“What’s the best hiking shop in Melbourne?” It’s a question asked all the time in the Hiking in Australia and New Zealand group. Fortunately, Melbourne, like other Australian cities, has one street in particular whose purpose seems to be dedicated to hooking up budding outdoors people with quality gear and that’s Little Bourke Street in Melbourne CBD. Let’s take a bit of a tour of this street for outdoors-lovers.
Entering the street from busy Elizabeth Street you’re greeted by Crumpler on the corner of Somerset Place. Not really known as a place to buy hiking gear, they do stock a range of quality day packs and travel gear. Somerset Place use to be home to Backpacking Light, but more about them as we move up the street.
Across the road you have The Walking Company. Nestled next to a couple of Asian eateries, these guys are the hiking footwear specialists. They stock Ahnu, Columbia, Hi-Tec, Jack Wolfskin, Keen, Merrell, Salomon, Teva, and other quality hiking shoe brands. They’re also staffed by people that know how to fit a boot. If you’re after the perfect pair of boots, check them out.
Two shops in and need caffeinating? Brother Baba Budan, next to One Planet, is one of the best cafes in Melbourne. And, when it comes to Australian hiking brands, One Planet is one of the best. Their backpacks are known for being endorsed by the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia. And their sleeping bags and tents are of a high quality too. (I have had one of their Sac synthetic bags for 10 years and it is still going strong.)
One Planet’s next door neighbour is police and military gear specialists, Platatac. Worth a look for something a bit different, or if you have a thing for camo.
One of the better known stores on Little Bourke Street is Paddy Pallin. With 13 stores across Australia, Paddy’s is synonymous with the Australian outdoors—I bought my first big backpack, a Macpac, back when they stocked the brand, at their Adelaide store in 2015—and quality, technical hiking gear. Their large store at 360 stocks everything the serious hiker is going to need. The staff are knowledgable and friendly. Paddy’s is always recommended when people ask about places to buy hiking gear in Melbourne.
Across the road from Paddy Pallin, on the corner of Rankins Lane, is The Outdoor Traveller, a travel company. They’re not strictly hiking tour specialists but can arrange trips to places like Everest Base Camp, Inca Trail, and Milford Track. Just the thing you’ll be dreaming of once you’ve been kitted out by one of the gear shops.
A few doors up, in the old Mountain Designs space, is one of the street’s best smaller gear stores: Backpacking Light. As the name suggests, they specialise in lightweigh—and ultralight—hiking equipment. Their aren’t many top quality hiking brands they don’t stock, from Aarn to Kovea to MSR to Wilderness Equipment. I believe they’re the only stockists of Montane Clothing in Australia, and seem to have a skew to helping kit up hikers off to do the Camino De Santiago. Great staff and so much advice. Support ’em.
From small and fiercely independent to one of the bigger chain players, Macpac. Located across from Backpacking Light on the corner of Niagara Lane (it’s Melbourne—everywhere has a connection to a laneway) Macpac spreads across two floors, with clothing upstairs, and gear downstairs. It’s a great place to get fairly decent gear on sale—they’re always having a sale; as I sit here typing this in my $55 merino tee. Pro tip: don’t pay full price, wait for them to have one of their 45-time-a-year-or-so-it-seems sales.
And our journey up Melbourne’s premiere hiking gear hubs comes to an end with another independent player in Bogong. Bogong has an air of these-guys-know-their-stuff as soon as you walk into this warm and cabin-like place, with the way the gear is merchandised and the confidence and quality of the advice. Named after Victoria’s tallest mountain, Mount Bogong, some notable brands they stock include Arc’teryx, Exped, Mont, and Rab. Brands that are among the best and are indicative of how seriously these guys take their hiking.
Near Little Bourke Street, but on Elizabeth Street, you will also find Kathmandu, The North Face, and Aussie Disposals if you’re so inclined. But, without doubt, this little street is Melbourne’s hiking gear destination. Further afield there are reputable hiking stores to be found, including The Wilderness Shop out in Box Hill, and Vast and Outsports out in Moorabbin. Handy if you’re out in the east, or try to avoid the city.
So, there you have it. A guide to Melbourne’s best hiking stores. If you’re looking to kit up for your first hike, or for that next big trip, Little Bourke Street is the best place to start.