Preparation, Equipment, Food and Safety
These notes are prepared for participants in Boots N’ All bushwalks, but do have a wider application. For overnight or extended wilderness expeditions, there are a number of websites which have more detailed discussions and checklists to enable you to be thoroughly prepared, and to keep your walk safe, comfortable and enjoyable.
Parks and Wildlife Tasmania have a comprehensive Safety in Parks page which covers many aspects of bushwalking safety and equipment, including a Walker Pack List that is well worth a read.
For Boots N’ All walks…
Contact the Walk Leader beforehand as trips may be subject to change and details may be incomplete. To comply with insurance and safety regulations, the walk leader will require name, address and emergency contact (eg next of kin) for all intending walkers as well as details of existing medical conditions and medication in case of emergency. Do NOT bring along people without notifying the leader in advance of each intended walker (except for easy/family walks). For safety reasons children under 12 years of age must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
Late arrival at the agreed meeting placecouldresult in you being left behind, and a delayed departure can put pressure on walkers which may result in the walk finishing in the dark.
Risk Assessment: It is the responsibility of the walk leader to inform you of particular risks associated with the walk he or she is leading. The general risks of bushwalking are outlined in the next paragraph, but occasionally there are risks specific to the walk. We will do our best to include these in the walk description on the website and invitation emails. Please do not be offended if the walk leader decides that a walk is too risky for you, or if a walk has to be cancelled due to increased risk associated with weather, track closure etc.
Is this the Right Walk for You? Occasionally, people have come along for walks totally beyond their endurance and equipment, because they have mistakenly believed that their previous experience has been sufficient. If the walk is rated as medium or hard, check with the walk leader about what sort of experience is necessary. At times, walkers have faced bitter cold, driving rain and snow, exposed situations, long distances, steep climbs, long stretches of deep mud, tracks awash with 10-20 cm of icy water, and scrambling over huge, slippery boulders. Are these possible on the walk you are considering? Have you walked under those conditions before? Your lack of preparedness to cope with extreme conditions could endanger both yourself and others who must stay with you. Intending walkers who are new to Boots N’ All must contact the leader personally unless the walk is rated “Easy” or “Family”.
Make sure you are well equipped. Proper clothing and adequate food, including “snack food” can make the difference between a safe and comfortable walk and one which at the least could be very stressful and at the worst potentially dangerous for both yourself and others in the party.
Clothing suggestions for exposed conditions are:
Essential: Waterproof rain jacket with hood, warm woollen or thermal clothing, warm trousers (cotton trousers and jeans are unsuitable in wet cold conditions) gloves or mittens (a spare pair of socks are a useful substitute for mittens) and a warm hat or beanie. Sun-hat and sun-screen block-out. Comfortable, durable (worn in) footwear. Day pack (or larger) on mountain walks; a school type pack is adequate for shorter trips but check the seams and webbing for strength. Make sure you have a waterproof liner (eg strong plastic garbage bag) inside your pack and store your “keep dry” items in another plastic bag inside the liner bag.
Optional: A small torch and a whistle. Although the walk leader will have a map, bring your own (and a compass) if you have them, in a clear plastic bag. Waterproof overpants and gaiters are desirable. A GPS or a weatherproof smartphone with GPS and mapping software is very useful. Walk descriptions are emailed a week or so ahead, along with a link our website which has information about how to use these devices and downloadable tracks and waypoints for most of our walks. For remote area walks, if you have an EPIRB, SPOT device or satellite phone, these can be extra safety options. Mobile phones also give reasonable reception on higher peaks and areas with fairly unobstructed lines to the nearest tower. (mostly only Telstra reception in the wilderness areas, though.)
Food Suggestions: The best advice is to eat well before you start (a good wholesome breakfast) and to have frequent snacks during the walk.
“Scroggin”, a mixture of nuts and dried fruits, gives a better sustained release diet than chocolate or confectionery. Other useful snacks include oat biscuits, raisins, jelly beans, dried apricots and some “high energy” confectionery. Also cereal and protein. Fresh fruit is good but heavy to carry.
Drink: Most walks have creeks or tarns along the way but sometimes these take a while to reach so it is advisable to carry a water bottle (preferably 1 litre) with you. Electrolyte replacement drinks may be helpful for some people.
Stay together: Younger more energetic walkers should moderate their pace to stay with the group. If you find the pace too fast, don’t be afraid to get a message to the leader requesting a break and/or to reduce the pace of the party.
If you get lost or lose contact with the main party, stop and try to think calmly. Do not continue travelling until you know where you are. Use your map and compass and look for landmarks. A pattern of three sound signals (e.g. whistle blasts, yells, etc.) is a standard distress signal. Keep your pack with you at all times.