There is growing interest in hiking with numerous groups forming and trails opening in and around our cities. Urban hiking is also growing – what better way to meet like-minded people, take in the environment and get fit as well?
A word of caution is necessary, you should be prepared for any eventuality that could arise while you’re out on the trail. Rapidly changing weather can bring about cold, rain and reduced visibility. You need to be prepared for this eventuality or your adventure could become uncomfortable. With this in mind, we have compiled a list of hiking essentials:
- Footwear – wear ankle-high boots. They will give your ankles added stability and help if you have to climb or clamber. Nothing ruins a hike like a sprained ankle. Ensure that your boots are waterproofed and comfortable or well ‘worn in’, otherwise, you could get painful blisters. Wear thick socks that are made of a natural fabric, or you could wear two pairs of thin socks.
- Clothing is weather dependent, if you opt for long trousers go for the type that allows you to zip off the legs if you get hot, decent technical trousers are great for this purpose.
- Navigation – take it all, a topographical map puts the landscape it into perspective. Back this up with a compass and also a G.P.S. unit.
- Sun Protection – take a broad-brimmed UV rated hat to protect your face and neck. Baseball style caps are generally unsuitable. sunglasses should block 100 UV. For added comfort get polarised lenses as they will reduce glare and also enable you to see into water without reflections. You should always use sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30.
- Insulation – take a waterproof jacket or poncho. If the weather turns, you can stay dry and warm. If you are unable to keep warm you could even get hypothermia.
- Your First Aid kit is critical. It should be easily accessible. It must be comprehensive and adequate for the duration of the hike, the prevailing conditions and the number of people in your group.
- Illumination – take a headlamp and flashlight. Small and powerful LED torches exist and a headlamp is very useful as it leaves your hands free to do other things. There are some really handy caps that have LED light mounted to the underside of the brim.
- Power Bank battery charger. If you are using your smartphone as a GPS or camera, you should take a powerbank in case your phone’s battery dies. It will also enable you to call for help in an emergency.
- Emergency kit – take a suitable knife, multi-tool, duct tape, cable ties, a whistle and mirror for signalling. The knife and multi-tool are great for food preparation as well.
- Fire – take waterproof matches or matches and a striker kept in a waterproof container. A ferro-rod striker as well as a gas or spirit lighter.
- Water – Take at least two litres per person per day. A collapsible hydration pack for additional water. A handheld water purifier is really useful if you are forced to drink from rivers or dams.
- Nutrition – double up on your normal daily requirement. Pack ‘trail mix’ and dehydrated foods. Take energy bars or packet soups/noodles even if you have to squeeze in a small pot.
- Shelter – A poncho or ‘space blanket’ can be turned into an emergency shelter. These are lightweight, compact and are therefore essential items. Take a few of them as well as a length paracord in case you have to rig up a shelter.
- Extras you should consider if space permits – throw in a few ziplock or resealable plastic bags as they are really useful and are multipurpose. You can keep your electrical devices dry if you need to cross a river.
- Don’t forget a roll of toilet paper!
Do you have anything to add? Please feel free to share your tips with everyone.