Home Forums General Forums Trek Preparation Preparing For Kokoda – The Average Joe

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    QUOTE(blanno @ 25 Jun 2010, 09:36 PM) [snapback]11877[/snapback]
    Thanks for putting the time in to putting these tips up, does anyone have any recomdations on packs ??

    I'm no expert but happy to share what I know. I personally found and saw others with packs like BlackWolf, which fell apart on The Track. Maybe just a bad lot but they certainly didn't go so well. Eg. the metal back support struts push through the retainers at the top of the pack and so the whole back slides down! Another, the stitching and zips gave way. The packs also don't have much padding around the waist band – where most weight should be taken.

    On my second trek of the track, I purchased a Deuter. It was brilliant and quite reasonably priced.

    A few key points worth considering when looking around for a pack:- (just a brain dump for you)
    1. make sure the pack is for hiking – not for touring. Hiking packs don't protrude beyond your shoulders and so don't catch on trees and bushes.
    2. make sure that pack had a rain hood. A wet pack holds a lot of weight. Many put the rain hood over the pack as routine each morning. On average, it rains 2 out of every 3 days.
    3. I found it valuable to have an exterior pocket/pouch that accepts your hydration pack (like the 3ltr Unbottle mentioned). Being able to whip out the water-pack quickly means easy-street at each refill.
    4. I found it useful that the shoulder straps running over the chest had some solid anchor points. I used these to strap on my camera so it was always in easy reach for a snap/video grab.
    5. Possibly most importantly – especially if carrying your own pack – it needs to be comfortable. The el-cheapo packs typically have el-cheapo padding (thin etc) and not good for hiking hours and hours, day after day. Often trekkers buy these type of packs, then get their personal porter to carry their pack. Of course, the poor porters end up with nasty blisters and abrasions carrying such packs. Their hips and shoulders cop a beating. I had to treat most personal ports every night with wound dressings etc. The Deuter's aren't expensive like the boutique-hiking-shop packs but I found to be excellent quality.
    6. My packs also had a second compartment at the bottom. This was handy for keeping wet stuff away from the main pack.
    7. All good hiking packs are top load and the rain pouch unravels from the base of the back to extend around and over the top
    8. I plastic-wrapped my pack before airline check-ins wherever I could – just to protect it from getting wrecked and from tampering. If no wrap, then I crossed over the shoulder straps and pulled them as tight as possible in a cross-formation – just to keep lose bits from snagging and tearing it in transit.
    9. A pack having the link-strap between the two shoulder straps is tops. Most do. It's the one that runs across the chest to keep the shoulder straps from spreading apart and causing your shoulders to tire too quickly.
    10. I also found that the good packs have a superior method of adjusting pack's back height. Most allow the pack height to be adjusted to match the distance between the top of your shoulders to your waste – giving best load distribution and comfort. The better packs have a really robust way of doing this. The cheaper ones – well – you compare them!
    11. Better ones have a water-proof outer/lining on the base of the pack. This is useful because dropping your pack to have a break or get water is often done onto wet ground. The outer helps prevent water entry.
    12. I used a large dry-sack as my pack liner. This way, no matter what creek I had to cross (or fell into!), my gear was guaranteed to stay dry. A wet sleeping back and night clothes could be a real problem – especially in the highland areas where it gets quite cold at night. The dry-sack is excellent "insurance".

    It helps to know exactly what to look for when shopping around. I hope you find at least some of this info useful. But as always, this is just what worked for me. I'm sure others far more experienced than I could add some gems of their own to this lot. I welcome such input.


    Thanks it all helps

    Andy N

    Hi, do you really need gaiters or over boots or is that just one more thing to carry/worry about? thanks


    Hi Andy,

    I took long gaiters and found I didn't need them-certainly not long ones anyway! When it is dry, you don't need them at all but when it turns to mud, short ones are great. They keep the bulk of the mud off your boots, although when it rains, you'll still have wet boots.
    I left mine behind as I don't envisage needing them again in a hurry-I'll use short ones from now on.

    Editors Note: Thanks for leaving them behind. Nowadays, often at the commencement of a trek, we often see our boys lining up in their boots and gaitors and looking so proud! For them to buy a pair of gaitors is out of the question as other things take priority so i know every time I witness this, that some trekker left behind his gaitors! It also makes a good gift from a trekker to his personal porter at the end of their trek.


    I used a Deuter pack and found them to be excellent. I used a garbage bag rather than a dry sack. They work just as well. If you dont have high top boots then gaiters may be necessary, its a personnel choice really. I didnt use them though.


    I'm no salesman, and i haven't done kokoda, but i strongly reccomend everyone thinking of doing the trek has a look at Aarn Bodypacks. I'm a rock climber/bushwalker/survival camper/ kayaker and these packs are the greatest! Without the full sales pitch, they basically allow full body movement (including a full extension of the arm and an effortless walking style) and balance your load across you body centrally. they incorporate drysacks and are really a perfect system. find below the link to their website, as well as a list of stockists in Australia. Cheers guys, I look forward to trekking the Mighty Kokoda sometime soon smile.gif


    Backpacking Light
    29 Somerset Place (off Little Bourke Street),
    P: 03 9670 5144
    E: melbourne@backpackinglight.com.au

    886 Nepean Highway
    Moorabbin 3189
    P : 03 9532 5337
    E: moorabbin@outsports.com.au

    Adventure Megastore
    505 Kent St
    P: 02 8280 9000
    E: ollie@adventuremegastore.com.au

    Camp Hike Climb
    20 George Street
    P : 02 9476 5767
    E : info@camphikeclimb.com.au
    Race HQ
    144 Wickham St
    Fortitude Valley
    P: 07 3852 2171
    E: sales@racehq.com.au

    K2 Base Camp
    140 Wickham Street
    Fortitude Valley
    P: 07 3854 1340
    E: info@k2.com.au

    Camping Country
    68 Wises Road
    P: 07 5479 3300
    E: camping@bigpond.net.au

    Allgoods Bush Hut
    71-79 York St
    P: 03 6331 3644
    E: sales@allgoods.com.au

    Mountain Creek
    75-77 Bathurst Street,
    P: 03 6234 4395
    E: mtcreek@bigpond.net.au

    Northern Territory
    N.T. General Store
    42 Cavanagh St
    P: 08 8981 8242

    Australian Online dealer


    Ask Again

    Would the gentleman who recently requested a copy of my DVD please re-contact me at dan@towler.com? I'm terribly sorry for the delay in getting the DVD to you.

    I was caught up in the Brisbane floods and managed to corrupt my Outlook PST file – hence lost your email and postal details.
    Please feel welcome to contact me again and I'll burn you a copy ASAP.

    Kind Regards


    Firstly, I would like to say thanks to Dan Towler for posting his preparation blog on our website as I have just noticed it has had over 37,000 views so should certainly have helped lots of people achieve their dream of completing a successful trek.

    This morning I received an email from a wife of a trekker who completed his trek today with the words:

    'If you knew the personal journey he has been through in the past 2 years you would definitely understand his satisfaction at completing Kokoda. I'm so proud of him'.


    Emails like this from people who have walked, their loved ones back home, from the trekkers themselves, makes the post written by Dan a great tool if you are preparing to walk the Kokoda Trail/Track.

    Whilst looking around our forum I also noticed a posting from a lady in Perth. This year I do not know why, but we have had several people walk with us from Western Australia so thought I would copy paste the following so that anyone from that part of Australia, will know what helped Donna and her husband come back for a second time and complete their successful trek:


    My husband and I are from Perth in our late 40's and completed the track earlier this month. Along with doing hills we did a lot of training on Jacobs ladder. The last month we were there almost every week day, doing double steps non-stop for at least an hour. I don't know how many times we turned to each other on the track and said 'thank god for Jacobs'. It really made the difference. We attempted the track last year but my husband fell ill with a virus on the 3rd day and we were flown back to Port Moresby for medical assistance. Last year we had not done a lot of Jacobs but were very fit. Our legs were aching severely by the end of each day so when we decided to attempt the track again, we really concentrated on becoming stronger in the legs. It was the best thing we did and I can't stress enough how important it is to climb stairs of some sort. On Kokoda much of the climbing is like going up steep stairs and if you don't have leg strength, you will struggle. I'm happy to say we completed the track this year with no problems at all and physically we were up with the fastest in our group…..STAIRS, STAIRS AND MORE STAIRS. Good luck and I hope you enjoy the track as much as we did….life changing experience.


    Happy training and planning everyone as it gives us great pleasure to see your smiling faces with similar stories to tell after your very own successful trek!

    As for Dan, he walked with us on 3 successful treks if my memory is correct. The last I heard, he was travelling around Australia in a caravan but thats sounds more like my generation then his, so he must be looking for another adventure in his life. All the best Dan as I know you check in on this thread from time to time. warm regards, from Gail and the team at Kokoda Trekking.


    Gday Gail….and all the KTL team!

    Thanks for your note and best wishes.

    Yes – Michelle and I are now over 6mths into our Big Lap around Australia and enjoying Perth at the moment. It's such a great country and we know that we're very lucky to be doing what we're doing.

    I do drop in on your web site from time to time and always enjoy reading the wonderful stories of so many others that have enjoyed a great life experience on The Kokoda Track. Walking The Track, as you know, is not easy by any stretch, but is one of the most rewarding things anyone can do – on several levels. The treks with KTL remain the most memorable treks I've ever done and I continue to (very genuinely) recommend KTL to any that enquire. I would certainly go with KTL again should I ever return for another trek. I know my trekking buddies feel likewise. In fact, I'm about to catch up with Ruth & Barry Bishop in Perth who trekked The Track in Apr 2007 – the first time I've seen them since Kokoda '07. Can't wait!

    I continue to get about two requests per month for my video of our 2007 trek. Although a very amature DVD with highly specific content to our trek, people who recieve a copy do seem to appreciate an insight into what it's like – especially the tunes from The Boys, the toilets/showers and river crossings!

    Well done to you Gail for continuing to run such a great company (KTL) – providing an amazing life experience to so many Aussies and in recognition of our wonderful diggers (like my own father) who did us proud in the PNG campaign of Kokoda and its surrounds.

    Good on you Gail and thank you!

    Kind Regards


    Here is our Kokoda Trek Training Program.

    [attachment=12606:KT Program.pdf]
    KT Program.pdf


    Hi all

    Just one comment I would like to make on preserving your feet & toe nails, adding to the advice already given.

    That advice would be to ensure you cut your toenails a week for you begin and then everyday apply vaseline to your feet, especially between the toes and around the heels. I wore 2 pairs of socks for cushioning and my feet at the end of both treks were as good as the day they started, no blisters, no chafing, no cuts, no sore feet and probably didn't even smell! Same pair of boots and treks were 7 years apart!

    Good luck to all future trekkers

    Waza (Treks 83 & 872)


    Cannot stress how invaluable I found this information to be when we trekked Kokoda. For those looking at trekking, print these out!

    fluppy B|


    Just going to add some general tips about cameras in less-than-ideal-conditions since I've seen people asking in other threads:

    Digital Compact Cameras

    These are probably my recommended choice for taking photos on trek. Most reasonably priced compacts are rather cheap nowadays ($200-400 AUD) for something decent. A 1GB card is plenty for the casual photographer, though if you plan to take a lot each day then I'd recommend 2-4GB. Check memory card comparison sites for your specific camera resolution though.

    As for protection, definitely bring a plastic bag (or several). Air tight would be best — in case it gets really wet on trek — there's nothing worse than getting to the end of the trek and losing all the photos you've taken.

    That's all there really is. Keep your camera dry, and preferably padded with a bit of your other gear rather than on the edge of your bag to protect it against any shocks along the way.

    Digital SLR Cameras

    Personally I wouldn't risk the gear, but for those who want much better photos considering the conditions then SLRs/DSLRs are the way to go.

    In relation to protection, all the suggestions that I've made for the compact cameras can also be applied to DSLRs. On top of that though, I'd highly recommend choosing ONE lens and keeping it on your camera the entire time.

    Why? I'm sure at this point you'd be familiar to the hazards of changing lenses (how it opens up the sensor to dust) in normal conditions. In less than ideal conditions, it's even more important to minimise the lens changes if possible.

    The usual protective gear for SLRs would be particularly useful here as well, such as lens hoods and protective filters to keep your lens free of dust, scratches and other hazards.

    As you can see, bringing along a DSLR's requires a bit more care than a compact digital camera. Either way though, with a little prep you should be able to safely bring home photos with you after your trek of Kokoda. =)

    Please let me know if there's any areas I may have missed.

    I took a small waterproof camera with me and it was lucky i did as the other peoples cameras in our group suffered greatly from moisture damage. Mine was a little Olympus, waterproof to 10m and it was fantastic.


    Hi all,

    Haven't posted for a while. My memories of the toilets is still very vivid. I remember my first visit as if it was yesterday. Being used to our Australian porcelain pans I looked and wondered how I could get my bum that low!! Finding a good hand hold on each side I made it but then proceeded to piddle all over my own boots :[

    First lesson learned. ha ha.

    After that it was all ok, I always went in the dark so people could see my head torch to ensure privacy. It will be one thing I will practice before my next trek.

    .Cheers Mike


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      ‘, ”, ‘




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