There are a lot of elements to think about when you’re about to head off on an overnight hike. Here’s what you need to do and bring to make sure your first (and every) overnight hike is succesful.
So you love a good hike – up and down a mountain, along a stretch of coastline or straight up bush bashing – but you’ve never taken it to the next level – overnight hiking.
An overnight hike takes a lot more preparation, supplies and determination than your average day hike. Forget the wrong thing and you could end up having a bit of a rough time.
We’ve created a guide to help you conquer your first overnight hike, so you can adventure safely and have a ripper time.
Hint! For more detailed and specific info on each point, follow the links!
1. Choose Where To Hike
Choosing where to hike can be tricky. There’s a tonne of elements at play that all need to be considered. Here are some questions you’ll need to answer before you head out.
How much do you have? Is this just a weekend trip, or something more extended? How long do you want to hike for and how long do you want to be at camp? How long does it take to get to the trailhead?
What time of year is it? What’s the season? And of course, what’s the weather going to be like?
Are you an avid and experienced hiker? Or are you just finding your hiking legs? Consider the length, terrain and state of the track as well as your own ability and experience.
Probably the most crucial factor. If it’s not close to where you live, well that becomes a whole other adventure in itself. My suggestion, stick close to home for your first hike. That way you’re closer to people and places you know if something goes haywire.
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2. Find a Hiking Buddy
If this is your first overnight hike, make sure you’ve got a few experienced crew heading out with you. A whole band of rookies out in the wild sounds like the opening scene to some B-grade thriller.
Go with people you know, trust and like. And preferably someone who has first aid experience. It could make all the difference.
3. Plan Your Meals
Unlike a day hike, you can’t just carry a drink bottle, stash a few muesli bars and deal with the hunger pains when you get home.
You’ve got to be strategic. You need food that’ll help you recharge after a long day of walking, but that doesn’t take up too much space in your pack, weigh you down or result in you carrying out heaps of rubbish.
Good nutrition is key – a few packets of 2 minute noodles isn’t going to cut it if you want to see this hike through.
The best way to have nutritious meals that’ll prepare you for a full day of activities, without carrying a whole pantry on your back is to dehydrate your meals. A dehydrater’s not just for fruit, oh no. You’ll be surprised at how many different things you can dehydrate.
If you don’t have access to a dehydrator you can purchase pre-dehydrated meals from camping stores.
Dried out bolognese ain’t your style? There’s a whole menu of goodies you can choose from for every meal.
4. Gather Your Gear
The main difference between a day hike and an overnight hike is the amount of gear you need to bring. From your sleeping set up to your kitchenware, there’s more to squeeze into your pack than you realise.
To make sure you don’t forget a thing, print and check off our overnight hike packing list. It includes everything you need, from your beanie to your compass and whistle, plus those optional things too (like choccy).
Not yet kitted up with all the camping goods? Wondering which sleeping mat will keep you warm and comfortable? Which headtorch is brightest for when nature calls in the middle of the night? Which hiking stove will cook your dehydrated dinner juuuust right?
Our gear page has heaps of reviews of the latest and greatest gear going round. Take a peek, you might just find your new favourite hiking pal.
Oh and one more thing, double check that all of your gear’s working before you head out. There’s nothing like cold miso soup on a frosty mountain.
6. Brush up on the Ethics of the Outdoors
The decisions you make while out in the bush, even on just a 24 hour trip, can have a bigger impact on the surrounding nature than you may realise.
There’s one major rule every Explorer should follow in the outdoors;
Leave no trace. This principle covers everything from hiking out your rubbish to sticking to the designated campsite.
The ethics of the outdoors are a need to know for anyone heading into the bush. Read up and inform your mates too.
7. Play it Safe
There’s always a risk that comes with heading into the bush for extended periods of time. But there are heaps of things you can do beforehand to make sure you have the safest trip possible (and keep your Mum happy too).