Camping With Less: Minimalism Outdoors

Usually when we head outdoors for a camping trip we hitch up the old Jayco Swan to the Troopy and head off. It’s a good rugged set up. Due to the campervan’s low towing height, it gives us the option of getting into National Parks and free camping spots where the bigger rigs can’t fit.

But, what about the camping spots so remote that a car couldn’t get there and you had to walk in – well, hello minimalistic camping, aka hiking.

With our new desire for minimalistic camping, we faced the challenge of making everything fit from the Jayco Swan into the backpacks of four people on a budget. And two of those people are children!

Camping changed from take whatever you want to everything being weighed and measured – was it light enough to carry, small enough to pack?

We calculated Mr Hack could comfortably carry 18 kg, myself 14 kg and each of the the kids could carry 5 kg. This weight includes not only all our hiking gear and clothing but also food and water. (And I soon discovered that hiking with 14 kg on my back required more fitness than I had at the time.)

Intense Minimalism

We faced a drastic culling of our usual camping gear. No longer could we fill up 50L tubs with pots and pans, cutlery and crockery, and food. Nor could the kids take one suitcase full of toys and another full of clothing – each.

It meant no longer grabbing the doona and pillows from the bed and throwing them in the campervan, or taking a towel for the shower and a towel for when swimming.

Even digging out the camp chairs from the shed wasn’t going to work.

We had to seriously downsize and I’m not going to beat around the bush, it was an expensive undertaking as we had very little that was light in weight.

Even with buying budget gear and looking for sale items the dollars spent quickly went up, especially as we were fitting out four people.

However, once everything was purchased the family hiking trips was where the savings could be made. Rather than eating out at restaurants, buying souvenirs, going to venues – we’d be enjoying nature and uninterrupted family time.

Even kids enjoy the views

Changes to Camping Equipment

There were a lot of changes to be made to prepare for hiking. The Jayco Swan was parked and covered and replaced by two Naturehike Cloud Up tents.

Downsizing from a Jayco Swan campervan to two lightweight tents

No longer we would need the fridge, solar panel and battery set up. Or the shower tent, bucket, pump and the foam floor mats. Easy to heat dehydrated meals would become the norm. And a shower, what shower?

Trays of cutlery became one lightweight 12 gram Sea to Summit spork each.

Cast iron pots and pans, a camp cooker and large gas bottle turned into one 2.3L light weight Primus cooking system.

Enamel camping plates and bowls (in different sizes) were kept packed away and replaced with one lightweight bowl per person.

Dishwashing turned into a quarter of a cut up scourer and a microfibre cloth as a tea towel.

The suitcases full of clothing morphed into one set of layered clothing and a very expensive yet luxurious lightweight puffer jacket each. We purchased waterproof jackets and overpants to keep us dry.

Bedding became a 500 gram insulated inflatable sleeping mat and a 900 gram down sleeping bag. We could have gone lighter in weight but the increase in dollars per person made it outside of our budget. Pillows turned into clothing stuffed into a pouch in the hood of the sleeping bag.

The first aid bag was trimmed to the essentials, and a water purifier was purchased whilst we deliberated about whether to buy a Personal Locator Beacon or not.

Then there were the Osprey hiking backpacks

Mr Hack had the jewel of the crown – a Helinox Zero hiking chair weighing in at only 500 grams. After this purchase we were left scratching our heads at why, for years, we have carted around big, bulky heavy camping chairs to parties, events and outings when I could have put a packed up hiking chair in my handbag.

Why Camp With Less?

At home we decluttered the kitchen, the linen cupboard, our clothing, books, unloved toys – you name it, we culled it.

Yet, with camping it had turned into taking more stuff each time, simply because we could.

Not only were we taking more, we were also having to spend extra time packing and unpacking all the gear! At times it felt like it could take half the day organise and pack everything, then another half a day to unpack.

The amount of ‘stuff’ was becoming a burden.

Our stuff was also keeping us stuck to places with roads. All this stuff put limitations on our ability to explore.

Hiking allured us with its offer of freedom, of going truely remote, of pushing the boundaries of minimalism and self-sufficiency.

Sustainable Living

And what was better was that we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. We could research what other hikers had done and adjust it to suit our circumstances.

Our Planned Family Hikes

We don’t have the option of family to mind our children whilst we go off exploring the wild, so they have to come with us.

Out on the trails with the kids

At seven and ten years old, there are limits on how far they can hike with or without a backpack.

With the children’s needs in mind, our walks will need to stay around 10 km per day, plus plenty of time for exploring, taking photos and play. Our family hiking trips are of the ‘slow down and enjoy the scenery’ type of outing.

Ensuring there’s time for play

After a bit of research, we’ve collated a list of multi-day family friendly hiking adventures in North East Victoria.

Warby-Ovens NP
Salisbury Falls to Wenhams Camp
4.5 km each wayDrop toilets, water tank, tables at Wenhams Camp
Can have a fire
Free camping
This is not a remote hike-in campsite and can also be accessed by car
Mt Buffalo NP
Reservoir Picnic Area to Mt McLeod hike-in Campground
8 km each wayManagement vehicle track to the hike-in Mt McLeod Campground
Alternate ‘shortcut walking track’ for part of the hike
Drop toilets at campsite
Fires not permitted
NP booking fee
Mt Buffalo NP
Reservoir Picnic Area to Rocky Point hike-in Campground
6.5 km each way
Management vehicle track to the hike-in Rocky Creek Campground
Drop toilets at campsite
Alternate longer walking trail can turn this walk into a loop track
Fires not permitted
NP booking fee
Mt Hotham to Mt Feathertop
The Razorback trail to Federation Hut
11 km each wayCamping permitted at the hike-in Federation Hut Camping Area
Fires only permitted in the hut within the fireplace provided
You cannot camp in the hut except in emergency situations
Drop toilets at campsite
Free camping (dispersed camping permitted in the Alpine NP)

We also have bigger plans such as the Main Range 22 km loop walk up to Australia’s highest mountain Mt Kosciuszko done over a few days. And extended time living in and exploring the trails of Tasmania and New Zealand.

In Conclusion …

We don’t need to be tied down by stuff and self-imposed limitations by being bound by belongings.

Life is an adventure – get out there and enjoy it.

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Are you a hiker? Which trails make you feel excited about adventure? Please scroll on down and leave a comment.