Tram­pers: don’t trip the ul­tra­light fan­tas­tic

Sunday Star-Times - - NEWS - JEN­NIFER EDER

Res­cue teams pre­par­ing for sum­mer are warn­ing tram­pers to be wary of ‘‘min­i­mal­ism’’ and ‘‘ultra-light’’ fads.

Land Search and Res­cue (LandSAR) teams res­cue sim­i­lar num­bers of Ki­wis and tourists dur­ing sum­mer, and about 90 cent are un­der-pre­pared for the con­di­tions.

LandSAR Marl­bor­ough track­ing team mem­ber Rhyan Ward­man said a new trend in hik­ing was to carry as lit­tle gear as pos­si­ble, and for that gear to be ex­tra light.

‘‘Tech­nol­ogy is ad­vanc­ing and there is gear and sleep­ing bags that are re­ally light, but peo­ple need to keep that in con­text with the con­di­tions; know­ing what the weather is go­ing to do and pre­par­ing for the what-ifs,’’ Ward­man said.

‘‘If you’ve got gear that’s not sturdy and can’t han­dle the el­e­ments, and then the weather changes and it’s not a light driz­zle, it’s neg­a­tive de­grees Cel­sius and it’s snow­ing, and it’s not just a stream cross­ing, it’s a tor­rent, your show­er­proof jacket isn’t go­ing to cut it.

‘‘It’s a fad. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its place, but it’s a risk when it makes you un­der­pre­pared.’’

Ex­pe­ri­enced hiker Chris Taylor said while he was ‘‘ob­sessed’’ with high-tech gear, ‘‘ul­tra­lighters’’

had packs weigh­ing less than 4.5 kilo­grams. He said his typ­i­cally weighed 5kg and he’d never go out with less than 4.5kg.

‘‘The more money you put into it, the bet­ter quality you get, so the lighter the weight. A $400 jacket ver­sus a $1000 jacket – the ex­pen­sive one feels like it’s made of noth­ing but it has the same abil­ity to keep the wa­ter off as the thicker, heav­ier one.

‘‘So the ques­tion be­comes, how much money are you pre­pared to spend to get down to the weight you want?’’

So­cial me­dia played a role in the rise of the ul­tra­light trend, Taylor said.

‘‘Peo­ple see some­one on In­sta­gram hik­ing up a moun­tain and want to fol­low them, but they don’t have the same knowl­edge. That’s some­thing money can’t buy, un­for­tu­nately.’’

Sea­soned tram­per Chris Taylor says the ul­tra­light fad of pack­ing extremely lightly must be bal­anced with the need for ap­pro­pri­ate food and quality gear.

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