On November 8 of 2018 Jean Hacquart started a new solo-adventure: a 6,000 km own-powered trip through New Zealand. His plan was to go from the northernmost point of the North Island to the southernmost point of the South Island both on foot and by kayak. And then return from south to north by bicycle. When he wasn’t dreaming of food and a dry place to sleep, Jean took time along the way to write a series of articles for Salomon.com about how to plan and execute your own thru-hike. A former Salomon employee who grew up in the French Alps, Jean is an experienced backpacker. A few years ago he completed America’s Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), which stretches for more than 4,200 kms from the Mexico/U.S. border to the Canada/U.S. border. This is the first in a series of posts we will publish with advice from Jean on how to plan and finish your own thru-hike. Read below for Jean's first piece of advice on what to bring in your backpack.
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR GEAR
By Jean Hacquart
The first thing to consider when planning a thru-hike (besides where to go, of course) is how to choose your gear. First, no matter the distance you’re hiking, the goal is to be as light as possible, without sacrificing the minimum comfort you need and always keeping safety in mind. Here you have to find your personal balance between the three. Nobody will have the exact same gear list. You’ll see that in my case a full-length mat is not mandatory but a good camera is, even if it’s the heaviest piece of gear I’ll carry.
That said, you still have to chase the grams everywhere. Cutting your toothbrush in half might seems silly at first, but it’s not: quickly the saved grams will appear to be kilos. Of course, you can’t break all your gear into pieces and cutting off the sleeves of your waterproof jacket might not be the smartest thing to do. But having this way of thinking is your top priority.
Then, you can start looking to upgrade to lighter equipment, which can make a huge difference, too. First, use what you have at home and get outside! Soon enough, you’ll be in front of your computer, comparing every single spork that exists—and that’s okay. I’ve done it too. In the end, one simple rule to remember: your base weight (that is, everything but food and water) should not be more than 10% of your body mass. So if you weigh 70 kg (154 lbs), your backpack shouldn’t be heavier than 7 kg (15 lbs). Happy trails!
The gear I’m using in NZ:
• Salomon Sense Pro 3 shoes / Salomon Odyssey
• Salomon Wayfarer shorts
• Salomon Stroll LS Tee
• Salomon Grid HZ Mid Hoodie
• Salomon Super Halo Down Hoddie
• Salomon Outspeed JKT
• Salomon S/LAB Sense tight
• Salomon S/LAB Motion Fit 360 pants
• Suunto 9 Watch
• Sleeping bag