here)
  • Water filter or steripen (numerous opportunities to fill up but check water levels)
  • Good hiking shoes
  • First aid kit
  • Map, compass, e-perb

Activities

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Canyoning
  • Fishing

How to get here
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Skill Level

Intermediate to Advanced.

Whilst the start of the trail through the Grand Canyon is relatively straightforward (if not a little steep), the route becomes progressively more challenging and difficult to navigate. The climb out of the valley is also pretty steep and a good level of fitness is required.

Distance Covered

20km