Both you & your group’s safety can be jeopardised by inappropriate clothing, footwear and equipment. In an emergency, it may take hours to evacuate a sick or injured person. Warmth, weather protection, water (or access to it) and first aid is vital. In general, always take the following…

What do I carry when hiking and bushwalking
  • Solid walking boots
    Good grip, worn-in & comfortable. Sneakers have little grip and can be slippery
  • ¾ length waterproof rain jacket with hood
    Showerproof spray jackets & quilted parkas are not waterproof & create a real danger of hypothermia (lowering of core body temperature to dangerous levels)
  • Warm jumper of wool or polyester fleece
    Cotton shirts (while great in summer) & windcheaters have minimal insulation when wet & retain water. Wool and polyester provide greater protection from heat loss in cool conditions
  • Shorts or loose, comfortable wool/synthetic pants
    Jeans are not suitable as they are cold & heavy when wet
  • Wide brimmed sunhat & sunscreen
    Think about your ears, face and neck Sunglasses with strap
    Be sun smart!
  • Woollen beanie & gloves
    If you have to stop in the bush, you WILL get cold
  • Wrist watch
    Someone needs to keep track of the time!
  • Map & Compass
    Carried by someone who knows how to use them
  • Mobile Phone/communication system
    Will your mobile phone work? Telstra phones have the best range in the bush, but not everywhere. You may consider other communication systems for more remote areas
  • Water, minimum 2 litres
    This is per person, per day. Also consider how much extra you’ll need for meals
  • Food
    For short walks; nutritious snacks & a piece of fruit. All day walks; take the same plus lunch & perhaps a thermos or fuel stove for a hot drink
  • Medical information & contact details
    Details need to include person’s name, address, date of birth and contact details, rele vant medical history and records of medications currently taken/ medical management plans to follow, and an emergency contact while on the walk
  • Personal medications
    Clearly identified. Tell your leader where you keep it, why & when you use it
  • First aid / Emergency kit
    Per person: sunscreen, bandaids, space blanket, cigarette lighter, 2x roller bandage, 1x triangular bandage, blister protection, and 5 metres Venetian blind cord (or similar)
  • Group first aid kit
    Go for an outdoor/adventure kit, and get some accredited training on how to use it
  • A whistle on a neck cord
    3 blasts for the lost, 1 for rescuer
  • Small torch
    Take spare batteries, always!
  • A quality day pack
    Comfortable harness & padded hip strap
  • Shelter from the elements
    Your group may need to get out of the weather. Carrying a tarp, hootchie or emergency blanket
  • Optional extras
    Thermal top & bottom, waterproof over-trousers.
    Gaiters (depending on terrain, but useful in grassy or prickly conditions to protect your lower legs), camera (with spare batteries), thermos, sit-on foam mat
Tips on packing a backpack for hiking

On overnight & extended bushwalks…

Image: There are 2 different methods for keeping your gear dry… Waterproof things in separate bags. Or, stick everything into a plastic pack liner, inside your pack. With food, discard packaging and repack in lightweight containers. Be careful not to crush your food!

Consider also carrying the following…

  • Good quality backpack
    Needs to be AT LEAST 65 litres, and ideally, load from the top with an adjustable harness with padded hip belt
  • Sleeping bag
    Warm enough for the environment, small enough to carry. A -5 degrees or 3 season C com- fort rated bag, with a hood, is adequate for all South Australian conditions
    It could save your life. A simple way to do this… pull the bag out of its’ cover, stick a garbage bag inside the cover. Stuff the sleeping bag inside the garbage bag, inside the cover, push all air out and tie off the neck
  • Inner sheet
    Keeps your sleeping bag clean and adds a little warmth
  • Sleeping mat
    Thermal insulation is the main purpose of a sleeping mat, and no bushwalker should be without one. Foam cell mats or thin, lightweight inflatable mats are ideal
  • Tent/Shelter
    Light enough to carry, tough enough to cope, big enough to fit in/under
  • Thermal top & bottom
    These are lightweight, warm (even when wet). No excuse not to carry!
  • Waterproof pants
    Great for around camp, really good if cold, wet or windy
  • A little extra food
    An extra meal, a couple of extra packets of soup, or some extra chocolate can be that difference between going hungry, and staying happy
  • Stove & fuel
    There are lots of groovy lightweight fuel stoves available in different sizes, weights and complexities. Whatever stove you choose to use, make sure you know how it works, and how to fix it. BEFORE you leave. Trangias are an excellent lightweight & simple methylated spirits fuel stove. Carry fuel in a secure bottle, store little bits inside the stove when carrying. Cut the end off a wooden spoon to fit, and put biodegradable detergent in a film canister. To waterproof matches, store in film canisters (tear off the flints) inside your stove. Oh, and pack 2 of them.
  • Entertainment
    A small book on local flora & fauna, a pack of cards, a hackey sac or similar can add to a trip
Disclaimer to Guide to Better Bushwalking

A Guide to Better Bushwalking: Disclaimer

Bushwalking Leadership SA

Bushwalking Leadership South Australia, in putting this information together, does in no way suggest that this is the ultimate guide and STRONGLY recommends anyone interested in bushwalking to educate themselves in the dangers involved with this activity.

Bushwalking Leadership SA STRONGLY advocates first aid training and recognised outdoor leadership training before leading groups of any sort of bushwalking.

This information is intended as a prompt or introduction to some of the basics of enjoyable bushwalking.

National Parks/Government Trails

Trails are provided for your enjoyment and should only be used in accordance with the Code. Trail users must be adequately prepared and obtain relevant information and maps. The trail conditions may vary from time to time, and trail users are advised to check weather conditions prior to leaving. Persons should use caution at all times when using trails in South Australia.


This information was originally published in 2004. View credits.

Bushwalking Leadership SA