Welcome to the world of hiking. When wandering through natural environments, preparation is key to having a good experience. So, if you are reading this, that means you have taken the first correct step in getting ready for your hike. This guide has been created mainly for beginner hikers, but more experienced hikers may find something interesting in here as well.
What Do You Need For Hiking, and How Can You Cultivate The Right Mindset?
Many people mistakenly believe that hiking is just an overrated way of walking. There’s much more to hiking than just the mechanical aspect of it. Unlike general walking, you set out on a hike with a sense of purpose and with a goal. Achieving this gives you a sense of accomplishment, which goes a long way in your journey through life. On the trail, the sights, and sounds of nature can calm your stress and bring serenity to your mind.
What Clothes Do You Need For Your Hike?
Given that hiking allows for flexibility in attire, it’s important to prioritise key factors like comfort, protection, safety, and weather when choosing your clothes and hiking gear. Unfortunately, some individuals overlook these fundamental rules regarding clothing.
- Sweat Proof Base Layers – Stick to moisture-wicking fabrics like merino wool or synthetic blends to keep sweat at bay. Avoid cotton, as it will soak and leave you chilled.
- Supportive hiking boots – your most important piece of equipment. As a sport, when investing in essentials for multiday or day hiking, ensure priority is given to your shoes. Obtain waterproof, supportive boots that offer good traction. Sneakers are not recommended as they will affect your ankles and ability to continue the hike for extended periods.
- Extra Clothing – Pack layers! A long-sleeved shirt and a fleece or rain jacket for chillier moments, even on sunny days. The altitudes and shade cast by mountains will sometimes make for chilly atmospheres.
- Hiking Pants – Breathability and flexibility are key features. Pants with convertible legs offer ultimate adaptability. Denims are definitely not counted as hiking clothing.
Day Pack Essentials for Hiking
Your backpack will be your best friend on your long journey. When packing, strike a balance between packing essentials and avoiding unnecessary weight. You will be carrying your pack the whole time, so a heavy pack will slow you down. Here are our smart packing tips.
- The Best Hiking Pack – Choose a size suitable for your day trip needs. Ensure that it has comfortable straps and compartments for easy access. Tempted by fanny packs? It may seem suitable for a short stroll, but not a hike. Use fanny packs in addition to your main backpack for light, small, frequently needed items.
- Water Bottle – If you had to pick just one thing to take along with you, with or without a backpack, it should be a water bottle. Aim for at least 2 litres, more in hot weather. Reusable bottles are eco-friendly and recommended.
- When packing snacks for the journey, consider snacks with the most nutritional value in minute doses, as you cannot carry an excessive amount of weight. Snacks with a balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins help to keep your energy levels up. Ideally, they should last long without refrigeration or special storage and have minimal packaging to reduce the waste generated. Energy bars, trailmix, and dried fruits are healthy options that are great for providing energy for long hikes.
- Sun Protection – Sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat are your best defences against the sun. SPF 30+ is the minimum; reapply often; and don’t forget your ears! Do not use tanning oil as it will cause a painful sunburn due to extended exposure to the sun.
- First Aid and Emergency kit – Some recommended first aid items are a few basic items to treat wounds and minor cuts, medication for headaches and indigestion, insect repellant and leech bites, and other insect sting treatments.
- Emergency items – duct tape, safety pins, and a multi-tool for minor gear fixes. Maybe a needle and thread will be useful for an unexpected tear in your camping gear during a multiday hike.
Extra Items You Might Find Useful While Hiking
Here we have listed some items that are not fundamental to hiking but are good to have if you can manage to get hold of them.
- Trekking poles are great for achieving extra stability and support, especially on uneven terrain.
- Get yourself a rain jacket or raincoat that is packable and lightweight; it guards against surprise showers and keeps you dry on the move. Umbrellas might be more hazardous than helpful, as they will catch the wind.
Some Additional Advice and Tips
- Don’t leave anything behind. Respect the environment, and let nature’s beauty remain pristine.
- Ensure to tell someone your route and expected return time. Safety first, always!
- Download an offline map and get yourself a reliable compass. Technology can fail, but basic navigation skills never will. Maybe get a printed map in case of a low battery situation. If possible, carry a power bank to make sure you stay connected.
- If you are someone who enjoys spotting wildlife and birds while on the trail, consider taking a comprehensive bird book to help you identify some of the more uncommon types.
- For beginners, read a bit about people’s experiences on hikes, where they might share some useful tips that they learned the hard way. Watch videos and listen to podcasts like this one from Stuart Butler, where he talks about the adventures and stories of hiking on The Pekoe Trail, a 300 km hiking trail forged through the breathtaking hill country of Sri Lanka. This hike is one of the newest hiking challenges in Sri Lanka and is great for beginners to enjoy. There are many places in Sri Lanka for hiking, and you will have an amazing hiking experience that will leave you craving more.
With these hiking essentials for beginners, you’re ready to conquer the trail and embrace the magic of hiking. So, lace up, grab your pack, and step into the adventure!