I just spent four days in the bush over Easter trying to figure out how exactly I will be hiking on my journey. And a common theme arises when tying to make your own gear…mainly it is heavy.
Here are the 5 major self made gear for my four day hike (and the Lessons they taught me).
1. Pack frame
My pack frame was one of the first things I made. It seemed straight forward a few bits of wood put together and some straps. A pack frame would also give me the flexibility to make flax bags of any size depending on what gear I had to carry.
l. Make comfortable straps!!! (I know this is common sense but seriously when you have spent half a year weaving rope you really get sick of it).
The first night I went out to a DOC camp site 2 km of easy road walking and the straps I had woven instantly started cutting off important blood supply to my arms. But it was late, stormy and dark.
2. Balance your gear weight low and even around your hips.
The discomfort was worse as I walked and I shifted my pack around trying to make it bearable until finally the whole thing came apart breaking to pieces. Mostly mad I ended up making camp on the side of the road not even lasting 20 mins. Luckly the next morning I found a chopped down gum tree with the perfect size and shape for a frame and some long pieces of flax for thicker straps and ended up with a much better frame.
In terms of cooking I have two burners. A twig burner
made from tin cans
and a gas burner
made from a coke can.
Nothing you make is perfect the first time around.
Well my gas burner is very good and super small though its a little heavy on gas for my liking.
And the twig burner is good in theory using gasification it needs only a handful of sticks or leaves to cook a meal. But my design isn’t perfect so it will take a bit more tinkering to workout what I am doing wrong.
3. Eel trap
The eel trap is made of bamboo and is a dual purpose tool. Most of the time it will store my tools and cooking gear and sit at the top of my pack. But if I make camp by a stream or river it will catch my breakfast.
Use what is avaliable.
Willow beats bamboo hands down when it comes to making baskets. Just easier to work with but I never found a good source in Wellington so I settled for bamboo.
4. Fishing net
Another dual purpose bit of gear the fishing net is made of flax rope and will be used to catch fish by the sea sections of the trail and will be a hammock to sleep in the rest of the time. My sleeping blanket and fly are wrapped in the net and is tied to the frame as the first thing to come off for easy set up.
You can never have enough rope.
I never got to sleep in the hammock as it was too short and the sections of rope I made too thin broke under my weight instantly. So I ended up sleeping on the ground staring enviously at some hammock tenters down from me.
I am so sick of making rope.
Pre colonial Maori used to make simple cloaks from flax called pake. These were used as a basic shelter when sleeping outdoors.
No matter how much time and effort you put into something sometimes you have to compromise to achieve the larger goal.
Pake are heavy take a lot of flax and too big to pack nicely but too small to sleep in. It will take a tougher person then myself to give up my modern Shelter for the old school version. So sadly it will be left behind. Lots of tourist wanted photos with me though.
In general I am feeling confidant about using self made gear to hike. Each project though not perfect has given me a lesson on how to improve the next verison. Being mindful of the reasources around you gives you the freedom to make use of what you have instead of wishing for something you don’t. Adaptability and imagination are your strongest qualities when it comes to making stuff. With four months to go I still have a lot to over come but feel ready for the challenges ahead.