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Pack Hiking - Why It Should Be Top Of Your 2023 To-Do List

Research continues to show how beneficial being immersed in nature is for our body, mind, and spirit. To walk among the giant trees of the mountain ash, be in awe of the landscape, hear the birdsong in the first light of day, and feel a greater sense of peace as you walk among the trees. As we become so in tune with our surroundings on a pack hike, we rise with the sun and rest with the sunset, the cycles we’ve fallen away from come back to restore our balance once more.


Great Ocean Walk - Pack hikers walk the coastal headland towards Cape Otway Lighthouse


Perhaps you are looking for more adventure in 2023. Ready to step out of the comfort of cabin-based nature exploration and level up on your adventure game? Head for the hills carrying only what you need for a few days in the name of experience and self-fulfilling euphoria.


There is a growing community of ‘pack hikers’ – the super keen and reasonably fit that gather up lightweight supplies- everything from cookware to sleeping mats and tents that weigh as minimal as possible and off into the wilderness they wander. It’s not aimlessly though. Often there is a destination in mind- a campsite in which they unravel the lightweight tent, set up their minimal impact gear, and soak up the remote wonderland… and sometimes, it's just to hit reset from our modern lives, and feeling burnt-out, to get away from the urbanization of our society and reconnect with nature for her therapeutic powers.


Research continues to show how beneficial being immersed in nature is for our body, mind, and spirit. To walk among the giant trees of the mountain ash, be in awe of the landscape, hear the birdsong in the first light of day, and feel a greater sense of peace as you walk among the trees. As we become so in tune with our surroundings on a pack hike, we rise with the sun and rest with the sunset, the cycles we’ve fallen away from come back to restore our balance once more.


Just 2 hours in nature can yield positive effects for up to 2 weeks, so imagine then what 2- 3 days immersed in nature on a pack hike could do...


Alpine Hike from Wallace's Hut to Cope Hut, Shan walks with a guest whos happy snapping photographs


So, what is pack hiking?

Pack hiking is exactly as it sounds. It involves the participant hiking a distance, carrying their supplies in a backpack to sleep overnight in the wilderness. Whilst it may sound a little daunting, the weight of the pack makes all the difference to the experience.


What it is not, is an army boot camp whereby you carry 40kg of weights running up a beach arms locked with your comrades. Long gone are the days of heavy canvas packs and heavy gear required to go bush.


A pack hike, depending on the gear available, and the pack itself should only weigh approx. 14-18kg. Never more than 30% of your body weight. This can vary depending on the supplies you carry, the amount of water you need to carry, and other contributing factors such as how long you intend to head bush for, whether you sleep in a tent or a bivvy and what type of food you will pack in.


Breakfast at Boroughs Hut, Alpine Hike.


Why do I need to add pack hiking to my 2023 to–do list?


Challenge yourself

Pack hiking is one of the most empowering experiences that we can challenge ourselves with. There are varying grades of hikes, and therefore varying levels of difficulties in which we can continue to grow and develop skills in outdoor adventuring. A pack hike experience will test your mental and physical limits. It will make you dig deep and sit with the array of emotions that arise when you are faced with obstacles and essentially overcome these.


Think creatively

As walking is an autonomous activity, we needn’t consider too much about the way in which we hike. We pay attention to the rise and fall of the path, inclines, and obstacles in front of our feet; however, this happens mostly on a subconscious and more physical level, allowing space for our minds to consider things from a unique perspective, psychologically. This is because we are activating both hemispheres of our brains when we hike. We can think more creatively, we can take things in from different views, and gain a broader understanding of the nature of the mind and where we may have been stuck.


Gain Confidence

The elation, the pure joy of achieving a goal, reaching a destination, or completing a weekend pack hike is the best confidence boost you can get. The feelings of self-efficacy are intrinsic, they lay within you and no external validation is required – although all your friends will be jealous of your wild glow from within. There’s a reason that all these people continue to do it- myself included.


Explore new places

Often in our modern society, we are so busy trying to get from point A to point B that we forget to soak up the experience of exploring new places- to enjoy the journey. Pack hiking allows us to slow down and experience the rewards of exploring off-the-path places that the masses in their cars and caravans can’t reach. To experience walking through diverging landscapes and into an oasis waiting for the well-deserved foot traveler.

Pack Hiker takes a rest on a giant granite boulder looking towards his end destination- Wilsons Prom Lighthouse


Heath benefits

It’s about that time of year when everyone is hitting the reset button on their health for the new year. The festive season is behind us and return-to-work vibes are running high, with our metabolism a little bit sluggish from the feasts, there is no better time to hit the trails. Hiking is an incredible cardiovascular exercise hitting the mountain trails with stairs or inclines will provide a great strength workout too. A day hike with pack weight will provide a great workout and an overnight adventure will utilise every muscle in your body – even the little ones you didn’t know you had.


Hiking will boost your metabolism and support your immune function and energy levels while reducing your stress and anxiety levels – add a backpack and you’ve got yourself a wilderness therapy session that will leave you more confident, empowered, and inspired to do it more.


Connection to land

When we walk in nature we develop our connection with the land, with the cycles, and deepen the connection within ourselves. We feel into our physical body more and in doing so, get out of our headspace and the small mind that ruminates on our problems. Nature provides an expansive perspective and in connecting with our lands, seas, and waterways we are aware of the problems that our modern world creates and in turn, can become part of the solution. We deepen our care factor and start to drive awareness in our everyday lives to care for the environment. An awareness of the biocentric relationship we hold with nature.


What gear do you need to pack hike?

Like any camping trip, there are certain items that make life more enjoyable. A large consideration for pack hiking however is the weight of such items. Over our years of experience (and carrying horribly heavy and cheap packs at the start), we’ve found a balance between lightweight and quality gear that lasts more than one trip.


Our guided pack hikes supply clients with all the gear (minus a sleeping bag) that they need for the experience, including all meals/snacks but below is a brief indication of what you’ll need to buy, hire or borrow from your adventure-loving mates.


1. Tent/shelter

2. Sleeping bag/mats

3. Backpack

4. Cookware/water filtration

5. Food/ snacks

6. Supplies: headlamps, navigation, EPIRB, first aid

7. Clothing/ footwear

8. Incidentals; toilet paper, sanitiser, wet wipes, toothbrush/toilet paper, zip lock bags

9. Dry bags


By no means a comprehensive list but each of these items needs to be considered for weight, functionality, and necessity. The bonus of booking a hike with us, we supply all the gear and send you a comprehensive pack list for your trip.


What we carry for a 3-day hike for 2 of us, each has 2-3: water bladders and we average 14kg + 2-3 kgs when guiding


Where can you pack hike?

The possibilities are endless. Where you pack a hike depends largely on what sort of experience you want to have. Do you want to witness the most majestic mountain ranges in the Alps? Or perhaps hike rugged coastal trails and sleep atop cliffs, listening to the waves crash below? In Victoria alone, there is a diverse range of hiking experiences that can test even the most experienced hiker. There are easy-graded hikes ideal for cutting your teeth on an overnight pack hike experience.


Recently I heard Wilson’s Promontory referred to as the Jewel in Victoria’s Hiking crown and I couldn’t agree more. The Prom offers the perfect location for both first-timers and experienced hikers with a range of overnight hikes on the Southern Section alone of varying lengths, grades, and multi-night offerings (There’s a wilder Northern Prom that is for experienced navigators only). There is nothing that comes close to witnessing the sunrise as you dip in the cool waters of Little Waterloo bay, or whale watching, sipping a local pinot noir from the comfort of the couch at the Lighthouse cottages. A trip to the Prom wouldn’t be complete without a sunrise/sunset hike to Mt Oberon to witness the beauty of nature of the prehistoric landscape.


I am perhaps biased, but as a proud Victorian, our multi-day hikes are diverse as they are beautiful. While the Prom is a popular destination, the 110km Great Ocean walk is something else. With the coastal road a popular choice for tourists, I highly recommend pack hiking even just a section of this magnificent walk. With cliff-top sites to soothe the senses and rainforest walks that provide cool relief in the warmer months.


From The Grampians and the Great West Walks to the Alpine hike-in camps, there is plenty to explore.

The question you should ask yourself is, ‘where to first?’


A pack hike experience is such an empowering way to level up, test your limits, and build self-efficacy.

If the last few years have you in a little funk, and you're looking for new ways to develop healthy mental and physical strength and resilience, then you need to a Pack hike to your 2023 to-do list!


Holistic Hikes offer guided pack hikes, ideal for beginners. We supply all the lightweight gear so you can experience the thrill without the investment. But if you're still keen to go alone, then read below just a few important things to know before you go. Read more here



Need to know before you go


Check park closures or warnings

Make sure you stay across any weather warnings or park closures as things can change on a daily basis.

Many Parks throughout the east coast of Australia have been affected by floods so make sure you check before you head off. Always let someone know your plans and carry emergency devices with you – do not rely on reception as it is minimal if at all in remote locations.


Ensure any camps or permits are obtained before you go

Many hike-in camps require a booking and or permits to enter the Parks. In peak times SEP- APR these can be booked out 6 months or more in advance.


Leave no trace

Remember, whatever you pack in must be packed out. This includes all rubbish, tea bags, and food scraps. Many of our wildlife in these areas will be attracted to food left behind and as it's not their natural diet can create digestion issues and dependency/annoyance as they will seek food from others.


Little or no reception

This is ideal if you want a digital detox, just be aware not to rely on your mobile for service or emergencies.



For Parks Information in each state, see below


VICTORIA

TASMANIA

NSW

SA


ACT

QLD

NT

WA



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