Pioneering Pack For Trailblazers
While a multi-day hike doesn't have to be an epic expedition, the chances are you'll need to put in a bit more effort than when taking a simple stroll in the local park. Having high quality and functional gear no doubt makes life easier on the trails and this starts with your pack. Australian Geographic Adventure's Elizabeth Ginis took our Pioneer 70L Technical hiking pack on a recent overnighter and found out just how equipped the pack was for this adventure.
Mountain Designs Pioneer 70L Technical Hiking Pack
Multi-day hiking has always been a fave thing of mine. It's the anticipation, the prep and the promise of adventure - it all gets my blood pumping. But, ultimately, it's the places I drop into that really satiate my appetite for the outdoors.
Hiking Bouddi coastal track in the similarly named national park, about 1.5 hours north of Sydney, isn't arduous. There are beaches, boardwalks and birdlife, sweeping views of the Pacific from craggy headlands, shady rainforest pockets and laze-about picnic spots. And the 8.5km one-way hike is bookended by picturesque camping sites at Putty and Pretty beaches. It's the perfect easy weekender.
I camped overnight at Putty Beach and woke to a vast blue sky and the chatter of rainbow lorikeets, merry raconteurs feasting on the nectar of golden bottlebrush blooms. The melody to their lyrics was the ocean, its ebb and flow both rhythmic and relaxing. Wandering over the dune to the long sandy arc of Putty Beach - rocky cliffs at each end - I dove into the water (uncharacteristically warm for mid-July) and spent the next half hour ducking under little left-handers.
Out of the water, dried, dressed and ready to roll, I pulled my pack onto my back. At just 2.5kg (unloaded), the Mountain Designs Pioneer 70L Technical hiking pack is way more than I need for this leisurely trek, but, hey, who can blame a girl for wanting to try out her new kit ASAP. Designed for the more advanced trailblazer (there's an internal hydration bladder sleeve and hiking pole attachments, peeps), its large main compartment is accessible through the top hood or bottom zip, and it has an internal divider to section off the bottom compartment for dirty gear, shoes or a sleeping bag (that's where I've packed mine). There's an adjustable hood, multiple accessories pockets and compression straps to keep it all tucked away.
Made from a ripstop outer and highly durable base fabric, the pack's also all weather - it includes a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish and a rain cover. I had no need for that today though. Despite being mid-winter, it was a sparkling 20°C day and slogging up the track to the top of the cliff at the northern end of Maitland Bay, about 4km into the walk, is sweaty work. Good thing then that the pack has an adjustable bar harness 2.0 system, which includes an airflow channel that enhances breathability. The padded mesh back panel, contoured shoulder straps and pre-curved hip belt (with load adjusters) meant the pack sat comfortably on me too, even though I was carrying a two-person tent, sleeping mat, water and food for a couple of days, my Trangia and warm clothes for the chilly nights.
By the time I reached Pretty Beach, a sweet little spot with a half a dozen grassy camping sites, I was ripe for a swim. I dumped my pack, shoes and clothes and jumped in. Afterwards I lazed on the grass, head on my pack and watched the world turn. Other walkers came and went, appearing from the bush to disappear into it again at the other end of the beach.
While I'd initially thought I'd push north to Macmasters Beach, I decided to stay overnight here (I called NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and booked a site), and set up my tent. Then, there was nothing for it than to enjoy my afternoon. Beside the sea and under a brilliant blue sky, it was a ridiculously easy ask.
To read Elizabeth's full gear review on our Pioneer 70L Technical hiking pack, head to Australian Geographic Adventure.
Image 1 & 2 courtesy of Andrew Leontarou