Monday, January 13, 2014

The Seven Kilo Challenge Part 2

After working out a rough itinerary of where I'm planning to go in Java, I got together all the gear I wanted to take. You see I plan to go trekking, climb a few volcanos, and do some camping, so I won't just be staying in guesthouses the whole time.

My last trip to Java there were a few times when I was limited by my lack of outdoor equipment, this time I want to be more prepared. But it all has to meet the 7kg challenge.

So: what's on the list?

Sleeping bag, hammock, sleep sheet, cook set and stove, sleeping mat, mosquito net.

DSLR camera with 2 lenses, batteries, cards, card reader, battery charger, filters, tripod, camera bag

Clothes, towel, toiletries, warm jacket/vest

Computer, 2 hard drives, charger, spare battery, cords

Phone, Kindle, GoPro, cords

Backpack and wet weather gear

First things first: Backpack. A heavy bag will chew up anything from 2-5 kg, especially those with wheels. Heavy duty backpacks can also weigh upwards of 2kg empty. I want to be mobile, and I don't want my bag to be weighing me down.

I have an Osprey Talon 33L backpack that I bought for my last trip to Java in 2010. It weighs a mere 820g, is exceedingly comfortable to wear and it performed really well over 3 weeks of walking and bouncing around on public transport. I had concerns back then that it wouldn't be tough enough, but it's not showing much in the way of wear, so it's my go to bag for this trip. I may end up purchasing a slightly larger volume bag for subsequent trips, but for 2 months, this one will do the job just fine.

Wet weather gear for me is a poncho. A cheap plastic poncho and a waterproof bag protector has worked well for me through lots of tropical deluges. I won't say I always remained dry, but I survived. Being wet isn't the end of the world, as long as there are dry clothes and warmth at the end of the day. I'm also an umbrella fan, but it's not always practical when you need both your hands to scramble around tree roots and such on some of the jungle climbs I've done. Poncho 49g, Raincover 79g.

Camping stuff has been a tough one, because I'm trying to work out what the absolute minimum I need if I wish to camp halfway up a mountain somewhere. Although it's easy to carry a couple of days of pre cooked meal packages - we did that in Sumatra - it's awesome to have a hot cup of tea or noodles when you've been up before dawn to see a sunrise at 2800mASL. So the cooker stays in. Weight 383kg with the penny stove. I will probably purchase a small gas canister and stove element at a camping store in Java.

Some of the treks I'll do will require guides, and so it's possible to hire camping gear. But I've found that some Indonesian guides can attempt to be amorous when you're a single girl travelling solo, so it helps to keep your options open. I love my Hennessy Hammock, and as long as there's trees or a few posts or big rocks, it's possible to have my own personal space. It's also lighter than most tents, gets me off the ground and the creepy crawlies, and is water and insect proof. I really wished I'd had it on my last trip for some clandestine bush camping. Weight 947g with snakeskin cover.

Keeping warm when trekking at altitude in the tropics is really important. With a sleeping mat and space blanket under me, and a sleeping bag and silk sleep sheet, I'm prepared for most temperature variations. I'm still unsure about bringing the sleeping mat as it's one item I may not need to use at all, given I'll need to hire a tent for those treks without trees and can hire a mat as well. I can probably survive a night here and there without padding - we did it sleeping on those bamboo platforms climbing Fansipan - and I think the space blanket will keep me warm in the hammock, so it's likely that I can take that out of the kit. That's 292g saved.

I've also decided to ditch the mosquito net now I'm not going east to Nusa Tenggara. Malaria isn't really an issue on Java.

Sleeping bag. My 25 year old Macpac down bag, weighing 1.2kg, has been forsaken for a new kid on the block. A Sea to Summit Micro II 850 loft down sleeping bag. This is a spring/summer bag, and a much better option as it has features that my Macpac bag doesn't. Like being able to put your feet out to cool down, and zipping out into a duvet. If I was to combine this bag with the Macpac in future trips, I'd have 4 season capability. It only weighs 550g and compresses into a teeny tiny package.

Sleep sheet 127g Space blanket 48g. So far we have 3kg on my back.

Next time we talk electronics.


  1. I'm an utter shocker at packing light, no matter what I do all these books just magically appear. Plus the odd bottle of gin...

    1. The Kindle makes a huge difference for me - especially as there are so many classics I'm yet to read that are free in digital form. I'm also going with just a digital guidebook so that's gonna be interesting...I'm not fussed about duty free grog anymore, or any grog really. Must be getting old...

  2. I've been into hammock camping for the last year, and am totally hooked. I have just ordered the Hammock Bliss Sky Bed after sussing out what I am looking for in an ideal hammock. From all the reviews I've read I think this is going to be a great hammock!

    1. I've learnt they have their limitations though. Fantastic at sea level and when it's not too cold. Not great at altitude when there's limited attachment points and it's cold above 2000m ASL. Good luck with your new hammock.