Campfire Questions with MSC + Torpedo7: Part 2

17th May 2021|3 min

Want those burning questions answered? One of our outdoor pros, Bevan Smith, collaborated with Torpedo7 recently to help answer your Safety and Survival questions about everything from emergency shelters and fire startingto communications devices and survival kits, plus general tips and tricks to help you have the best outdoor experience.  

Q11: I have 2 kids aged 7 and nearly 10 and we are keen to get into the outdoors. How much weight should little people realistically carry and what sized pack is most appropriate for them? 

 With my kids, it’s been very gradual and based on what they are comfortable with. Each kid is different too - so depends on their motivation. At this stage my nine-year-old can take her sleeping bag, water bottle, clothes and jacket. My five-year-old just has his clothes, jacket and water bottle. 
In terms of packs, I used their school bags (which have sternum straps) up until the point where they could carry their sleeping bag. Then it’s about finding a good pack that suits their size. 

Q12: How would you define the difference between an intermediate track and an advanced track? 

This is based on Department of Conservation’s walking track categories: 

  • An Intermediate Track is generally well formed, some sections may be rough, muddy or steep. Major stream and river crossings are bridged. 
  • An Advanced Track is mostly unformed, may be rough and steep. Expect unbridged streams and river crossings. 

Q13: Does InReach link to your cell phone? But you might not have cell phone reception? 

 It connects via Bluetooth, and then you can use the Garmin app on your phone to send text messages via the Iridium satellite network. 

Q14: I’m interested in hiking in snow! What are your recommendations for beginners? 

Get some experience first before planning a longer trip. You'll also need good gear to keep you dry, such as snow gaiters and good waterproof pants and jacket. You’ll benefit from learning how to use crampons and an ice axe too. In New Zealand conditions, snow generally means there will be the presence of ice! Check out the Alpine training organisations we recommend here, or start out with a guided trip. We've also got a video series for you. 

Q15: How do you tramp in really windy conditions? (Like winds that can blow you off your feet) 

: Checking the weather beforehand, particularly the expected wind and gusts is important as anything over 50km/h is pretty difficult. If you still find yourself in these conditions, make a plan to get to a lower altitude if it's safe to do so. You may need to find a hut or at least a sheltered spot out of the wind and shelter for a while in your emergency shelter. Walk carefully, keeping your centre of gravity low and wide - walking poles can help. You might also try walking on the lee side of ridgelines where you'll be a bit less exposed. 

Q16: I usually carry my bivvy bag, would that be enough as shelter in case of an emergency?  

: This is a great example of an emergency shelter in a solo situation, but most of the time you'll be with others. Consider a shelter that can warm the whole group up quickly, or keep you dry in a torrential downpour. A tent fly, bothy bag or tarp can all do this well. 

Q17: What is your no 1 things you need in a first aid kit? 

Bevan: This totally depends on what you're doing, who is going and how many people are in the group. Limiting it to one thing is a bit of a challenge though! Pro Tip: think about the more common injuries and ensure you've customised your kit to suit. In the top of my pack, I always have a few plasters and a roll of strapping tape to prevent blisters. Learn more here. 

Q18: What would be the best type of gear to carry for emergencies when you are with just one other person when doing a hike in an area that doesn't have service? 

 At the very least, carry the essentials. You can find this for your intended walk at  

Q19: What can you recommend for a basic survival kit?  
 Some basic items to help you in a survival situation: 

  • Communications devices, such as a Personal Location Beacon (PLB). 
  • Emergency shelter – You'll want a survival bag or a 'pack-liner' that doubles as a personal emergency shelter, PLUS a tent, fly or bothy-bag for longer trips. 
  • Fire-lighting equipment (matches/lighter and a fire-lighting aid like rubber and a candle, and put these in a waterproof bag) 
  • Safety whistle
  • Cord or string
  • Sharp knife
  • First Aid Kit
  • Plastic bags
  • Pencil and paper

Q20: Where is the best place to purchase topographical maps from? 

Bevan: LINZ list all the places where you can buy a map  

Don't miss out more Campfire Questions from Part 1

Watch the full Safety and Survival Tips and Tricks video with MSC and Torpedo7 on Facebook or watch the edited version on Youtube.

If you have questions you would like answered by the Mountain Safety Council team, send an email to for it to feature in the next story.  

Before any outdoor adventure, read about the skills they will help you have a memorable trip.