Next year, SA’s oldest, and most popular, hiking trail turns 50. I completed the Otter Trail for the first time last year, and it definitely won’t be the last. This is the gear I’ll pack again.
Also read: Win a trip on the Otter Trail for 12 people
1. Jetboil Minimo Cooking System
This integrated hiking stove has a one-litre pot capacity and it keeps food simmering, even over a low heat. An excellent buy for a solo hiker, it delivers a speedy four-minute boil time, but the best part is the coffee filter adaptor that fits perfectly into the system and doubles as a veggie steamer (if you’re a luxe hiker).
I used the Jetboil to boil up hot water for oats and coffee in the morning, it popped up popcorn in the afternoons (I just threw some seeds and a little olive oil into portion-sized ziplock packs) and then it carried couscous or noodles come dinner time. I also found that one canister was enough to cook and boil for two. It’s pricey, but if you’re an avid hiker you won’t regret this investment.
2. First Ascent 900 Amplify
This lightweight (less than one kilogram) sleeping bag packs up into a compact cylinder for easy carrying and has an impressive comfort rating for its small size of 2 degrees celsius. It differs form other bags in having elasticated stitching to minimize heat loss around hips and knees, so the bag grips a little tighter here, but it still gives you room when you need it. Barring the most extreme icy conditions, you’ll sleep soundly and comfortably in this hooded hiking bag. Just fluff it out as soon as you get to camp for the best loft and insulation.
3. Hi-Tec Lady Mons Jacket
You never know when it’s going to rain on the coast and it’s essential to pack a waterproof jacket. Although slightly heavy, this jacket is a great heavy duty and durable buy that really keeps the rain off. You’re guaranteed to stay dry with the taped seams, adjustable Velcro cuffs and the impressive waterhead of 5000mm, which is double the water-resistance of most tents on the market. Unlike some rain jackets out there, it also feels nice to wear on the skin, with a mesh inner that’s not scratchy. When not in use, this jacket folds neatly into its own pocket, making it a great hiking companion to keep stashed in your pack.
4. Coleman CXS+ 250 LED Headlamp
This headlamp’s new Kinesix feature makes it possible to change the lighting mode simply by swiping your hand in front of the sensor. The 250-lumen light also has battery-lock technology that disengages the electrical contacts so the power won’t drain away. The range is also really impressive with a 40 metre ability. A headlamp is pretty essential for making dinner and trips to the loo at night, but I also found having a lantern really handy.
5. Nite-ize Gear Ties
I loved having these nifty little ties to strap stuff to the outside of my bag. I used them to hang out the water shoes we used for river crossings and a wet towel to the outside of my bag to dry and even hung my mug from them for fast access on a coffee break. Endlessly useful to have.
6. Osprey Aura AG 65
This is probably one of the highest-tech backpacks around and it was a treat to have on the Otter Trail. The seamless mesh panel, which runs down the back and into the hip supports, forms an almost spring-loaded hip belt that snaps snugly around your waist before you even fasten the clip. This is Osprey’s Anti-Gravity suspension system, designed to hug your back and move as you do, while not obstructing ventilation. Combine this with hydration bladder support and an array of useful pockets and straps.
For peace of mind, all Osprey packs also come with a worldwide, lifetime guarantee. Personally, the capacity was a bit big for me as I ended up packing too much (next time I’m going to take a 40-litre backpack and whatever fits in can come along), but I could hardly fault this comfy pack.
8. Sea to Summit Day Bags
From R199, capeunionmart.co.za
I used about three of these bags in different sizes to keep my camera equipment and cell phone dry along the try. They are a decent price for the high quality bags and they certainly did the job of keeping everything perfectly dry, plus I use them on other travels now too.
9. Black Diamond Trail Sport 3 Trek Poles
R999 for two, rammountain.co.za
These drastically helped me to conserve energy and I used it as a lever to get up and over the steps on the trail. When not in use, the telescopic pole collapses easily and I strapped it down the side of my pack.
You can win these! Win 5 multi-day gear hiking essentials