Your tramping equipment should always be clean and in good condition before you set out. If a vital piece of equipment should fail it could place you and your party in a dangerous situation. I always check all my gear at least two days before I leave, allowing time to get replacement equipment if necessary. I also try to take multiple items in case of failure, a second lighter adds very little to the weight of your pack, but could save your life. The following list is by no means comprehensive, but itís a list of equipment that I would consider taking on a multi-day tramp.
These come in various shapes and sizes, one of the main decisions is between side pockets and no side pockets. Packs without the extra space provided by side compartments generally allow for better arm movement, although I tend to prefer the ease of access that a side pocket gives. A pack should always feel comfortable as you will be carrying it for a good part of the day. Ideally they should be tested for comfort on day tramps prior to purchase Ė remember to pack them as if for a multi-day hike to simulate the extra weight.
Again multiple options apply here and the most suitable depends on the tramping you intend doing. Mid-winter tops tramping in the Southern Alps requires a completely different bag from a two-day hike on the Abel Tasman track at Christmas. Weight plays a big part of sleeping-bag choice, with the lighter options for a similar warmth costing a lot more, but you do pay for what you get.
Some form of cooking implement is required as itís best not to rely on there being a fire or dry wood at a hut. Again many variations exist, but go with what is light, affordable and easy to use. I tend to find something that cranks up quickly a bonus as an extra wait for that first cuppa at a hut always seems like an eternity!
If you have a gas canister cooker then a gas lantern may be a good option but candles are probably more atmospheric. Torches are handy especially for night-time trips to the long drop. Headlamps are great when you are the chef!
Something to get the logburner going if there is one. Iíve always struggled with matches/lighters and newspaper, the best fire starter Iíve come across is a fire-lighter called ???? which is sold in supermarkets in New Zealand. Apparently a piece of inner tube is good too as once lit itís pretty hard to extinguish and also burns slowly.
A series of pots and pans is always handy. I have a small three set, two pots and a frying pan which are light-weight and all fit neatly inside each other. A cutting board and sharp knife may be a good idea if you are taking in fresh meat and/or veggies.
Hard plastic plates and cups weigh practically nothing and last for ever. Thereís some great camping cutlery that slide together for ease of storage and packing.
An old 35mm film canister is really handy for a small amount of washing up detergent, and along with a scouring pad and tea-towel make the whole dish-washing process a lot easier.
Hopefully never used but should always be taken. A good kit should compromise of at least plasters (or blister cover), pain relief pills, anti-histamine and sunscreen.
These items have saved numerous lives on New Zealand tramping tracks
Youíve gotta know where youíre going! Topo maps are the best with 1:50,000 detail. You can get these on GPS units these days, but of course a GPS is never guaranteed to be in range and a minimal bush canopy can block out the satellite reception. You should always have a hard copy map with you.
Just in case you end up off the track, fog descends or a white-out occurs. Again a GPS could be used instead but does have its limitations.
Even if just for the occasional assistance a hiking stick is always handy. It can offer a bit of extra balance, support and enable you to strike out at a good rhythm with those swinging arms!
A Swiss army knife or something similar is ideal. A good one of these can get you out of a tricky situation, for example when the wine provider forgets to bring a bottle opener!