To best enjoy the great outdoors it’s important that you have the right kit. Having the wrong hiking gear could not only be dangerous but it could make what could be a really enjoyable day out to be pretty uncomfortable and unenjoyable.
For days out the list of stuff you need is somewhat different to the list if you were to be staying out for the night but only in so far that it is trimmed down.
Below is a hiking gear list of 10 things you should consider very carefully and not be without;
This very much depends on the terrain and the climate. If you are hiking along the flat ground in 20 degree heat then there is no need to be wearing fully waterproof hiking boots, hiking shoes would make far more sense.
You don’t need the support in the ankles and your feet aren’t at risk of suffering from the cold. That said you wouldn’t consider heading into snowy conditions with hiking sandals on, you would opt for the waterproof boots. This sounds really obvious, even amusing that people would consider heading into the snow with anything but waterproof boots but I’ve seen it first hand, which is frightening.
Footwear is particularly important as it’s your feet that get the most abuse whilst your hiking and keeping them comfortable and pain free means more enjoyable miles without having to worry about the agony that they could give you. Socks play a large part here also.
Socks are a broad topic but the right hiking socks and combination of socks can keep your feet drier and blister free again making your hikes more enjoyable.
Your clothing is another essential area you have to consider. From your underwear to the thickness of your clothing, the amount of clothing you take for the day and even the material it is made of. I’ll come back and discuss this point in more detail in other articles but hiking gear is designed for hiking and as such is fit for the purpose.
Jeans for example are not designed for hiking, if they get wet they get sticky and make walking difficult, you then get cold and they don’t dry which exposes you to the possibility of hyperthermia.
03 First Aid Kit
When you are miles from the nearest road you need to be able to dress a wound should you be unfortunate enough to wound yourself. This also includes the all too frequent blister that, as hikers, we all have the misfortune of picking up from time to time.
Without a first aid kit or blister plasters, you have no way of delaying the development of blisters. These can become excruciating and can completely ruin a good day out.
Everything needs fuel to function and humans are no different. At 80 kg I burn around 100 calories every mile I walk and as such, I need to fuel this otherwise unlike the Duracell Bunny I would slowly but surely grind to a halt.
It’s no good just stuffing yourself full with high-calorie rubbish either you need to consider carefully what you eat and ensure that it will give you use energy, there is nothing worse than feeling that you are dragging yourself around the hillside for mile after mile.
As well as food we need water and quite a bit of it. This is essential, dehydration can bring on all sorts of problems such as weakness, dizziness, confusion and even fainting. These are far from pleasant symptoms and can be potentially dangerous so it is vital you carry sufficient water to keep yourself hydrated.
Do consider though that you can drink too much. Drinking too much water can flush out all of the important electrolytes and salts that your body needs. The amount of water you need varies from person to person but when you pass water it should be roughly the color of Chardonnay. Too clear and your drinking too much and too dark, you’re not drinking enough.
Always take a hat suitable for the conditions you are venturing out in. If it is hot for example then take a wide brimmed hat which will keep the sun off your face and neck and will help to minimize sunburn.
Naturally you should be wearing sun cream if the sun is beating down but a hat acts as a further barrier for you. It also helps to keep the sun out of your eyes. If it’s cold and windy a woolly hat is essential.
A lot of your body heat escapes out of your head so this helps to keep your body warm and saves on headaches and earache which are both distinctly unpleasant.
07 Map / Compass
You must always carry a suitable map and compass and most importantly know how to use them, it is no use having them and not being able to follow your route or establish your position should you need to.
I’ve been out in the mountains at times and been approached by people asking me to show them where they are on their map, which was a printout of a 3D google map. You can’t navigate or establish where you are from that so if you get lost or take a wrong how can you possibly get back on track.
If you end up being stuck out on the mountain and you don’t have the proper kit then the possibilities are not even worth thinking about.
08 Sun protection
As well as hat you should carry sun cream. Even when it appears that the sun isn’t too ferocious it can get to you. If the wind is blowing and cooling you down you might not be aware that the sun is in fact singeing you.
Likewise with the snow, whilst it may be bitterly cold the reflection of the snow can double the effect of the sun whilst it’s rays reflect off the snow and burns you with twice the ferocity. So it is always wise to stick it on and avoid the possibility of you getting burnt.
09 Torch / Headtorch
If for any reason something doesn’t go according to plan and your hike ends up taking longer than you expect (it might only take an extra hour) the sun may well be down and darkness could set in. Without a torch how do you see the terrain you are trying to navigate or even the map you are trying to navigate from? You can’t which makes the chance of an accident all the more likely.
With all the above to carry you’re going to struggle to carry it without a bag (unless you have really deep pockets). So take a backpack to carry it all in. These have come a long way over the years and where they could be really uncomfortable, hiking backpacks are designed for comfort so that you don’t really know that they’re there.
You can’t be without any of the above and a backpack means you can carry it all conveniently. It is a good idea to always consider the weight you are carrying too, the more weight you carry the more tiring the hiking so lightweight hiking gear is always preferable.
The internet is brimming with deals and offers for all kinds of kits. Be wary when buying equipment however as cheap hiking gear tends to be just that and will not stand the test of time potentially letting you down when you need it most. As with anything you will be able to get discount hiking gear in the sales when they are on. Either way it is essential that you buy a good quality kit which you can rely on and will last.