How I Survived My First Overnight Hike

How I Survived My First Overnight Hike

This is a follow up to my blog post Branching Out: A new (to me) type of camping. You may wish to read that post if you haven’t already to get an idea of my thoughts and plans in the lead up to this adventure.

So I’ve got this backpack bigger than my entire torso, a hiking stove smaller than my fist and a vague plan of where my first adventure will be. Luckily I’m not alone either. I’ve got four mates who are keen to give this thing a go; all inspired to take only minimal supplies along, keen to only eat what they can hunt. Only two of us have proper hiking backpacks, but that all changes when they see how awesome my pack is and everybody raids Gumtree (Australia’s biggest online marketplace for those not in the know) to get their own.


I pack my bags the night before our journey, keeping light weight in mind. Here’s what goes in:

Food: >Moroccan Tuna Cous Cous meal >tinned salmon and pasta meal >small portion of pancake mix for breakfast >Packet 2 minute noodles >200ml UHT milk (for coffee) >instant coffee for one cup >1 apple >500g trail mix >2 teabags >1 sachet cup-a-soup

Bedding & Clothing: >Compact 5 degree (celcius) sleeping bag >Self inflating mattress >Thermal pants >Waterproof insulated jacket >Spare underwear >Beanie

Everything Else: >Machete >Survival knife >Fork >Teaspoon >Matches >Enamel cup >Compact hikers pot & pan >Hiking stove >480g gas for stove >2 glowsticks >Ridge Ryder Lantern & batteries >Gopro, clamp mount, head mount & spare batteries >Compact camera & spare batteries >iPhone & backup battery >3.9 litres of drinking water >shopping bags for rubbish >150g insect repellent >A compass


A last minute ditch of equipment occurred in the morning before we departed as I could not believe how bloody heavy this thing was! A spare pair of socks, 30 metres of rope, a 600ml bottle of water and the kitchen sink (yes, a folding kitchen sink) didn’t make the final cut. After about 15 minutes of walking I had adjusted straps, got my balance and the weight of the pack didn’t look like it would be such an issue after all. I had planned a route out the back of the area I grew up, about 11km in length 5km the first day and 6km the next. There was no specified trail to follow, it would be a mix of vehicle tracks and straight through the bush to get us where we needed to go. I had a compass and an iPhone with a start, middle and finish point set into it but I have a pretty good internal man-compass and we followed our noses most of the way.


We marched from 10am til 2pm and covered our distance to camp. That meant plenty of time just lounging about and building shelters. I was happy to just build a frame of sticks and lay a bunch of branches over the top, the others were keen to put in a lot more effort and build platforms out of logs right up off the ground just for the fun of it. It took Dylon about 3 hours to build his head height platform; but it was pretty awesome. As dinner time rolled around it was apparent that I was the only one who had thought of light weight hiking food as the canned stews, spam and even a family sized steak and kidney pie came out! No wonder everyone’s bags were so heavy! Everyone except me was roughin it pretty hard in the cooking stakes though, one canned stew fell in the fire, one entire coffee went in the fire and spam steaks were cooked in the tin from the steak and kidney pie…


I slept like an absolute champion that night! No millipedes in my eye sockets, no swaying hammock to make me seasick. Just the gentle breeze and the smell of the pine forest. As we set foot back on track to home we were all rather relieved that we had eaten most of our food and used most of our water. Such light packs! Despite the lighter load, the balance of weight in the pack seemed to be causing me pain in the shoulders that I couldn’t put a stop to. Then the blisters came….an unfamiliar burning feeling on the soles of my feet. None of us wanted to stop for fear of not being able to get back up again!


The Aftermath:

Well, I thought I would carry far too much gear on my first trip and not use half of it. It’s a good thing I ditched the kitchen sink because I wouldn’t have used that! Otherwise I made use of everything I took except for a small tarp (which I will certainly use next time). Unfortunately I didn’t carry enough water to be self sufficient. I had to boil a litre of creek water to keep me going. At least I came close but there’s another 1kg of water I have to carry next time. I don’t think I’ll be buying a tent in a hurry, I didn’t mind sleeping out in the open. Of course that’ll probably change the first time I run into bad weather.

I’m looking forward to doing it again!


Alex Garner

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  1. Larry Ledford
    May 01, 00:06 Reply
    Reminds of the time three of us teens were quail hunting and one of my friends shot a quail, cleaned it, built a fire, cooked and ate it on the spot. I sat quietly, watched and did not partake. Too much Daniel Boone for me.
  2. Mark
    May 01, 07:38 Reply
    Haha nice adventure there mate. How heavy was the pack when you left? I had 20kgs on my back doing the Cape to Cape and I sympathise with the shoulder pain and blisters.
    • Alex Garner
      May 01, 16:26 Reply
      Haha thanks man! I unfortunately don't have any scales at home but I reckon it would have been around the 15kg mark. One of the other guys with 6 litres of water and all the canned stews would have been 20kg easy. How many kilometres did you do before you started blistering? I've never had problems with blisters before! Especially not on the bottom of my feet!
      • Mark
        May 01, 18:28 Reply
        My feet were still pretty bad after the Oxfam walk but it wasn't until the end of the first day they started to get bad again. Luckily I could get some relief on the beach section. Any more long hikes planned?
        • Alex Garner
          May 03, 13:41 Reply
          Nothing planned yet mate, but I will certainly like to do a few more one nighters before maybe stepping it up to a couple of nights! How about yourself?
          • Mark
            May 10, 11:27
            Got a big trip planned for a few weeks but staying in accommodation. Later in the winter I want to tackle the Kep Track but need to sort out logistics before I do that one.
          • Alex Garner
            May 10, 20:04
            That sounds epic mate! I just had to look up KEP track cos I'd heard the name mentioned but didn't know anything about it. Looks like a great hike! Not too long but still can't see myself being able to carry enough stuff to support myself more than 1 night yet.
  3. James
    May 01, 08:30 Reply
    mate, where did you hike to? or not wanting to disclose? cheers
    • Alex Garner
      May 01, 16:21 Reply
      We were dropped off just out of Jarrahdale James, and hiked from there back to my parents house in Byford where I had left a vehicle to get us home again. So no real hiking trail just a heap of vehicle tracks and a bit of cutting through the bush!
  4. Carlos
    May 02, 09:25 Reply
    Nice blog...and nice story telling!!! You should try the Bibbulmun track... Plenty of different tracks conditions to suit beginners to pros... Also the world of bush hiking can yield some very good and light equipment that makes your 4wd camping experience even better... Don't worry about over packing everyone does it... You never know the day you don't pack it is the day you need it!!!
    • Alex Garner
      May 03, 13:36 Reply
      Thanks Carlos! I would love to do a few sections of the Bibbulmun here and there, maybe even attempt to hike the entire track in sections over a number of years :p
  5. Emiel
    May 07, 06:01 Reply
    love the platform Dylan built !
    • Alex Garner
      May 10, 19:56 Reply
      I know! Haha, he put enough work into building it! The rest of us were too knackered to commit to such exertion.
  6. aaron crane
    May 08, 15:18 Reply
    Love the blogs! Nice work mate and you gotta be glad the weather was good! Would love to come on a adventure like that!
    • Alex Garner
      May 10, 19:55 Reply
      Thanks a bunch Aaron :) Yeah I'll be carrying a fly sheet to knock up a tent or something if the weather looks dicey. Or sleeping in the huts on Bibbulmun track. It's serious good fun, looking forward to going again for sure!
  7. Paul Carr
    June 10, 11:11 Reply
    My wife and I are just getting into overnight backpacking here in the U.S. and are loving it. We did a 10.5 mile (~17km ?) hike this last weekend in the Ozark Mountains and were both carrying way too much weight in gear and food. I think that's tough a lesson that everyone learns at least once. As far as the water goes; a lightweight water filter like the ones by Sawyer pays for itself in weight savings when compared to water. A hammock is also a decent sleeping option if trees are plentiful. I'm enjoying the bog and the Youtube Channel so far, keep it up. Things like this help inspire me to get out, do more, and teach myself new lessons.
    • Alex Garner
      June 10, 21:49 Reply
      Good to hear Paul! I've heard and seen a bit about the Ozarks, did you have as good a time as we did? I agree about the weight issue, I totally expected myself to carry too much gear the first time. Something I'd have to learn by. A water filter is certainly on the cards, not sure about the hammock as I got seasick trying to spend a night in the hammock once :p Glad you like the blog and videos, I'll do a hiking video sometime which you might like. Enjoy getting out there mate!

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