When planning for a mammoth seven-day hike across Daisetsuzan I found myself faced with all kinds of perplexing research, facts and questionable gear recommendations. Having only completed two-day hikes, with a convenient overnight stop at a mountainside hut, I was feeling the pressure to get the planning right.
This gear guide is a summary of the research which informed my gear decisions, along with a kit list of what I brought, what I wish I’d brought, and what I actually needed.
Pop back to Part 1 for a day by day guide to hiking Daisetsuzan National Park.
Sourcing accurate and recent weather information in English proved incredibly difficult. So, after asking around Japanese hiking groups and forums I found that a summer time Daisetsuzan is pretty much average Alpine weather. Meaning in August you’ll experience very cold nights ranging between 3 to 5°C and day time temperatures will be very comfortable at 15 to 20°C, if the sky is clear.
However, this doesn’t mean you’ll be spared from rain as Japan’s summers are very humid. The further south in the park you venture, the more likely you’ll encounter rain.
Our experience differed a little. While night times fit the Alpine category, and I can’t recommend a down sleeping bag enough, our day times easily reached 25°C, occassionally creeping closer to 30°C. Hokkaido was having an unusually hot summer but upon returning to Tokyo and sharing this experience with others it seems that Hokkaido has been experiencing increasingly hot summers in recent years.
This means you’re preparing gear for most weather types; hot and humid, cold approaching zero, rain and snow.
The water is only safe when filtered by a decent water filter or boiled thoroughly, as the water carries a nasty pathogen released from fox dung. The symptoms take 10 years to show up and by then it will be too late to treat.
We used the Sawyer Mini; excellent value for money although it does filter quite slowly: https://goo.gl/cSPnTy
In terms of water supply, most campsites are located by large snowbanks that provide a decent run off of water. By August, most of the water provisions in the southern end of the park had evaporated, the last reliable water source being Mt. Tomaurashi Camp Grounds.
You should be able to carry 4 litres of clean water once you leave this camp ground. Before that, you can rely on carrying 2 per day for drinking, and filter what you need for meals on arrival. Of course, this follows the rule that you’ll drink a litre before setting off in the morning.
I mentioned the map in Part: 1 and there are pictures of it in the guide but you will need your own copy and you will need to spend time translating it, making sure you understand everything along the route. You can buy it at the trailhead or in most Japanese hiking stores, such as Montbelle. You can find several Montbelle outlets in Sapporo.
Following is the list of the equipment we brought, plus some things we wish we had but didn’t.
What we wish we had brought = *
DNGC = Do Not Go Cheap.
There will probably be some things you will exclude for personal preferences.
Either way, let’s dive in.
- 50 to 55 litre Hiking Bag (minimum) DNGC
- Research how to measure and buy a hiking bag that fits your back correctly.
- Down Sleeping Bag – DNGC
- Roll matt/inflatable mat
- Sturdy Tent with a good fly Sheet – DNGC
- Lighter or Matches
- Multi-use Utensil
- Bowl Plate Combo
- Sharp Knife (or Multi Tool)
- DishTowel/Kitchen Roll (You’re not allowed to wash dishes in the park, you must mop up using tissue and take it away with you.)
- Small Zip Lock Bags (for preserving)
- Large Zip Lock Bags (for garbage)
- 3 x 1 litre bladder (one dirty bag for unfiltered water, marked clearly)
- 1 x 2 litre bladder
- Water Filter (goo.gl/1ny9eW)
- Quick Drink Bottle
First Aid Kit *
- Plasters/Band Aid
- First Aid Tape
- Sterilising Liquid
- Blister Treatment
- Hiking boots with steel caps – DNGC
- They must be well-worn in.
- Wicking Bra Vest x 2 (Ladies, I purchased this wicking vest and bra combo from Uniqlo, in the Airism section.)
- Wicking underwear x 3
- Compression Leggings x 1
- Long Sleeved Compression Top x 1
- Hiking Socks x 2
- Trekking Shirts x 2
- Shorts x 1
- Insulated Long Sleeved Jacket x 1
- Warm, Waterproof Gloves
- Wide brimmed, waterproof hat
- Neck Towel/Buff
- Rain Jacket – DNGC
- Rain Trousers – DNGC
- Shoe covers/gators *
- Hiking Bag Waterproof Cover
- 10 Litre Dry Bag – electronics etc go in here
- Waterproof Glove Covers – if your gloves aren’t waterproof
Clean, Warm Nightwear:
- Long sleeve fleeced top
- Thick, warm leggings
- Warm socks
Hygiene and Protection
- Wet Wipes
- Toilet Tissue
- Zip lock bags (for carrying away used tissue)
- Hair bands/bandana/buff
- Small Quick Dry Towel
- Sun Protection
- Insect Spray
- Mobile – This is your lifeline if things go wrong. Take it with you.
- Head Torch
- Extra Batteries
- Portable Battery Charger
Useful Extra Gear
- Crampons – I personally didn’t use these though they would’ve been useful. Remember to consider your overall pack weight.
- Hiking Poles – I took them and donot regret it at all. Very useful.
- Notebook and Pen
- Extra DSLR Batteries
- Compressible Pillow
And that’s the sum total of what I packed and what I wish I’d packed. A seasoned hiker may look at this and think they could last with fewer changes of clothing, and you very well possibly could. But, through seven exhausting days I wanted to maintain a reasonable amount of cleanliness. If you decide you take less clothing, then at least pack one set of very insulated night wear for sleeping in. Happy hiking!