The aim will be to do a fair bit of walking and backpacking while I’m in New Zealand. I’ve booked myself on the Milford Track and I’ll see about getting on a couple of the other “great walks” when I’m over there. I’ll also be doing plenty of other walks. So, a couple of “nice to have” pieces of kit strayed into the back of my mind.
1.) Keen Newport H2 Sandals:
Now, I do have a pair of these that I bought just after I came back from my trip to Venezuela. There were times in Venezuela when walking boots just weren’t the right thing to wear. A few rivers had to be crossed and there was extended periods of walking in extremely boggy ground with water up to your ankles. I had some leather sandals at the time for the job and they were all but trashed by the end of the two weeks (as were my walking boots). A couple of Americans in the group had these Keen sandals and I was very impressed with what I saw. A good sturdy design, they looked comfortable and they didn’t mind getting seriously wet. I thought to myself, “I’ll get a pair of those when I get back”. I had quite a game getting a pair though. There were a few online UK stores that sold them but I just couldn’t find any that stocked the size 8 I was after. In the end I took a chance on a pair of size 7s. Fortunately, they did fit OK and are quite comfortable although, maybe, too close fitting for any lengthy period of walking.
I’ve been reading a few articles about the Milford Track and I’ve come to a conclusion that it could be VERY wet going underfoot. Rain is almost guaranteed and, in heavier more persistent downpours, the track is prone to flooding. There’s a chance I could be wading through a fair amount of water on the trail. I really don’t want to trash my new pair of boots again but, at the same time, I’m not sure my current pair of Keen sandals are the right size for the job, especially as I may be wearing socks with them too (it was recommended to do this in Venezuela). So, I’ve decided to scour the internet once more to see if I can get a pair of size 8s. Just one UK online store did – Field & Trek – pair ordered.
Cost – £52.00
UPDATE: DON’T BUY ANYTHING FROM FIELD & TREK – Sandals were dispatched to my home address and, as I was at work, were supposedly left with a neighbour. No card had been left in my postbox but the tracking info on the website just said they’d been left at no. 15 (no 15 in my apartment block). I concluded they’d been left at 15 Merlin Court which was a house around the corner but when I went round to enquire, the lady at the door said nothing had been left there. Contacted the couriers to claim a failed delivery but they said I had to contact Field & Trek who would raise an investigation. Funny, but Field & Trek’s website doesn’t give you a direct email address or contact number for their Customer Services – you have to fill in a Contact form and submit it. This I did but there was no immediate acknowledgement of the kind one normally receives when contacting any kind of online support service… zilch! After a few days, I submitted another request but the same complete lack of any response. At this point, I literally had to write off a pair of £52 sandals. Was I angry? Just a tad. I ended up travelling 40 miles to a Cotswold Outdoor store that had my size of these sandals in stock. Should have done this to begin with. 9 days after the initial contact form was submitted, I get an email from Field & Trek informing me they were going to raise an investigation. 9 days!!! What kind of Customer Service is that?
2.) Garmin GPSMap 62st:
Opinions are very divisive about hand-held GPS devices amongst the hillwalking fraternity. The hardliner purists will mock their very existence saying that nothing can replace or match up to the traditional map and compass and a practised skillset in navigation using these in conjunction with each other.
I have to say I’m on the fence with this one. I’d always want to carry a good map with me. However, the technology in GPS devices has had time to mature. They are now quick to pick up satellites, will work under cover, are pretty accurate and will easily last being kept turned on for a day’s walking and the one thing a GPS unit can do that no map and compass can do is pinpoint your location. Quite simply, if you don’t know where you are, a map and compass isn’t going to tell you either and that’s even if you’ve got a decent map for where you are. Another really useful feature of GPS units is that they can trace your route so, at the least, you can get back to where you started from if you don’t have any other navigational resource to hand.
With lots of walking planned in New Zealand and the possibility of not having the most detailed maps available of all the places I may wander around, this could prove to be a useful bit of kit.
Cost – £239.00
UPDATE: Purchased a Garmin Australia & New Zealand Topo Map off ebay for £80 (RRP is £150). That will make my GPSMap infinitely more useful. I reckon I’ll probably get at least £50 for the map when I put it back on ebay on my return. Well worth getting for about £30.
Well, I think that’s it for the main kit purchases. It’s arguable whether some have been essential or not but, even if they weren’t, they’ll make the trip easier and/or more enjoyable.