What separates the pros from the no-goes? Their understanding of the importance of these KEY hiking essentials.
One small step for man
The longest journey begins with a single step.
Well, not quite.
The best journeys begin well before that single step is taken.
Writing (and following) a hiking checklist before you begin your adventure ensures that your journey is well-planned, well-resourced and well-remembered for the RIGHT reasons.
You need the right equipment, the right clothing and the right attitude to make your backpacking experience a positive one. So, without further ado…
Hiking essentials for the modern hiker
Remember learning about Burke and Wills when you were in school? Intrepid explorers forging their way from the very south to the very north of Australia. The brave men battled against weather and wilderness before their epic quest ended in tragedy and they became too weak to continue.
If only they’d had an updated navigation system.
The modern hiker is absolutely blessed with a bounty of technology to choose from. Rather than pull away from the traditional experience, these crafty pieces of machinery are designed to enhanced it. You can go further, stay out for longer and see far more of the landscape than ever before.
Our advice? A comprehensive navigation system that encompasses:
• GPS receiver
• Altimeter (including barometric sensor to measure air pressure when hiking at altitude)
• Current topographic map
• Good old-fashioned compass
The heat is on
Hikers can easily become overwhelmed and fatigued when the harsh Australian sun comes into play. Ensuring that you have appropriate and responsive sun protection should be close to the top of your hiking checklist.
Sunscreen, sunglasses and hats are ‘gimmes’ when it comes to sun protection. However, the savvy hiker will also invest in clothing that is responsive to sun, sweat and heat. These lightweight materials should come with a high UPF index that will guarantee you’ll be kept light and breezy on your hike.
Baby, it’s cold outside
The flip side of the coin when it comes to hiking essentials is the need to appropriately react to temperature changes. You’re going to want to invest in clothing that can be both easily applied and easily carried. Something that will keep you warm should the worst happen.
Research before your backpacking adventure. What are the possible temperature extremes? Plan your wardrobe accordingly.
Throw the water on ‘em
You need to carry with you at LEAST one water bottle, a collapsible water reservoir and a filtration system.
Again, the well-planned and intelligent traveller will have put some thought into journey planning. Using your navigation system, ensure you have knowledge of nearby available water holes before beginning your trip.
I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts
Nutrition should be close to the top of your hiking checklist. How much food do you need for your journey? Add two more days.
Simple food that doesn’t have to be cooked is best. Energy bars, protein packed snacks and self-contained meals are ideal. Be cautious, however, of how you plan on disposing of any waste or rubbish.
Doctor, doctor, give me the news
Recent, working knowledge of first aid AND a first aid kit are two definite hiking essentials.
It’s easy to access first aid training courses. They are generally low or no cost and training is provided by professionals. You’ll learn how to dress and attend to wounds and breaks, how to manage poisonous bites and what to do in serious emergencies.
Carrying a ready-made first aid kit (rather than one you construct on your own) will mean that you’re ready for just about anything. Bandages, dressings, treatments, tweezers – it’s all there neatly packed away and ready to access.
There’s a light
Can you light a fire? Make sure that you have appropriate fire starting equipment with you in case you need to.
By the same token, having appropriate lighting will mean that if you find yourself still hiking after night fall you’ll be able to see your way home. Something hands free, like a head torch, is your safest bet.
Other hiking essentials
Some other elements you might like to include if you’re a serious contender:
• Insect repellent
• Shelter building materials (tarp, space blanket, rubbish bag)
• Tools (like knives and duct tape)
• Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or a flare
And I Will Walk 500 More
Backpacking and hiking are activities that really get to the core of who we are. They offer time for quiet reflection, a test of physical endurance and a peaceful connection with nature. Ensuring you’ve packed the hiking essentials means that you’ll be able to spread the good news about hiking – rather than be on the news!
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