What do I need to do the walk?
In short, a booked departure date, some hiking gear, and about three days’ worth of food. The booking part’s easy: go to the Three Capes Track official website (there’s also a link at the top of our home page) and click “book now”. While you’re there you can check out the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) packing list, and then head back here and have a look at our Gear List (we’re just a little leaner and lighter than our friends at PWS). Last, you need to sort food for the trip.
What's the absolute minimum I can take?
Another two part answer. You can always trim on food weight by carrying nothing but freeze-dried and dehydrated stuff – but you’re on holidays, staying in places where you’ll want to sit outdoors and enjoy the view, so think hard before ditching all thought of fresh things (such as fruit) and treats. So to part two: fight every impulse you have to pack extra clothing. Seriously, one set (top and bottom) of quality merino thermals as a base layer might be the best investment you ever make. Put them on at the start of the walk and take them off at the end. They dry fast if they get damp and they don’t get smelly. Use them as your cabin outfit. Will you look a bit weird wandering around the cabin in your thermals? Nope – because that’s what everyone does.
Anything else you recommend?
Make sure you have something with which to take photographs – a camera or smartphone (yes, there are USB charging points in the huts). And seeing as you’re carting along your phone, pick up some apps that will help you identify Tasmanian wildlife, birds and plants. We’d strongly suggest you take a book, especially if you’re walking during the long-daylight hours of summer and have lovely lingering evenings to sit outside and relax.
What are your payment options?
We have an online credit card payment system hosted by Paypal, through which we accept payment on Visa and MasterCard. You don’t need a Paypal account to pay via this system. We chose Paypal because it’s experienced and secure.
What are the steps to complete and pay for an order?
Once you’ve chosen your gear and food and checked your rucksack you’ll click through to our checkout page. There you’ll be asked to enter billing details, including dates and times for the delivery and return of your gear and food (it’s okay of you don’t have travel details finalised – we’ll get them later). Once that’s done and you’ve read and accepted out Terms and Conditions, you’ll click through to a secure Paypal payment page to complete the transaction.
How far in advance do you need my order?
The sooner you can place your order the better, to make sure you get the size of hire gear you want and so if anything’s an issue we can solve it with you. You can always place another order for the same walk, and there’s no charge for placing a last-minute order with those final couple of things on it – we’ll just pack them in with the other things we’re delivering to you.
Having said that, we can take orders right up to the day before your departure, but if it’s that late make sure you phone first, and be prepared for the fact that some gear items might all already be out on the track.
How do I take delivery of my order, and how do I return hire gear?
We deliver orders free of charge to accommodation addresses within about 5–6km of central Hobart, and to Hobart airport for a $10 fee. If you’ve hired gear, delivery will probably take about 15–30 minutes – we’ll make sure you know how to use the gear and that everything fits. You’ll return your hire gear to us at your nominated time – again, we collect returns free of charge at accommodation addresses within about 5–6km of central Hobart, and at Hobart airport for a $10 fee. Our delivery/return window is 8am to 6pm each day, and we recommend an afternoon time for delivery.
Do I have to pay a deposit for hire gear? How long can I keep my hired stuff?
Yes, we take a $1 pre-authorisation swipe from your credit card (via mobile EFTPOS) when we deliver your hire gear. The pre-authorisation amount is returned to your credit card account by your bank and credit card provider sometime you’ve completed your walk – it can be up to 28 days (which is why we take only $1!).
Hire costs are designed to cover five nights – one before your departure, three on the track, and one after you’ve completed the walk. If you’d like to keep gear longer – for instance if you’re planning some travel before returning to Hobart – we charge a fee of 10% of the total hire price per additional night. For example, if you hire a rucksack and down sleeping bag the total hire price for five nights is $90; extra nights would be $9/night.
What happens if I lose or damage hire gear?
If any item of gear you’ve hired isn’t returned to us we’ll discuss it with you upon your return. If the item is lost, or it’s a “for sale” item that you’d like to keep, we’ll charge you the manufacturer’s recommended retail price of the item less the cost of hire. We’ll inform you of the final price before charging you.
You’re hiring hiking gear and we know it’s going to cop routine wear and tear. The only things that catch our attention are return items that are damaged to the point of being unusable (which is unusual, but not unknown), or require specialist cleaning services (down sleeping bags can’t just be thrown in a home machine with the socks and undies). If this happens, we’ll discuss it with you. If the situation merits it we reserve the right to charge you for repairs, cleaning or replacement.
How much can I carry?
You should carry as little as possible: the less weight you’re lugging, the happier you’ll be. Follow the advice on this and the Three Capes Track websites and you should end up with a total load of about 10–12kg, including 1.5–2L of water.
How much you can carry is a beloved subject of hikers. The long-time rule of thumb is to carry no more than a third of your bodyweight, but let’s leave that where it belongs – probably somewhere mid last century, as far as technology goes. Enter various lightweight fabrics, camping stoves etc and these days even multi-day, independent walkers aim for a total pack weight of no more than 25 per cent of their body weight.
Taking these things together, a 10–12kg backpack is going to be well below the 25 per cent bodyweight mark for most Three Capes walkers. And that’s a happy outcome.
Can’t I just borrow my Uncle Bob’s sleeping bag?
You can. A couple things worth asking to help you decide: how long has Uncle Bob had his sleeping bag, what’s its weight and volume, and what’s the lowest temperature it’s supposed to keep you warm? Like most things, camping technology has improved over the years, and although it’s not quite the microchip rule – double the power, half the size – sleeping bags have gotten smaller and lighter for the same relative warmth. Most modern sleeping bags also have a comfort rating based on the EN13537 Test.
Do you sell gluten-free and vegetarian food?
Yes, we do. We even have some vegan meals. At the bottom of every page in the gourmet section you’ll see three little symbols – one for gluten free (), one for vegetarian ( ), and one for vegan (). They’re displayed with meals as appropriate. We’re always looking to expand our offering of meals so if you have any suggestions for gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan meals we’d love to hear them.
Will I get hungry?
We’ll have a look at your order and if we’re worried that you haven’t packed enough food, we’ll get in touch. You’ll be doing a fair bit of exercise, so night-time meals are designed to be hearty, without leaving you too much rubbish to carry out. And has there ever been a better time for trying leftovers for breakfast? Remember: what happens on the Track, stays on the Track.
How come you don't have my favourite camping meal?
Because you haven’t told us what it is yet! Let us know – we’re always up for trying new delicious things …
Do I have to eat my meals in order?
Yes… and no. Breakfasts and lunches won’t matter too much, but the dinners include fresh ingredients ranging from the ‘eat now’ family to the ‘can survive being bumped around in the backpack’ variety. Our First Night Fabulous range definitely need to be eaten on Night 1. Take a look and decide if you think you’ll be able to change order, or relax, make another cup of tea (or cocktail) and cook strictly by the numbers.
What’s a spork?
Some camping innovator’s idea of a funniest home videos joke. A spork combines a spoon, a knife and a fork in one often strangely coloured implement. On the plus side it saves on washing up, but consider this: you want porridge and a piece of toast and Vegemite for breakfast. Which end would you like to hold?
What happens to rubbish?
Essentially, whatever you carry in and don’t eat, you carry out. But it’s good news after that. To the extent it’s possible, we package food to minimise garbage – and weight. If you hire one of our backpacks, we give you a waste sack for garbage storage so the pack and your stuff don’t get manky. Theoretically the manky factor is low because you’re allowed to leave ‘wet’ waste – such as most uneaten food – in fly-out tanks at the huts (but note that ‘hard’ leftovers – think bones out of steaks – have to be carried out). We urge you to recycle as much as possible at the end of the walk. If you have one of our waste sacks, you’re most welcome to hand it back for us to deal with. We recycle all paper waste, and all soft plastics – after a rinse out – head off to the REDcycle program, from which they travel on to Replas for transformation into an assortment of recycled plastic things including outdoor furniture, bollards and signs.
How will I stay warm?
By dressing appropriately for the conditions. You’ll have packed according to the rules of layering (keep reading) and it’ll go pretty much as you’d expect. If the weather turns cold – which it may, any time of year – you’ll wear more layers, and less if it’s warm. It’s a good idea to always keep your raincoat near the top of your backpack as an easy-to-access windproof layer.
Ian believes that somewhere, sometime in the outdooriverse, someone said: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing”. Most often these days it’s cited as an old Scandanavian saying. Whatever. Take it to mean that you’ll have more fun on an outdoor trip if you dress appropriately. You need clothes that keep you dry if it rains, warm if it’s cold and cool if it’s hot. The things you choose should be comfortable, light, hard-wearing and easy to wash. And – seeing as you’ve got to carry it – you want as few items of clothing as possible. Enter the concept of layering…
If you dress in multiple light layers you’re able to adapt to a greater range of conditions. You can add or remove layers depending on the weather and the effort you’re putting in. If conditions demand, you should be able to wear all of your layers in comfort. The three principal layers are base, insulation and outer.
The base, or foundation, layer contacts the skin, which it keeps dry by wicking away moisture. It should be lightweight and quick-drying; merino wool, silk and synthetics including polypropylene are the regular choices. Cotton isn’t a good insulator; it gets clingy when wet and takes longer to dry – save it for in the huts.
The insulation layer is meant to keep you warm. It should keep cold air out and redistribute moisture wicked from the base layer – partly by absorbing it and partly by letting it evaporate. A couple of lighter insulation layers are probably better than a single thicker layer, but don’t get too hung up on this. Popular choices include fleece, down and wool.
The outer layer is there to protect you from wind and rain (and snow, if that’s the climate you’re tackling). The go-to choice for outer wear is garments made with a waterproof/breathable microporous membrane such as Gore-tex, eVent, Reflex (and many others).
How will I stay dry?
Two part answer. During the day, you’ll put on your raincoat if rain starts to fall. If it doesn’t fall too hard and your raincoat is decent you’ll stay pretty much dry. If it rains really hard and for an extended period, even with a decent raincoat you might end a bit damp around the neck, sleeves and ankles/knees – but you’ll dry out fast once the weather clears or you’re indoors. And thus part two of the answer: you’ll stay dry at night because you’re in a fabulous modern hut. Snuggle up and listen to the rain on the roof.
Can I get lost?
Only if you try really, really, really hard. The track is wide and clear and the signs are large. Quite a few other people – up to 47, to be exact – will be walking at the same time as you. And then there’s the expert host ranger, a veritable Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service font of knowledge, at each hut. If still in doubt, keep the ocean on your right and you’ll be fine.
What other camping words should I know?
It’s a drawstring bag. For putting… stuff… in. Can’t you just tumble it all into your backpack? Gail has no idea, though she does like that a stuff sack keeps her socks and undies all snuggling together somewhere warm and dry and that they’re easy to find. Ian believes in stuff sacks the way some people believe in Vitamin C. He thinks that hiking, ski-touring and bicycle touring are made easier and happier by a small investment in nylon or Cordura bags. So why wouldn’t you?
Scroggin, aka trail mix, aka Gorp.
Scroggin, or scrog (says Ian), is the name that’s stuck at our house for the hiker’s favourite mix of dried fruits, nuts, seeds and a couple of secret sugary extras. It’s often called trail mix on commercial packets, while others call it gorp (“good ol’ raisins and peanuts” or “granola, oats, raisins, peanuts”).
Gail used to think it was the kind of thing odd people wearing waterproof or breathable shorts, socks that wick and ankle boots ate as they tackled their next perilous mountain. But she’s been converted by Ian’s secret special mix.
Strictly you don’t need to know this one, but’s it’s fun to say three times fast. If you were also carrying your own cooking stuff then every gram counts (Ian knows people who have drilled holes in their cutlery handles to reduce a gram or two – at least he says it’s someone he knows…). A spondonickle – or ‘spondy’ for those in the know – is like a portable handle for camping pots so that instead of carrying the weight and non-tessallating shape of pots with handles you take some neat handleless ones, and a spondy.
See “How will I stay warm?”, above.
Can I get someone to carry me?
C’mon – it’s going to be great! It’s not like you have to run 20km and then catch up for a meeting and replace your tap washers before preparing a banquet for 10. Every day you’ll start at the beginning, and your only job for that day is to admire the scenery, eat all your snacks and work out your playlist in case it rains. You’ll do it – and you’ll have a blast. Trust us…
What else can you tell me about the walk?
By the way, what’s the time in Tasmania?
Tassie runs on Australian Eastern Standard Time (UTC + 10 hours) from the first Sunday in April to the first Sunday in October, and Australian Eastern Daylight Time (UTC + 11 hours) at other times. Same time as Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. But not Brisbane, from October to April.