What to bring

What to bring on a walk

What to pack for a day walk:

Day walkers – Recommended equipment list

The South Coast Bushwalking Club recommends that all day walkers carry the following items.

Backpack – A comfortable, well-fitted, robust backpack is essential. Typically 25-30L size is suitable for the equipment list below. Expect to carry 5-7kg in a day pack.

Water – Minimum 2 litres per day, increase to 3 in hot weather.

  • Note in many areas local stream water is available and the leader will advise if suitable. It is recommended that purification tablets (available from walking shop) be carried to sterilize any water of concern.

Food - Sufficient food and snacks for the day.

  • Include some additional energy snacks in case of misadventure, late return or fatigue.

First aid kit - All walkers are required to provide their own personal first aid kit.

Walkers can be in remote areas and find they are many hours away from medical assistance. Therefore careful consideration is needed to ensure you have a properly stocked first aid kit with you based on your individual needs.

The SCBW cannot provide individual medical advice but based on experience a personal first aid kit may include the following items:

  • Wound care products for abrasions, cuts, scrapes e.g. band aids, gauze tape, saline solution.

  • Repellents or medications for the management of bites from leaches, ticks , ants, spiders e.g. Stingose, Bushman’s, antiseptic, antihistamines (non-drowsy).

  • Bandages/straps for strapping sprains, sore joints etc.

  • Snake bite bandage.

  • Blister management products e.g. band-aid blister block, Compeed.

  • Hydration tablets, salts, drink additives e.g. Hydrolyte.

  • For headache, pain, joint inflammation, paracetamol, ibuprofen.

  • Tweezers.

  • Personal specific medications and pharmaceuticals for your needs.

NB: If you rely on emergency medical aids, e.g. EpiPen, insulin, asthma inhaler, please carry these with you and discuss your support requirements with the walk leader when booking the walk.

Toiletries bag - Some useful items when nature calls!

  • Toilet tissue, hand sanitizer.

  • Etiquette calls for all waste to be taken out or buried, so a plastic trowel can be handy.

Survival bag - Minimum to include – space blanket, torch, whistle, waterproof matches.

NB: Torches need to be bright and spare batteries carried. Mobile phone torches are not desirable as they are easily dropped and have limited battery life.

Why: In case misadventure or slow progress causes a group to return after dusk.

Rain wear - Essential.

Note that superior Gore-Tex rainwear offers extra protection from the cold and wind as an additional thermal top layer.


  • Walking clothes - Layers are recommended using outdoor-specific microfibres.

o Layers are (1) base, (2) mid and (3) top, allowing additional warmth to be added when needed. Tip: Your top layer can be your Gore-Tex rainwear if need be.

o The SCBW does not recommend wearing COTTON base layers e.g.: T- shirts, jeans, tracksuits etc, as once damp they will chill the body.

  • Footwear - Suitable walking boots or shoes.

o Open type shoes and gym shoes are not recommended.

  • Hat & sun protection. Broad brimmed hat, not a baseball type, and remember the sunscreen.

  • Clothing for off-trail walking –

o Suitable walking fabrics that don’t tear/snag on undergrowth.

o Upper – Long sleeves and gloves.

o Lower - Long trousers. If wearing shorts, gaiters are highly recommended.

o Eye protection for off-trail walking. Although many walkers have sunglasses, it is recommended to carry alternative clear glasses to prevent eye stick injuries in shaded or overcast conditions.

Experience is most useful when we pass it on.

Our seasoned walkers offer some helpful suggestions and key learnings

  • Spare socks - Change your socks when damp. Nothing creates a blister as fast as a wet sock!

  • Hats - In hot weather the Legionnaires hat is useful to shade the back of the neck.

  • Safety pins – Useful for holding bandages in place, repairing clothes and packs.

  • 3-5 metres of nylon cord – Repair broken shoelace, repair pack straps, tie-rope for field first aid.

  • Wrap 1 metre of duct tape around your drink bottle – Can be peeled off your drink bottle to be used for strapping an injury, holding a broken boot together.

  • Cotton clothes are a 'no no' as when wet they never dry and chill you. Remember the old bushwalkers saying `Cotton Kills’.

  • Head torches are superior to hand torches as they allow hands-free walking and scrambling if need be.

  • Day packs if properly kitted out with gear in this list would be 25+ litres in size and 5-7 kg in weight. Packs the likes of hydration packs, bum bags and shoulder bags are not suitable for proper day walking with our club.

  • Pen knife – A mini multi-tool with a few basic tools only, not the 64-blade version.

For a robust discreet penknife the small `Spyderco’ is my choice.

Note: Rambo-type Bowie knives are definitely NOT needed as the SCBW won’t be asking you to kill lunch. Apart from being heavy, they are dangerous to you and the rest of us!

PDF of day pack list

What to pack for an overnight walk

  • As a general rule, your pack should weigh no more than 25% of your body weight. For females, approx between 12-18kg, and for males between 14-20kg, depending on duration of the walk, age and fitness level. Weight calculation should include 1-2 kilos for 1-2 liters of water (or more in some cases) that you may need to carry. Ask your walk leader for guidance.

  • Start by making sure you have all the items listed above as recommended for a day walk.

  • Ask your walk leader for a full gear list, as gear may vary depending on the length of the walk.

  • For more information, see the packing list and video on the page Packing for an overnight bushwalk by lotsafreshair.

Other ideas

The best way to sort out your packing is practice. The objective is to keep your pack as light as you can, and each walker will have slightly different weight priorities, according to what is most useful to them. Every walk will bring you new ideas.

  • What in your pack was useful? Is there some way you can make those useful things lighter? For example a well known member of our club doesn't see the point of carrying a full size toothbrush - he just takes half a one!

  • What was totally unnecessary? Do you really need to carry that third hard back novel?

  • What did others bring along that you might have used?

Packing like a pro

As you get more experienced, you will find yourself packing for the unique circumstances of the walk you are going on.

  • Tent - Are you camping on an exposed plateau or at a protected river camp site? Which tent will best suit the site?

  • Weather - What is the overnight temperature expected to fall to? Should you pack the winter or summer bag? Will you need a puffer jacket? If rain is expected, perhaps you should pack a fleece instead of a puffer jacket.

  • Camp shoes, waterproofed bag - Are you doing many river crossings or any swims with pack? How cold will it be at night? Will camp shoes be a good idea if your hiking shoes are wet?

  • Water - How much water will you need? How long until you come across water and how hot will the day be?

These are just a few of the considerations that will become second nature as your experience packing grows.