57 signs you might be obsessed with hiking, backpacking or bushwalking.

Get teased by friends and family that you are obsessed with hiking?

Can't resist an outdoor goods sale just in case you find a new bit of gear?

Spend time at your day job dreaming of your next trip?

Don't understand why anyone would stay in a five star hotel when they could be sleeping in a tent or tarp?

Frank recently joined the forums at Trailspace.com and he stumbled across a thread titled:

You know when you are a backpacker when:

and it got him thinking that maybe HE is obsessed with the idea of the next hike or bushwalk. On continued examination he decided that being obsessed with such thoughts is a healthy pursuit and he was particularly reassured there are many others (particularly in this U.S. forum) who think the same way!

So in this post we summarise some of the great comments on the Trailspace.com forum and invite you to add your own answer to this question in the comments section below:

You know when you are a backpacker, multi-day hiker, bushwalker, tramper or treker (phew, one word to mean the same thing would be great) when:

1. During the winter, most of your internet browsing history contains new places to backpack, new gear, etc.

2. Your wife tells you to buy the bigger tent because if you don't stop ordering new gear we are going to have to live in it.

3. You pack your stuff in boxes to move, and there are more boxes labelled "gear" than there are labelled "kitchen"

4. You insist on taking the stairs at work and when you get to the top, you stop for a snack break

5. Your truck payment is late because there was a sale at REI/ Mountain Designs/ Paddy Pallin.

6. You close your eyes at night and still see a white blaze/ yellow triangle/ track sign.

7. You're always saying..."I just wanted to see if that way was quicker".

8. You have calluses on your shoulders.

Picture by mbiskoping / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

9. You tell the clerk at Goodwill / the Op Shop they should have a synthetic and wool section.

10. You cook spaghetti noodles and then dehydrate them. Same with beans.

11. When not out backpacking you waste time on internet forums talking about it.

12. You realize that you think the people who don't backpack are just a little....weird....

13. You randomly organise a carpool for the 6 hour drive to MEC / a track and back just because

14. There's an MSR pot gripper on top of your stove at home

15. There's a car under 5 feet of snow in the driveway because you unscrewed the licence plate to make a brake on your winter sled

16. All your socks are expedition weight merino wool

17. You use your 90L pack to carry the groceries

18. You sleep on a thermarest

19. Your keychain is a Swiss army knife/fox40/flint combo on a biner/ climbing loop

20. Your homepage is Trailspace.com/ Bushwalk Tasmania

21. You name your sleeping bags (yes you can come with me this time, Hayden McWeatherfordshiredam IV)

22. You wonder if the meal you are eating can be dehydrated effectively...

23. You are given the weird look when you try to explain to your co-workers how you ended up burning your hand when your homemade Pepsi stove exploded..

24. You see a hailstorm as a unique opportunity to test your tent.

25. You know you are a climber or backcountry skier, when it's -40, your friends say let's camp out, and you don't hesitate to grab your gear and head for the door.

26. When you visit relatives for the holidays, you camp in the backyard

27. You sleep in your sleeping bag because you just can't get comfy under bed covers

28. You never stay in motels when travelling, but stay in the woods/bush nearby

29. You cook on your camp stove at home, because that’s the only cook set you have

30. When you go hiking for the weekend, you don't want to go back to work on Monday

31. You learn edible plants to save weight in your pack.

32. You test your new sleeping bag in your room with the windows open, during winter...And maybe the fan blowing on you...

33. You never stow your gear, it always stays mostly packed, accessible & ready to go at a moments notice.

34. When you partake in a spirited debate about boots. ....and tents in hurricanes.

35. You ask questions no one can answer like: How do you get snail slime off a tent.

36. You hike all day just to cook over a beer can cause that is the real test of your stove making skills.

37. You check on your two packs at least once a week. You don't want them gaining weight when your not around...

38. You enjoy eating whatever the hell you want guilt free with a beautiful view and nobody to disturb you.

39. When your friends call or e-mail for recommendations for equipment (and you give them 5 equipment options for every question).

40. When you can outfit at least two of your friends completely so they can go on a trip with you.
Photo by canadianveggie - he loves his backpack / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

41. When you have to sneak new equipment past your spouse into the house.

42. When you've memorized, to the 1/10th of an ounce, the weight of all your equipment.

43. When you can recite the URLs of your favourite cottage gear manufacturers when you are asked for recommendations on the trail, as well as prices and a general summary of the user reviews from backpackgeartest.

44. When you can bring two extra stoves, two shelters, two extra pads and random rain ponchos to the trailhead/ start of the trip , because you know someone will forget something.

45. When your bear canister has more miles on it than your car.

46. You evaluate prospective spouses based on their gear holdings. Mine had an original North Face Oval Intention, dubbed "the Bim-Bam Room" (yes, we name our tents). Love at first sight...

47. You keep energy bars and bottled water in your car...just in case

48. You wear a rain jacket on a sunny day JUST IN CASE

49. You pass my the cooking section in Wal/K-Mart and double take cuz you could have SWORN you saw an MSR pot

50. You get excited when you have no dinner plans so you can use your cook set

51. You're the only one in 10 miles that's happy when the power goes out in winter

52. You ignore your boss's emails to click on *30% off sale at REI.com/ Mountain Designs*

53. You think about your next hike during you current one

54. Your dream job is testing gear.

55. Most of your recipes will work on or off the trail/track, and the approval process of new recipes includes trying it out on trail

56. When your back at home and you say to yourself....."I think there's half a snickers bar in my pack."

57. You can accurately guess the weight of "trimmable" stuff from a pack

Have we missed anything? Drop us a comment and add your ideas to the list, we would love to read them!

Trailspace.com is a great community for backpackers, hikers and anyone who loves the outdoors. Drop by, look around and join like Frank did. There are many like minded people there!

Related Posts

Larry, our resident gear junkie's list from The South Coast Track
5 features we don't want in a new backpack
Best one person tent? You decide
The Spirituality of Bushwalking - great post by Grant
Our Hiking Blog goes car camping - definitely NOT lightweight!

Continue Reading ....

Camp Hosting? Cockle Creek - Tasmania - Volunteer Opportunities for summer 2009/10

Looking for two weeks camp hosting in Southern Tasmania?

Happy to volunteer as a campsite host at Cockle Creek?

Like the idea of free accommodation in return for working with the Parks and Wildlife Service?

The Parks and Wildlife Service in Tasmania are seeking Campground Hosts for two week stints at Cockle Creek in Southern Tasmania.

View Larger Map

Cockle Creek is well known by bushwalkers who are completing (or starting) the South Coast Track. This tiny "village" is 2 hours drive from Hobart and is the furthest point you can drive south in Australia.

This is a great way to have a free "holiday" and to experience some of Tasmania's beautiful wilderness areas. For example, it is a relatively easy walk into the start of the South Coast Track to visit spots such as Coal Bluff or even further on to South Cape Rivulet. It would also be a bit of fun being there to meet hikers who had finished the South Coast Track and check out their condition after this 6- 10 day walk!

Larry Hamilton, in his excellent series on the South Coast Track, shared a couple of pictures with us.

The beach at Cockle Creek

The Cockle Creek bridge

As you can see, it is a very pretty place and quite isolated. Looks like a great spot for a couple of weeks in Tasmania!

This is the link to the full information provided by Parks and Wildlife Service in Tasmania (including contact details of where to apply)

Related Posts
The South Coast Track - Solo Winter Trip report by Larry Hamilton - Part One
South Coast Track - Part Two by Larry Hamilton - Ironbound Ranges and Leeches
South Coast Track - Part Three by Larry Hamilton - Surprise Bay to Cockle Creek
Larry's Port Davey Trip Report- great reading
Gear List for Wilderness Bushwalking Trip - Larry Hamilton's excellent gear list
Stuck between Louisa and Faraway Creeks - Our adventure on the South Coast Track
Hiking the South Coast Track - our first (and last time)

Continue Reading ....

Best hiking gear for a multi day trip in Tasmania? A retrospective review

What is the best hiking gear for a wilderness adventure?

What gear do I need for a multi-day hike?

What is the best equipment (stove, coat, poncho, overpants, sleeping mat) for several days hiking?

In this guest post , Larry Hamilton (self confessed gear junkie) analyses his gear selection for a recent 10 day hike on Tasmania's South Coast Track. It is a follow up of a previous report about his gear for the Port Davey Track and is Part one of a two part "gear fest"

Introduction (and apology)
These gear notes have been included against the advice of my wife who believes it just indicates a tendency towards nerdishness about equipment, extremely embarrassing materialism and makes me look like an overgrown boy scout.

So if you aren't into gear choices stop reading now and if you are, don't let your partner read it.

Their chortles and guffaws are likely to be quite off putting!

I admit to being a bit of a gear freak and I enjoy the preparation for walks because it means a planning phase which holds its own pleasures and which provides an opportunity to think anew about what I like and what I need. This year for the South Coast Track I planned to take food for fourteen days and at just under a kilo of food per day that meant a fair proportion of my pack weight would be of food. As a result I planned to pare the rest of my gear down as much as I could.

From my experiences on the Port Davey Track last year in some appalling weather I ditched my goretex jacket and pants and a pair of goretex overmits. I replaced the jacket with a Montane Featherlite H2O jacket with substantially less bulk and weight.

I used this jacket and liked it but the DRW properties were quickly eroded in areas where my pack rubbed on the jacket such as over my shoulders where the straps rubbed and across my shoulders and across the small of my back. Because I predominantly had the jacket as a windproof barrier I wasn't too worried but I'll experiment in proofing the jacket again with a slightly different DRW treatment.

I believe that you inevitably end up getting pretty wet anyway from the bush, from wading through creeks and from wicking up sleeves, and down through neck openings so I expect to get wet on walks and am not concerned primarily about the level of waterproofness. So the only goretex items I took on this trip were my gaiters.

I replaced my goretex overpants with some Golite Whim pants again with a substantial reduction in both weight and bulk.

I didn't end up using the overpants which I took mainly as a windproof barrier for my legs rather than for their waterproofness but if the weather had been like it was last year they would have had substantial use.

I live in regional Western Australia and don't have an opportunity to see and try out exotic gear so I ordered a large pair over the phone and they were enormous on me so my sartorial elegance was really suspect with them on but with the advantage that I could get them on over my boots. I will probably purchase a smaller pair before my next walk. Despite the fact that they stayed in my pack for the trip I'd take them with me again.

I gave up on overmits and simply carried two sets of gloves; a fairly light pair of windstopper gloves to walk with and an pair of fleece gloves to use with a fleece beanie and my set of dry gear in camp.

It turned out not to be sufficiently cold enough to wear either pair and so these remained unused but I was pleased to carry them.

In Addition:
I took a pair of thermals for everyday use and used them only in camp. My recorded temperatures inside the tent on waking (at around 5.30am most mornings) varied from a brisk 4 degrees Celsius to a balmy 13 degrees Celsius.

On a whim I took also a tarp/poncho as I'd read positive reports about the use of these. I actually tried to use this as a poncho on the beach trek to New River and it took me half an hour of dancing around in drizzle along the beach trying to put it on. Stupidly I'd only tried this out at home with my wife to help me get it on.

I defy anyone on their own to successfully and quickly get into a poncho with a full pack in a reasonable breeze.

I must have looked a sight trying various ways to get it over my full (and fairly high) pack in a balanced way. I tried to put it over my head and then manouver it over my pack, fighting the wind's efforts to blow it back. I used one of my walking poles to try to get it in place and only managed to look stupid. I put it over my pack and then tried to get under everything, and put my pack on with the poncho already in place but only succeeded in getting tangled up. I eventually got it mostly sorted out albeit getting pretty wet in the process and it worked for the next couple of kilometres until I got to the boat crossing where I needed to take it off anyway.

I think that ponchos are only useful when walking with another person who can assist in arranging the poncho across the pack so that it drapes as intended.

On the one day that I holed up from some heavy rain I used the poncho as an additional tarp which gave me some added scope for movement outside of my tent in the rain but I wouldn't take it again. If I wanted additional tarp space (a luxury), I'd take a spinnaker tarp instead. So the poncho will be consigned to the growing pile of gear that I've tried and discarded.

Sleeping Mat
I ditched my self inflating mat (three quarter length) for a Thermarest Z Lite closed cell foam mat for a substantial savings in weight but an increase in bulk. My experimentation with this before starting the walk had revealed that my hips (I'm a side sleeper) compressed the foam enough to mean the insulation was insufficient and I got cold.

I always previously carried a small piece of closed cell foam as a seat in camp and as a foot pad for my three quarter length self inflating mat and I found that this was usefully employed under the Z lite in my hip region to provide the necessary insulation.

I disliked the added bulk of the Z lite inside my pack and found the lack of comfort when sleeping a frustration.

Sleeping mats are always a compromise but I've resolved to shell out for an Exped Downmat for winter trips in the future. I'll endure the additional weight in return for greater insulation and comfort.

I opted to change my stove system from my Triad titanium burner used last year and go for more convenience but extra weight by purchasing a Clickstand and using a standard Trangia burner.

I went for the heavier Trangia burner for two reasons. Firstly it enabled me to carry unused fuel in the burner as the cap has an o-ring. The second reason is because it has a simmer ring. I'm not sure why I think that this is an advantage because I never simmer and didn't on this trip but it came with me and was used only as a snuffer for the burner.

I like the Clickstand but was careful about packing it because I didn't want to bend the frame and render it useless. So I had to take a bit more care with packing than I'm used to. I normally get pretty violent in ramming gear into small spaces in my pack, particularly at the beginning of a trip when space is at a premium.

My MSR titanium pot came again with its home made pot cosy. I also took my favourite double-wall titanium mug rather than a lighter single wall one I sometimes use. Some luxury is worth it.

I took 1600ml of metho for my stove in a 1 litre MSR fuel bottle and a 600ml coke bottle. I always get too nervous about fuel use and ended up using just on a litre for the eleven days.

Additional Gear
This year I took a small pair of binoculars which I thought would be useful and provide me with another dimension of interest along the coast. I ended up using these very little and mostly only because they were there and because I didn't want to take them back unused. I wouldn't bother with the weight again on a walk.

I have a thing about leeches and some interesting experiences with them. During the year I engaged in some research and wanted to experiment on this trip with Pyrethrin (or Permethrin its synthetic equivalent) as it was reported to be very effective against leeches.

I'd considered DEET but had rejected that as being noxious to me and not as effective as Pyrethrin.

As I normally do I took salt but this time before starting I rinsed my walking pants, socks and gaiters in Permethrin shampoo intended for pets. I also took some Pyrethrin horse insecticide in a small spray bottle. I doubt that the shampoo wash made much of a difference as the constant soaking of my clothes would probably have rendered the wash useless after a short time.

This trip I didn't have much of a problem with leeches but the few I had a chance of having a go at shrivelled up with a touch of the Pyrethrin spray and unlike DEET, Pyrethrin doesn't affect fabric or plastics. So I'd take that again and leave the salt behind. Salt is always a problem because of its need for waterproof storage.

Many thanks to Larry for his excellent write up and review of his gear. We will post part two in the next few days where the rest of this self confessed "gear junkies" equipment for the trip is reviewed.

Related Posts
The South Coast Track - Solo Winter Trip report by Larry Hamilton - Part One
South Coast Track - Part Two by Larry Hamilton - Ironbound Ranges and Leeches
South Coast Track - Part Three by Larry Hamilton - Surprise Bay to Cockle Creek
Larry's Port Davey Trip Report- great reading
Gear List for Wilderness Bushwalking Trip - Larry Hamilton's excellent gear list
Stuck between Louisa and Faraway Creeks - Our adventure on the South Coast Track
Hiking the South Coast Track - our first (and last time)

Continue Reading ....

The Overland Track - Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair - a nice slow trip

Spring hiking in Tasmania? Will there be snow or just rain?

Hiking the Overland Track from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair?

A leisurely bushwalk on a World Heritage "Top 10 Hikes in the World"

We have just returned from a seven day, six night trip on the Overland Track in Tasmania. There were four of us in the party with the plan to take our time and enjoy any good spring weather we might get along the way. With typical Tasmanian weather variability we were blessed with some great sunny days and also snow, sleet and rain in various forms. All this was expected and we were well prepared for any conditions.

Why hike the Overland Track again you may ask? Because we LOVE it!

In this post we will just make a few comments and observations about the trip, as there are many other posts on Our Hiking Blog about hiking the Overland Track. Check out the links to them at the bottom of the page.

Heading up the Horse Track as an alternative to the big grunt up Marions. Perfect for someone with barthmophobia. It is still a bit of a "climb" but over a longer distance. Every time we do it it seems to get harder....

We were hoping for snow, in fact a lot of snow! It had snowed heavily a couple of weeks before and while there was some on the Cradle Plateau it was very slushy and soft. Above is Sue heading across the Horse "Track" towards the intersection with the Overland Track proper (where it intersects just before Kitchen Hut)

We had planned to take snow shoes (Yowies) but Frank ended up the only person carrying them as the snow was patchy and not forecast for the duration of the trip. They were OK in this section but because the snow was so soft and slushy they broke through to ground several times and it was quite difficult to get them out of the snow.

Heading across to Kitchen Hut (with Cradle Mountain in the background). The snow was particularly soft here as there was a lot of water running across the ground (under the snow)

The Overland Track was easy to find in the snow. We had fantastic weather on day one.

We left the Ronney Creek car park (the official start of the Overland Track) at 1pm. Slow as ever, and hindered by the snow, we reached Waterfall valley Hut at 7pm. Sunset (above from just before the Barn Bluff turnoff) was at 6:07 so we had quite a bit of walking with headlights in the dark.

Cooking dinner at Windemere Hut we were surprised to be the only party in the hut that night. We were lucky enough to get ABC radio reception here and were able to listen to the AFL football and hear our team win the game and make the Grand Final. We also had Pelion and Kia Ora huts to ourselves which was surprising (but nice for a change, we have been at Pelion Hut when it was at it's capacity of 60 people)

Of seven days hiking, we had two totally fine days. The rest was a variety of "weather". Pictured above is John heading down the track. Tasmania has had a significant amount of winter and spring rain and the track was quite wet in places.

At Pelion Gap and the Mt Ossa turnoff. That evening we discovered we had red faces from sunburn! Colin had left Pelion Hut early hoping to climb Mt Ossa. When he arrived it was covered in cloud and after waiting an hour decided to head on to Kia Ora. As he says, no use climbing a mountain if you can't see the view. We arrive in sunshine and a cloud free Ossa!

Sue heading down Pelion Gap towards Kia Ora Hut. Nice bit of snow here but not enough for snow shoes.

It was a "bit chilly" on a couple of days. Pictured above is Frank feeling the cold.

We had never been into Ferguson Falls (which are between Kia Ora and Bert Nichols Hut) and were lucky to have chosen a great time of the year as it was PUMPING! We could not believe the roar of the water nor the sheer volume coming over the waterfall. It was a great side trip.

Above is a great view of the Acropolis from Bert Nichols Hut. The new hut is an interesting addition to the Overland Track. There is a very long, funny and interesting post on Bushwalk Tasmania about the Hut development. (some people love it, others hate it- we can see both sides)

We completed the walk at Echo Point Hut as the jetty at Narcissus was under a metre of water due to the high level of Lake St Clair.

In conclusion, a few reflections on this walk may be useful for anyone planning a spring bushwalk on the Overland Track.
- the snow was wet and really soft. Travel time was slow and snow shoes unhelpful
- temperatures were never below freezing so the tracks were slushy and wet rather than icy as we had in our Winter Overland Track
- We took it easy and just went from hut to hut. It made for a very relaxing trip, leaving late (between 9 and 10 am) each day and arriving into the Hut most days between 2 and 4 pm. It was a great way to "do" the track.
- We saw 22 people in total for the whole seven days (and saw no one for 3 of the days). If you are experienced, well prepared and not too ambitious it may be a good time of the year to hike the Overland Track without the seasonal "crowds"
- we allowed 7 nights and 8 days in case the weather held us up (or if we wanted a side trip). Snow is very common in September and there had been a large dump two weeks before our trip.
- we ended coming out "early" and had a night at the Derwent Bridge Hotel. It was great and we really enjoyed the food and hospitality.

Related Posts
How to hike the Overland Track - our eBook on getting the trip done - 2009/10 update
Backpacking the Overland Track - a view from the States
Planning food for a multiday hike
Various Overland Track posts

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Bibbulmun Track - Advice and tips on this long distance hike

What is the best section of the Bibbulman Track to hike?

Do you need a tent?

What is the water supply like on this famous 1000km adventure from Kalamunda, a suburb in the hills on the outskirts of Perth, to the historic town of Albany on the south coast of Australia?

We received an email from Bruce asking several questions about the Bibbulman Track, and in this post, we share Dave Tomlinson's answers with other readers of "Our Hiking Blog".

Regular readers will remember Dave's excellent reports on the Bibbulman Track and The Great South West Walk.

We have split Bruce's email into questions and then Dave's answers.

My name is Bruce Bxxx and I was thinking about doing a hike on the Bibbulmun for the full month of December 2009. I am an experienced walker (Appalachian Trail Thru Hiker, trails in Tasmania, Argentina, Chile, Ireland, Scotland), though had a couple of questions I was wondering if I might bother you with.

Q: I understand Dec can be very hot on the Track...will I have problems finding water? I realize the shelters' tanks should probably have some. But was wondering I might endure some very dry spells with empty tanks. I'll probably start the morning off with 2 full litres in my pack.

A: December is summer time in Western Australia but it may not have the heat of February when I was on the track.
Dave's water carrier - note the tannin stain - no problems to drink

Please be assured that you'll have no problem with water.

The CALM (Conservation and Land Management) staff do a wonderful job maintaining the facilities and checking that tanks have adequate water. They are also supported by an army of volunteers along the entire track length. During my hike, a couple of the tanks had low water levels with a request to be conservative with it but it was never a problem. Because you can depend on water at every shelter only carry what you need to drink.

I consistently arrived at each campsite with only about 100m left in my bottle.

Carrying any more is pointless. Through the top of the northern section you can 'double-hut', which means you can refill halfway through the day and carry even less.

Q: If I walked from 2 Dec to 29 Dec...what would you recommend as being the best part? North to Mid? Mid to North? South to Mid or Mid to South? I probably only have enough time for 350 or so miles.

The question of which part to hike is a difficult one because it depends on the individual. Each section offers it's unique beauty and tranquility. There are a few highlights though and the most popular section for many is the area around Walpole because of the huge and iconic karri trees.

Karri Tree

The southern section has some magnificent coastal scenery although the hiking is more difficult in parts because of the sand dunes. There are some beautiful areas of Jarrah forest in the northern section and I loved the rugged Pingerup Plains.

To be honest, I really can't answer this question because it depends on what you prefer. I suggest you have a look at the track photos that I've uploaded onto the internet and see what inspires you. The link is: here to all my pictures .

Q: I'll probably carry a 3 lb tent.

A: At the time I hiked the track there was absolutely no need for a tent.

Frankland River campsite

This could well be different in spring time when many people hike to see the wild flowers. However, with December being the beginning of summer I would suggest you don't need it. So, unless you plan to camp between the shelters (where you won't have water)

I suggest you leave it behind. The shelters comfortably sleep at least 8 people.

Q: Could I get by with a sleeping bag rated to 10 degrees C or 45 degrees Farenheit?

A: The sleeping bag is an interesting question because I don't trust their ratings. Mine was rated at 5C and was only just adequate, especially in the southern section where it's cooler.

So, to be honest I don't think a bag rated at 10C would be warm enough.

For your comfort and peace of mind I'd suggest 5 deg C or even 0 deg C. Remember that the shelters are not fully enclosed. They are three-sided and although they are beautifully constructed and provide shelter from the prevailing winds, it can still be chilly at night.

Q: Any problems finding gas cannisters for stove (iso butyl mix)?

A: Providing your stove is a standard model, you won't have any problem finding gas canisters.
Each town that you pass through will have them in either the supermarket, general store or petrol station. I used the butane canisters with the threaded connection. Depending on the time of year and the section of track you are in, you may be able to use the fireplaces to cook but fire bans are often in place during the summer period.

Q: Think I would need a fleece?

A: Dave did not address this question but I would, note answer to sleeping bag question, it can get cold at night! (Frank)

There is also another great post by Dave on the blog titled - Bibbulman Track planning - it is well worth reading in conjunction with this post.

Related Posts:
Bibbulmun Track - Part One - A very long hike
Bibbulmun Track - Part Two - The Southern Section

The Official Site:
Bibbulmun Track - Trip Planning

Many thanks to Dave Tomlinson for his fantastic words and pictures for this post.

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