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Adventure Traveling and Hiking on Kauai

We had been planning a trip to Kauai and wanted it to be a little different than a typical tropical vacation. We wanted to stay in each region of Kauai and do as many day hikes as we could interspersed with snorkeling and swimming at the beach. I thought that if ultralight backpacking works for people hiking long distances, similar principles ought to work for general travel as well. Bringing minimal gear and luggage would allow us to have a different travel experience and be more spontaneous.

Kalalau Trail

Diane “Piper” Soini on the Kalalau Trail

It was nice to use a small utility style backpack for my carry on item on the plane and the Riksak for the small item limit as both would be used for a backpacking trip and day trips during our vacation. Because we had food items and trekking poles we brought a large suitcase to check those items in.

Type 2 Utility Backpack

At the Honolulu Airport with my Type 2 Utility Backpack and Riksack



Gear I brought for the entire trip included the following:

CategoryGear SelectionDetails
Carried on planeGossamer Gear Type 2 Utility Backpack
Gossamer Gear Riksak
Plastic Bagpack cover
Gossamer Gear Thinlight Pad- 1/8"
Pocket showerused as a stuff sack
Jacks-R-Better Quilt45 degree F rating
Equinox bivy sack
Two bathing suitsboard shorts and bikini tops
Three cotton/poly ladies t-shirtsvery light shirts
“Desert” shirt
One pair of hiking pants
One pair of hiking shorts
Two pair underwear
Fleece sleeves and hat Used for mosquitoes!
Chaco sandals
3 pairs of socksfor chafing with the sandals, one pair unused
Zpacks cuben fiber rain jacketwent unused
Rain skirtwent unused
Cookless kitchenscrew-top jar, bowl/cup and spoon
Sawyer Mini
Platypus bottle
Classic Swiss army knife
Safety pinsfor drying socks on back of pack
Ditty BagUL first aid and hygiene kit in bag
Hugh Tracy Kalimba Musical Instrument
Checked in luggage Homemade dehydrated backpacking food
Chrome Umbrellafor sun at the beach
Gossamer Gear LT4 Poles
Two person shelter
Ground Cloth
Tent Stakes
Purchased in KauaiBeach towel
Snorkel gear

I was able to bring what I needed for the backpacking portion of our trip along with other essentials for travel in the two small packs.

We started our trip in the Wiamea area. We did a number of great day hikes in Koke’e State Park. Our first hike was a nice loop with the local Sierra Club to a lookout in Wiamea Canyon.

Wiamea Canyon

Wiamea Canyon from a side trail off the Ditch Trail

Be sure to read part two of this article!

9 Responses to Adventure Traveling and Hiking on Kauai

  1. Jarrett January 12, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    Thanks for the share. It looks like a great trip. I always have a soft spot waterfalls and looks like some good ones on your adventure.

  2. Bill Sheehy January 13, 2015 at 11:24 am #

    Thanks for a great story and photos.

  3. Karen January 15, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

    What are your stove, pot, and tent?

  4. Evan Ravitz January 15, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

    On Hawaii’s Big Island we use micro fleece blankets. I also have a liner made out of a sheet.I use a Golite Hex tent, AKA the Shangri-la for base camping. I use Gossamer Gear’s cuben tarp for backpacking.

  5. Diane Soini January 16, 2015 at 8:13 am #

    We did not cook. Whenever we go together, I carry the poles and ground sheet and Tony carries the tent.

  6. carolinehelbig January 28, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

    Thanks, great post. I’ve always wanted to go to Kauai and do some hiking. I look forward to reading more about your hiking adventures. Thanks for the follow.

  7. Jay March 3, 2016 at 11:52 am #

    Whats a pocket shower?

  8. lavapix March 3, 2016 at 9:36 pm #

    Hopefully for your sake they didn’t have drum circles. They really do defeat the purpose of hiking so far to get away from it all. First time I hiked there, I was the only person in the valley. A trip to The Big Island requires anything from a sheet to a zero degree bag for adventurous backpacking. You picked a great year for that Kauai trip. One of the driest winters ever. Looked fun.

  9. Glen K Van Peski March 5, 2016 at 5:44 pm #

    I’m impressed with the 1/8″ foam for the only sleeping pad. Maybe I need to rethink my 3/8″ and shave some ounces.

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