Backpacks on the Kokoda Trail
Trekking across the remote Owen Stanley Ranges via the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea is not for the fainthearted.
One of the most important decisions confronting trekkers is whether to engage a personal PNG carrier – or not. The final decision can mean the difference between enjoying the trek or struggling with the burden of additional weight.
If trekkers are physically fit and have put in some hard training for at least six months they will usually be able to carry their own backpack. But if they are not in peak physical condition (or in their 40s and do not have the same sized waist-line as they had in theirr 20s) they will struggle - Kokoda does not make any concessions!
Prospective trekker should therefore be honest in their assessment of their ability to carry their own backpack.
If they have engage a personal carrier they will need to establish their routine and requirements from the start.
Trekkers should remind him that he is their ‘trek carrier’ and is to stay with them at all times. If he wanders off with the others (as they sometimes do) don’t feel embarrassed to remind him to stick with you. Trekkers will find them most obliging and willing to do whatever they can to help - they just need to know the rules.
Please respect them by not overloading them. They will always be willing to carry more but in the interests of their long term wellbeing (hips and knees) you should stick to a ‘dry’ limit of 12 kg per pack. Some trekking companies weigh all the backpacks at the start of eact trek – if it exceeds 12 kg (without water) they will require you to remove unnecessary items or to carry them in your daypack.
The reason for this weight limit is because your personal carrier will also have a small bilum bag (around 5 kg) with his own gear that he will need to carry as well.
If trekkers have any doubt about their ability to carry their own backpack an investment in a personal carrier will probably be the best decision they make – apart from the commitment to trek Kokoda in the first place.