We spoke with ioMerino Outsider Sputnik about his recent trip to the Red Centre, and got him to share his tips for hiking in the warm weather.
I was there a few years back when I went up for the World Rogaining Championshipsin the East MacDonnell Ranges. I didn’t compete but photographed the event, then stopped at Uluru on the way back to Adelaide. It was June which is a really good time of year to go - mild days, cool nights. Like a lot of people, I was surprised at just how far away from Alice Springs it is. I’d always thought of it being quite close but it’s about 5 hours drive away so it’s quite a side trip.
This trip was a bit last minute, and it hadn’t really occurred to me that the weather was going to be excruciatingly hot. I packed my merino track pants and hoodie for the cold nights, and it was 36+c the entire time so it’s fair to say they didn’t get worn once we were north of Coober Pedy. It was actually so hot, some of the trails at Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon were closed for safety reasons.
We stopped at the Breakaways just outside of Coober Pedy on the way up, but there’s not really any hiking you can do there. We did the Uluru base walk (14kms), the Valley of the Winds hike at Kata Tjuta (9.5kms) and the Kings Canyon rim walk (9kms) on consecutive days and I don’t mind admitting we were pretty cooked doing those three in the heat. Kata Tjuta was closed from 11am and the rim walk from 9am so we went out early, but it still got super warm. After a relaxing day in Alice Springs, we then explored the West MacDonnell Ranges where we hiked some shorter trails and swam in a few waterholes - which provided some welcome relief from the heat.
I’ve got on Osprey 22L daypack that’s the perfect size for these sorts of day hikes. I have a 1l drink bottle I stash in the side pocket, and I usually took an extra emergency bottle as well, stored in the main compartment. I use a Garmin Fenix3to track distance covered just so I have an idea of how far we’ve gone and how far it is to the finish which helps me ration water if we’re getting low. I’m a trail runner, so I don’t usually wear boots but hike in my Brooks Cascadia trail shoes. Probably not smart if there’s snakes around, but it works for me. Other than that, I usually carry a lot of camera equipment with me which is where all the weight comes in. I had about 5kgs of camera equipment that I carted around everywhere so keeping everything else as minimal as possible was pretty important for me.
I’ve always been a bit skeptical about wearing my ioMerino in the warm weather. It sort of defies logic that the stuff I wear to stay warm when it’s cold, can also keep me comfortable when it’s warm, so this trip I decided to put it to the test. We were on the road for ten days, and I rotated three merino T-shirts and I’m happy, and honestly a bit surprised, to report they were fantastic. It turns out all the stuff they say about them being breathable and insulating is true. Could not have been more comfortable and the fact I only needed a few tops and didn’t have to worry about doing laundry along the way because they are stink-resistant made the trip even easier.
Uluru was amazing again - no pictures can ever do it justice. For me personally, the rim walk at Kings Canyon is probably the best hike you can do. It’s absolutely spectacular even though pictures don’t really do that justice either. Finding a Thorny Devil along the way was easily one of my favourite moments, and because I’m a self confessed ‘bird nerd’, spotting rainbow bee eaters and a splendid fairywren were highlights as well.
ioMerino Outsider, Sputnik get honest about swapping from ioMerino to another brand. And why he think's he's an idiot for doing it...including why a dog attacked him because of it!
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