The definitive Otter trail pack list
Hiking the Otter trail is an awesome experience which shows off some of South Africa's most beautiful and rugged coastline. It is also a bit of a toughie, and, having hiked it twice in the past year have overpacked, learnt from my mistake (an extra kg is a lot when hiking 45km), and perfected my hiking list.
This pack comes in at between 12 and 14 kilograms wet and will be the envy of all the hikers you hike with. Don't advertise how light your pack is or you'll be co-opted into carrying other people's wine.
- A hiking backpack with a rain shell
- Lightweight sleeping bag
- Add a thermal inner in cooler weather.
- 2.5 liter water bladder
- This is enough water to get you from one hut to the next without having to refill. On the fourth day it's not a bad idea to refill at the Bloukraans, just make sure you go upriver quite a bit.
- A flashlight or headlamp
- A rain poncho
- Mosquito repellent stick
- A notebook
- I like to write, this may not be for you.
- Reading material
- I also like to read.
- Big plastic bag
- For floating your pack across the Bloukraans during high tide.
- Toilet paper
- Each hut has a toilet with toilet paper, but you never know.
- A light towel
- Inflatable pillow
- Get that good sleep.
- Floppy, wide brimmed hat
- Long sleeve hiking shirt
- Hanging long sleeves helps with sun protection, as well as bugs (especially ticks and mosquitoes). I much prefer having long sleeves to wearing sunscreen which isn't as effective and leaves me feeling greasy.
- Long hiking pants
- Same as with the shirt, long pants prevent sunburn and bug bites. Make sure to choose a light, technical fabric which keeps you cool and dry.
- 4 pairs of socks
- Fresh socks every day is quite nice. You may be tempted to bring only 2 pairs and rinse them, but there is a good chance they may not be dry in the morning.
- 4 pairs of underwear
- Instead of getting in-and-out of swimming shorts, just swim in your underwear. I prefer high elastase fabrics like Bear underwear uses. They dry really fast as well.
- Thermal long sleeve shirt
- This is for wearing at camp after showering in the evenings and to sleep in if it's cool. This can also be worn under your hiking shirt if it's cold.
- Thermal long pants
- Same as above.
- Hiking boots
- It's tempting to use trail running shoes instead of hiking boots, but with a bit pack I've seen multiple people twist their ankles as they aren't used to the extra weight.
- Body wash
- This should be something bio-friendly as the trail isn't plumbed.
- Face cream
- Magnesium supplement
- This is great to soothe your muscles after a day hiking. I prefer the effervescent ones.
- Just in case.
- A facecloth
- I use this while hiking to wipe the sweat away. I run hot.
- Gas burner
- FireMaple is awesome.
- 2 cans of gas
- A pot (800ml should do it)
- A spork
- Thermal mug
- I got this awesome Stanley cup from my sister for Christmas. It works as a normal cup but also lets me take my coffee on the trail.
- Coffee making equipment
- I'm a moka pot guy. Some people swear by Aeropress. Your choice.
- A small tube of dishwashing liquid
- Preferably something bio-friendly as the trail isn't plumbed.
- A small sponge
- 4 packs of instant oats
- 4 packs of ramen
- This is a great and quick lunch. While not entirely healthy it provide salt and carbs is very tasty. If you can only find the small packs, get 2 for each lunch.
- 4 packs of dehydrated meals
- MamaAlles is also perfect for this. I have never had hike food as good, wholesome, or nutritious as this. I highly recommend them as they're extraordinarily light and will fill you up.
- You'll be in a salt deficit. This is an important one.
- Coffee & tea
- I don't know how you like your hot drinks. I like mine black and regularly.
- 500g of salt & vinegar roast chickpeas
- Trust me on this one. They will be heaven on the trail and a shot of protein to boot. Corn nibs are not bad and will also give you the salty satisfaction...but chickpeas tho.
- 500g of nuts
- I like cashews, which happen to be expensive. Treat yo'self.
- 4 energy bars
- A lil booster snack on the go. Rush bars are awesome. If they're not available, Jungle Oats bar will do.
- Cookies of some description
- For having with coffee. Ginger nuts are a personal favourite.
You may be tempted to bring more food than this. Don't. This is more than enough to keep you well fed and happy whilst keeping your weight low.
Have fun, and hike safe!