Let's talk about gear...
Firstly, navigating the gear buying maze is not as hard as everyone thinks. In this digital age, there are YouTube video reviews or other types of reviews of just about every piece of gear there is. You can get a good feel for a piece of gear before you buy it.
In the Byron Shire, we also have access to great gear shops if you prefer shopping the old fashioned way: Wild Earth www.wildearth.com.au in Burleigh Heads, Bunyips www.bunyips.com.au in Lismore & Byron Bay Camping & Disposals. The staff are usually very helpful. Currently financial members of Byron Hikers get discounts from these stores, as well as K2 in Brisbane.
Navigating the day hiking gear maze is easy. Mostly it's about the right shoes and backpack. If you're new to hiking, your best bet is to go to one of the shops mentioned above and try things on.
With backpacks, try them on full. They have a completely different feel when they're full and heavy to when they're empty and light. And you're always hiking with them full.
With shoes, try them on and if you can, walk downhill. This will tell you if they're big enough because shoes can feel tight when hiking downhill when your toes are rubbing against the front end. Also ensure that they have good grip. This is always an advantage - in any conditions.
Australian hiker Caro Ryan has some more tips here:
This one is the trickier one. Navigating the multi-day hiking gear maze can be overwhelming but we'll help you.
There are 5 essential items that you need to get right:
3. Sleeping bag
4. Sleeping mat
If you get those items right, you'll have a good experience.
Below are tips on how to get these items right. But before that, there is a global hiking movement towards ULTRALIGHT:
Americans are spearheading this movement, so a lot of the lightest gear is made by their 'cottage manufacturers'. This gear is good quality, very light and they will ship to Australia, however it's often expensive.
It's not necessary to buy this gear if you prefer to spend less. We'll provide tips to suit all sorts of budgets.
Firstly you need to know the core consideration criteria for each item:
For sleeping mats for example, they are: 1. Warmth / R-Value, 2. Dimensions, 3. Comfort, 4. Durability, 5. Weight, 6. Price.
While the consideration criteria for each item are universal, each person's consideration of what is most important is individual.
For example, adequate warmth, then comfort, then dimensions, then durability and then weight are my (Michelle, Byron Hikers Marketing Manager) order of priority of considerations when choosing a sleeping mat. However other people may be more price-conscious, while extreme ultra-lighters will always choose weight first.