Post TA Gear Review

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Wednesday, 4 March 2015
Final Gear Review

After completing Te Araroa I believe I have given my gear a thorough test in a wide range of conditions.

On the whole I was very happy with my gear choices, even after looking over the gear other people were using I do not recall a single occurrence when I thought “I wish I had that” when looking at other people’s gear. My base weight ended up at 6,564 grams. From my original list I removed my umbrella (too windy), 1 L water bottle, and Kindle (not reading much).

To see my full TA Gear List please go here

For a review of everything click on the titles links below

Review – Pack – Zpacks Arc Blast 60l

Review -Tent – Zpacks Solo Hexamid

Review – Groundsheet – Window Insulation Film

Review – Sleeping Bag – Zpacks 5’9” Medium Width 900 Water Repellent Down

Review – Mattress – Thermarest Neo Air XLite Womens

Review – Pillow – Exped UL size M

Review- Hiking Poles – Black Diamond Pro Trek Women.  

Review – Shoes – Innov8 Rocklite 295

Review – Shoes – Solomon XA Pro 3D Trail Running Shoes

Review – Rain Jacket – Zpacks Cubin Fibre Challenger Jacket

Review – Rain Pants – ZPacks Cubin Fibre Challenger Pants

Review – Rain Gloves – ZPacks Cubin Fibre Challenger Rain Mitts

Review – Rain Skirt – Black Rubbish Sack

Review – Down Jacket – Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer Womens

Review – Top – Icebreaker Merino GT Flash Long Sleeved Half Zip

Review – Thermal Top – Express Long Sleeve Half Zip 

Review – Socks – Ice Breaker Hike+ Lite Mini Merino

Review – Shorts – Colombia (model unknown)

Review – Undies – Icebreaker Merino Siren

Review – Bra – Icebreaker Merino Sprite Racerback

Review – Gaiters – Dirty Girl

Review – Stove – MSR Pocket Rocket

Review – Pot – Evernew Titanium 900ml

Review – Spoon – Toaks Titanium Short Handle

Review – Cup – Vargo Titanium Travel Mug 450ml

Review – Drybags – Zpacks Cubin Fibre size Medium

Review – Food Bag – Zpacks Cubin Fibre Roll Top Blast Food Bag

Review – Water Filter – Sawyer Mini

Review – Water bottles – 2 x Platypus 500ml with sports top and Platypus 2 litre with normal top

Review – Torch – Petzl Elite + Headtorch

Review – Phone – Samsung S3 Mini and Applications

Review – Camera – Panasonic Lumix TS5 Waterproof and Shockproof





Review – Camera Mount – Generic Mountain Bike Handlebar Camera Mount


    1. Anonymous5 March 2015 at 22:01 please tell us more about your plastic bag method for inflating your NeoAir mattress?
    2. Restless Kiwi: Walking the Te Araroa Trail 5 March 2015 at 22:22 Preparation. I cut a hole in the bottom corner of a kitchen tidy sack. I then put a rubber band (wound a couple of times until it is firm) over the mattress valve. I pull the hole in the plastic bag over the opened mattress valve and pull the rubber band over the plastic bag to hold it in place.
      Filling Process. Open the top of the plastic bag and flap to fill the bag full of air then pull the top together. Keeping the top together with one hand I then use my arm and the other hand to squeeze the air trapped in the bag into the mattress. Repeat until the mattress is fully inflated. I overinflated slightly as by the time I removed the plastic bag and tightened the valve it was now at the perfect pressure for me.
    3. Anonymous6 March 2015 at 14:18 sounds like a great idea..thanks. I will try it with my new Neo Air. I have really enjoyed your whole blog..and your posts re gear and stats….
    4. Anonymous10 March 2015 at 07:51 Thanks a LOT for your inspiring, encouraging and helpful blog! (Especially as TA-wiki doesn’t work for some reason, hopefully this is only temporarily technical problem and will be fixed soon.)
      I’m preparing for 2015-16 season, so some questions… I have been reading lots of TA-material but it hasn’t helped. I wish you have time and patience 🙂
      1. Could you clarify about your Livon8-shoes and this glue-thing, I didn’t get it: is it your recommendation that it is wise to add glue already when taking the shoes into use, before any tiny holes? That glue works as an extra protect layer on the shoe on those parts that don’t have any extra cover? I’ve never used this kind of glue to repair my shoes, so I have no idea how what will work.
      2. And as I don’t know of Inov-8 roclite shoes: many NZ-people who do long-distance, use this 295 model, right? Last summer I walked JMT with Salomon XA Pro 3D, liked them a lot, but as you said, that terrain is totally different from NZ. (In Finland where I live, the stores don’t have Inov-shoes, so I have to order on-line. It’s possible to return, but not compare them easily. I will test one pair on a short hike at home, but then the terrain is different from AT, so I’ll only know it there. I’m planning to try to hitchhike a lot when it only roads and have customized innersoles as I tend to get knee problems at some point.)
      3. One more about shoes: you have any kind of ideas what might be the places where a tramper should be ready to get new shoes? Or usually gets? Shoe sellers keep saying that paddings of running shoes start get bad after 500 km, but in practice I guess most people will run about 1000 km.
      It definitely depends on the shoe brand, your individual way of walking, load and sheer good luck, I know… So buying the shoes beforehand and then sending them to hostel/post office weeks in advance sounds like a risky puzzle to me.
      If the timing of mailing isn’t completely successful, I guess it’s a good chance that bigger towns (over 15 000 pop) will sell those shoes, as the brand is popular. As far as I have understood, many of the common re-supply places at SI are also famous tourist destinations, so they will sell hiker gear. Though the price will be higher than in Wellington, I guess. And there is always this question of the right size…
      4.About clothes: You told you did well almost without rain pants when hiking. My journey will take longer, a month at least, I estimate. At mid-late March shorts won’t do, when it rains? Just wondering if I could still take my worn rain pants or do I need to buy new one. If they can be needed for a couple of weeks, new pair is ok.
      You used your other pair of long paints only for sleeping? Not needed at days, when hiking? (I saw that item at your gear list, not on this site.)
      Is it so that you highly recommend a down jacket? I’m quite warm-blooded person and I’m wondering if is needed. Last summer in JMT I did it well in the late evenings/nights with short undershirt, fleece and wind/rain poof jacket, when most people wore this Mount Hood kind of jacket.
      5. About water purifying: if all taken together, was it necessary to purify about 1/3 of all your water consumption or less? I know it takes 10 mins of boiling to kill giardia, so all the risky water needs to be purified. I won’t be boiling my foods/teas that long…
      I’m wondering is it worth the grams and money to buy some sort of purifier or can I stick to iodine tablets or aquamira (I’ve understood that both/either can be bought in hikers stores). I don’t mind the taste of iodine and in Finland I don’t need a purifier, so after this hike that item can be worthless for me.
      Thanks a lot!
    5. Restless Kiwi: Walking the Te Araroa Trail 13 March 2015 at 10:12 Hi. I am sitting in an airport lounge waiting for my next flight so more than happy to answer your questions.
      On the shoe glue I put a thin layer on the mesh upper when the shoe is brand new. This seems to be enough to stop the abraison without affecting flexibility. Use the photos as I guide to where I put it.
      There were not many on the trail wearing Innov8 shoes as not many people have heard of them (very few kiwis on the trail) however in NZ adventure racing and trail running they are popular and have a good reputation.
      You can buy trail shoes in all cities (except Brooks Cascadia) but be aware prices in NZ are very expensive. Most people used 2-3 pairs of shoes. I would recommend buy 2 pairs where they are cheaper overseas and budget for needing a possible 3rd brought in NZ.
      If your worn rain pants are still waterproof then they should be fine. While I only wore mine once I would never consider not taking them as we can get cold snaps anytime of year and if you are going to be walking in March in the south island you will probably get some bad weather. It is more for their windproof qualities to keep you warm.
      I never wore trousers sleeping. I prefer au natural to let the bag do the work unless it is really cold. I wore my shorts all except one day on Tongariro Crossing but I was very lucky with the weather missing all the cold fronts. I carried a pair of trousers mainly for in camp and towns and a pair of thermal trousers which I never used but once again would not consider dropping. I have experienced too many cold snaps in summer to reduce this item. You could just use thermals if you dont mind tight trousers in towns.
      Down Jacket for me is a strong recommendation. I met some hardy people that had several layers on and were still wishing for a down jacket a few times. That being said as a hardy Fin you know what keeps you warm. Factor temperatures just below freezing but with significant additional windchill as it is nearly always windy. There is nothing between Antarctica and NZ with a southerly wind!
      For water filtering Aquamira or Iodine is fine and several TA trampers used this. Most of the North Island needs filtering as it goes through more farmed areas and higher population areas. Most of the south island is purer unpolluted water and doesnt need filtering.
      I hope this helps with your planning
    6. Anonymous14 March 2015 at 02:32 Wonderful, thanks a lot! This helps!
      I’d also like to ask that as it often will be windy, would you also perhaps recommend light wind-proof jacket that is not (at least not much) rain-proof? It seems to me that you didn’t have such a thing with you. Was it (usually) warm enough with long-sleeved base layer?
      My goretex-jacket protects agains wind well, but it is still aimed for rain. I don’t know how well it would last if used a lot, just for wind protection (especially shoulder parts, when carrying heavy backpack).
    7. Restless Kiwi: Walking the Te Araroa Trail 14 March 2015 at 10:22 It is often windy but not as frequently cold windy that you need to worry about wearing out your jacket. The issue will likely be getting too hot in a heavy jacket as once the wind is blocked it is not too cold most of the time.
      I used my raincoat as wind protection and adding up how frequently it was probably equivalent to 5 full days.
    8. somecampingstoves 12 November 2015 at 11:20 Great gear list review.
    9. Anonymous20 January 2016 at 08:40 I’m considering the ZPacks Challenger Rain Jacket (and maybe pants) for my upcoming PCT thru hike and am undecided on which size to order. I an unsure if the size medium will accommodate my down UL parka. What size did you choose and were you happy with that size?Thanks!
    10. Restless Kiwi: Walking the Te Araroa Trail 25 January 2016 at 23:16DeleteHi, sorry for delay in reply. Hi. To give an indication of size I am 165cm 65kg. The Medium Jacket was loose enough for me to put all my layers underneath and still not be tight. The only place the jacket was tight was the hips but this was below the lower edge of my down jacket so still not a problem.
    11. Prez 20 November 2016 at 11:21 This comment has been removed by the author.
    12. Prez 20 November 2016 at 11:23 Hi,thank you for your inspiring writings, and this gear review !
      Do you think the Zpacks Duplex’s size could be a problem in NZ ? It is larger than the hexamid, so I wonder if the Duplex could be set up in the narrow camps in forests I have seen in photos.
    13. Restless Kiwi: Walking the Te Araroa Trail 20 November 2016 at 20:12 Hi. The bigger size should not be a problem. I like camping in trees so some of the places in my photos where it looks tight for the tent are my choice and there were other options. There are only a few cases where the bush is tight but it is very seldon you will not find a good camp spot, you may just have to walk another km or two to find one. It is a great tent.
    14. jessie roy 28 February 2017 at 19:04 Really Amazing product for this price. Have a look.
      hiking backpack Poncho Shop11 August 2017 at 00:14This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    15. Karen 27 October 2017 at 12:46 Hi Kirstine – thanks for leaving so much detail in your blog. I have referred to it many times in doing my own prep. One question about your groundsheet – what did you do to stop your second one from blowing away? I have a Duplex tent which I have just put up in my back yard for the first time this morining. It is a palace, and as light as a feather. I am not sure what is going to stop the wind from getting underneath it though and blowing it away. I guess I will find out in time. Based on what you did, I also have got some 3M window insulation film but haven’t been able to figure out how to secure it. Thanks in advance. -Karen
    16. Restless Kiwi: Walking the Te Araroa Trail 28 October 2017 at 01:47 Hi Karen. I am glad you have found this blog helpful.
      For the ground sheet at each corner I folded it over and put a small piece of duct tape over the fold then used a hole punch to put a small hole. In one of these reinforced corners I tied a small bit of string and attached this to the corner guy line of my tent so it would not disappear into the distance with the wind. When I rolled up my tent I would fold the tent into thirds length wise then bring the ground sheet over it and then roll it up. This made it easier when setting the tent up as the ground sheet was already in place under the tent. When it was really windy I would put tent pegs in the groundsheet corner holes until the tent was up and stuff inside so the groundsheet did not blow around. Hope this helps.
    17. Karen 29 October 2017 at 11:54 Thanks Kirstine for the explanation. It’s hard to believe that something as light as the polycro could be durable enough to function as a groundsheet/footprint.
      Your blog has been fabulously helpful to the extent that my strategy for selecting gear has been to see what you did and then copy (more or less). Unfortunately though I haven’t been able to replicate your base weight. I will review everything again but I am not sure I will identify anything that I can leave behind. I fully expect that this will change though soon after starting. We shall see. I think there will be as many people starting on the same day as me as you met on your entire trip.
    18. Restless Kiwi: Walking the Te Araroa Trail 30 October 2017 at 14:44Hi Karen. Feel free to message me on facebook if you need any more advice.

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