What to pack for the Larapinta Trail

Larapinta Trail

The Larapinta Trail zigzags its way through the Red Centre’s rugged West MacDonnell Ranges, allowing hikers to truly experience a landscape most people never get the chance to. It’s a special and unique place.

For the same reason, regardless of how seasoned a hiker you are, there are some things you may not have considered when thinking about what to pack for your Larapinta trek. I’m guessing if you’re planning to take on Larapinta Trail that you don’t need help writing a standard multi-day hike packing list, so instead I’m just going to take you through some considerations that may not have crossed your mind for other hikes.

Hydration

Thanks to the taxing terrain and the dry air in the Red Centre, you’ll want to carry more water for Larapinta than you normally would for your hikes. The recommendation is 5 litres a day, so I used my 3-litre hydration bladder and carried two 1 litre bottles in my pack. I always carry electrolytes in tablet form, which I can throw in one of my bottles.

Having quick easy access to a drink (by using a bladder) means you’re less likely to forget to stay hydrated, which is especially important in this climate where you might not feel particularly hot. 

There are water tanks at the beginning of each of the Larapinta’s 12 sections, as well as scattered tanks in between but keep in mind that the safety of the water can’t be relied upon, so you’ll need some kind of water purification method, too.

Footwear

This rugged country will be seriously tough on your hiking footwear, or if you don’t get that right it’ll be tougher on your body. You’ll have your own preferences when it comes to hiking shoes versus boots but whichever you choose, they need to be sturdy and in good shape, with adequate tread. You may not think of it (I didn’t) but they need to be well padded underfoot or you risk bruised feet from this terrain. Make sure they’re worn in but not worn out. My last article was a guide on choosing the right shoes or boots and breaking them in properly.

Trekking Poles

If, like me, you aren’t someone who normally carries trekking poles, for the Larapinta Trail it’s worth considering at least bringing one. Even if they spend most of their time attached to your backpack, you might be glad of them when it’s late in the day on one of the gruelling Class 4 or 5 sections. Not to mention if you do yourself a minor injury (or worse, tear your meniscus like I did). If you’re worried about the weight, it might be worth parting with some extra cash for some lighter carbon poles.

Gaiters

I don’t normally use gaiters but on Larapinta I was almost the only hiker not wearing them. The gaiter envy was real. If you’re familiar with Spinifex grass then you probably don’t want to become as intimately familiar with it as you will when it gets in your shoes and socks. You will swear at it and stop far too regularly to remove it, only for it to seemingly jump straight back in there. Regular hiking gaiters will be too hot and uncomfortable for the Larapinta Trail, so go with a pair that’s light and breathable and only covers your ankles. Something like Dirty Girl Gaiters will do the trick. They won’t protect you from snakes the way traditional gaiters do, but every layer you can put between your skin and the snake can help lessen the chance of envenomation.

Maps

Unless you’re travelling with a guide, you’re obviously going to need a map. I get a lot of questions about which maps to buy and where to buy them. A lot of people aren’t aware of the Larapinta Trail Information Pack that you can order from Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife, which includes a poster-sized folded trail map as well as a separate map for each of the Larapinta Trail’s 12 sections (on waterproof, rip-proof paper and with a protective plastic pocket). It’ll cost you $39 plus delivery but there’s no doubt it’s worth having.

Creepy crawlies

Most of you probably already carry everything you need to deal with creepy crawlies on your hikes – Stingose, antihistamines, snake bandages, bug repellent, etc. – but what you may not have thought of is flies. At certain times they can be unbearable on the Larapinta, so one thing you might want to add to your creepy crawly supplies is a head-net. You’ll look ridiculous, of course, but that’s a small price to pay to save your sanity.

That’s a good run down of the things I either packed for my trek or wished I did. Obviously, it’s not all essential gear, but even the non-essentials can make a huge difference to your Larapinta experience. 

-Neil Fahey 

Guest blogger from the bushwalkingblog

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