What to pack for your next visit to a national park

What to pack for your next visit to a national park

Feel like you’re for­get­ting some­thing? See what oth­er park-goers pack when they explore SA’s nation­al parks.

Not only do South Australia’s nation­al parks pro­vide breath­tak­ing scenery and an oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­nect with nature, they’re also the per­fect set­ting to try out a range of activ­i­ties, includ­ing moun­tain bik­ing, rock climb­ing and nature pho­tog­ra­phy – just to name a few.

To get the most out of your expe­ri­ence, it’s impor­tant to make sure you pack every­thing you’ll need.

Not sure what to take? Don’t despair, we’ve tak­en the guess­work out of it for you by ask­ing some sea­soned park vis­i­tors what they pack when they head out to under­take some of our parks’ most pop­u­lar activities.

Here’s a sneak peek into their bags:

Trail run­ning

Not only does trail run­ning improve your fit­ness, but you also get the added health ben­e­fits of being out in nature, rather than on a tread­mill at the gym.

Here’s what an expe­ri­enced Trail Run­ning SA mem­ber takes when he hits the track:

What to pack for your next visit to a national park

Won­der­ing what a buff is? It’s a tubu­lar ban­dana that is very ver­sa­tile in pro­tect­ing you from the ele­ments. It can be worn like a scarf, head­band or bal­a­cla­va, mak­ing it a handy addi­tion to any trail run­ning backpack.

This bag was used for hilly win­ter train­ing, so you may need to make some adjust­ments for sum­mer – remove the ther­mal, beanie and gloves, and add sun­screen and maybe a larg­er water blad­der to ensure you stay hydrated.

Top tip: Need some inspi­ra­tion for places to go? Check out these top parks for trail run­ning near Adelaide.

Moun­tain biking

Whether it’s a relax­ing ride along the shared use trails in Belair Nation­al Park, explor­ing the pop­u­lar Craig­burn Farm trails in Sturt Gorge Recre­ation Park or test­ing your endurance on the Maw­son Trail in Ikara-Flinders Ranges Nation­al Park, there is sure to be an expe­ri­ence to suit you.

When bik­ing long dis­tances, your back­pack might be quite dif­fer­ent to a day trip. Regard­less of the length, there are some essen­tials that should come with you every time you put your wheels in motion. Here’s what one of our reg­u­lar moun­tain bik­ers packs:

What to pack for your next visit to a national park

This back­pack was used for a morn­ing ride, so you might need some addi­tion­al sup­plies if you’re plan­ning a longer trip.

Make sure you know how to use your tools before you head off – the tyre lever, chain lube and CO2 car­tridges aren’t always intu­itive to use the first time round.

Top tip: For more handy tips on moun­tain bik­ing in SA’s nation­al parks, check out what else you should know before you go.

Rock climb­ing

The diverse land­scapes of SA’s nation­al parks offer a range of rock climb­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for begin­ners and expe­ri­enced rock climbers alike. There are sev­er­al breath­tak­ing spots where climb­ing is allowed, includ­ing Mori­al­ta Con­ser­va­tion Park, Onka­paringa Riv­er Nation­al Park, New­land Head Con­ser­va­tion Park and Ikara-Flinders Ranges Nation­al Park.

Like most adren­a­line-induc­ing activ­i­ties, rock climb­ing can be dan­ger­ous, so it’s impor­tant to know the cor­rect climb­ing tech­niques and to always take care when you’re out.

Pack­ing the right gear is cru­cial to your safe­ty and will help make your expe­ri­ence as enjoy­able as pos­si­ble. Here’s the back pack of an expe­ri­enced rock climber:

What to pack for your next visit to a national park

Top tip: this bag spread was used for tra­di­tion­al rock climb­ing. For dif­fer­ent types of moun­taineer­ing you’ll need dif­fer­ent equip­ment. If you’re new to rock climb­ing it’s rec­om­mend­ed that you go out with an expe­ri­enced climber who can show you the ropes…literally!

Overnight hik­ing

Hik­ing is one of the best ways to expe­ri­ence the beau­ty of SA’s parks, and overnight hik­ing trips take the adven­ture to the next lev­el. Many of us go camp­ing but we don’t exact­ly pack light, do we?

Work­ing out what to car­ry on a mul­ti-day hike can be dif­fi­cult and will depend on the cir­cum­stances. Are you hik­ing with friends? Is it a remote loca­tion? How many nights are you going for? 

Your hike could be ruined if you weigh your­self down by car­ry­ing too much, but you also need to get the basics right to ensure you have a safe and com­fort­able experience.

Our mate Josh West from Trekking West has just returned from hik­ing the entire Hey­sen Trail over a 2‑month peri­od. Here’s what he packed for this once-in-a-life­time trek across some of our state’s most beau­ti­ful nation­al parks:

What to pack for your next visit to a national park

Top tip: Won­der­ing where you can go for a mul­ti-day hike in SA? Check out some of our top picks.

Nature pho­tog­ra­phy

With breath­tak­ing land­scapes and diverse plants and ani­mals, SA’s nation­al parks offer ide­al set­tings for nature pho­tog­ra­phy.

What you pack depends on the type of pho­tog­ra­phy you’re set­ting out for, your lev­el of expe­ri­ence and the type of equip­ment you have. For instance, wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy is often a wait­ing game so you might spend hours scan­ning the hori­zon for your intend­ed tar­get. It’s sim­ply not prac­ti­cal or com­fort­able to do this with your cam­era and lens, so binoc­u­lars and a tri­pod are a must.

Here’s what one of our park pho­tog­ra­phers usu­al­ly takes with him:

What to pack for your next visit to a national park

Remem­ber, for ama­teur film­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy in SA’s parks and reserves a per­mit is not required, how­ev­er if your footage is going to be used for com­mer­cial pur­pos­es, or you plan to use a drone, you will need to apply for a per­mit.

Top tip: There’s a thriv­ing com­mu­ni­ty of ama­teur nature pho­tog­ra­phers shar­ing parks pho­tos online. Check them out or join in by using the hash­tag #nation­al­parkssa and indi­vid­ual park hash­tags, such as #belair­na­tion­al­park and #deep­creek­con­ser­va­tion­park.

Do you have any pack­ing tips to share? Let us know in the com­ments sec­tion below.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living