Planing a hiking adventure? Great? Hiking offers many benefits for the body and mind. Regardless of the hiking you’re planning – a day walk along the oceanfront paths of Noosa National Park or multi-day hiking on the South Coast of NSW and Victoria, there are some items you should bring along to ensure a safe and fun adventure. In the hiking world, such necessities are called the 10 essentials. Navigation, food, water, sun protection, insulation, lighting, first aid, fire, tools, and shelter make up the standard list of the 10 essentials. As long as you have these goodies with you, you’re going to be well prepared.
The type of hiking you’re taking and your personal preferences will determine the navigation system to use. It can be a waterproof map, compass, watch and a pre-planned itinerary. You also use a GPS, but never without a map and compass. Don’t always rely on batteries or satellite accuracy.
What food to pack for hiking? This is the most common question among hikers. For shorter trips, a one-day food supply is a reasonable emergency stockpile in case of foul weather, faulty navigation, injuries, or other reasons that may delay a hiking trip. A long trek may require more, and on a cold hiking trip, remember that food equals warmth. The ideal hiking food does not require cooking, is easily digestible, and can be stored for long periods. Hiking food packs check all these requirements. Fast and nourishing, with these packs adventuring is never a problem. Wherever it is and no matter the pace, hiking food packs will keep you going. All you have to do is add water to the pouch.
Food packs go through a freeze-drying process where crystals of frozen ice in the food are evaporated to water vapour in a vacuum chamber. The result is a completely dry product that does not shrink during the drying process. When you add water to the pack, it’s quickly absorbed by the pores left by the crystals to give a juicy, tender food product.
Manufacturers formulated their meals to meet the high energy needs of outdoor activity and the ingredients are a careful mix of essential components needed for a healthy diet. This includes protein to replenish exhausted muscles, sugars and carbohydrates for instant energy, and oils and fat to keep you feeling full. With the wide range of food packs available, including meals, desserts, and meal complements, you won’t need to bring any other food with you. At the end of a long day of hiking, you’ll be thankful for the comfort of a delicious meal.
As there are effective pack meals, there are also effective ways to carry drinking water. Wide-mouth containers are easy to refill. Hydration bladders allow drinking without slowing your pace, but they are prone to leaking and freezing. In most environments, you’ll need to have the ability to treat water. This can be done by filtering, using purification chemicals or boiling.
Always use sunblock, chapstick for lips and sunglasses. Consider using long sleeve shirt, long pants and a hat for sun and insect protection.
Depending on the duration of your hiking you’ll need one or a few pair of socks and underwear, a pair of long hiking pants, one or two short-sleeve performance top. Depending on the weather you’ll encounter, you’ll want to pack a hard shell raincoat with hood and rain pants. Depending on the time of year or climate, consider taking a lightweight vest or jacket.
In the outdoors, a headlamp is the lighting of choice as it frees your hands for anything from climbing to cooking. Even if you plan to return before dark, you must carry a headlamp.
The efficient, bright LED bulb has totally replaced the inefficient incandescent bulb from before. But although an LED bulb lasts virtually forever, batteries do not, so always carry spares. If you decide to choose a rechargeable headlamp or batteries, start with a full charge. The average run time of the lamp is often displayed alongside the clock symbol on the packaging.
Any head lamp designed for outdoor use will be weatherproof, and a few models can survive submersion. All models allow the bean to be tilted down for close-up work, such as cooking or pointed up for looking in the distance. Some headlamps feature a low-power red LED to preserve night vision and help climbers avoid disturbing tent mates during nocturnal excursions.
Available in a range of shapes and sizes, when choosing head lamp keep in mind that the more jarring the activity, the less you’ll want it to weight. For example, hiking with a headlamp that is too heavy or built will cause it to bounce up and down with every move. On the other hand, if you’re cycling a relatively smooth paved road, the weight of the headlamp will be considerably less noticeable.
Also, pay attention to the way the headlamp fits. Some lamps offer a unique weight distribution by placing the battery pack on the back of the head. Models with a top strap can be the key to stability for some people but might mean irritation for another. Some headlamps come with the option of tilt, meaning the light itself can be moved manually up and down to allow you to see different areas around you.
Consider taking small packets of Benedryl, Imodium and Ibuprofen, sterile gauze bandages, a few band-aids, a pair of latex gloves, and two safety pins.
Bring with you a butane lighter and a small box of wooden matches. Cottom balls dipped in petroleum jelly for lighting fires can also be helpful.
Make sure you have a knife or multi-tool with you and a small gear-repair kit including zip ties, duct tape, etc.
You’ll need a tent that is lightweight, offers decent space, is sturdy and easy to assemble. You’ll also need a sleeping bag. Bags with down insulation are preferred over bags with synthetic insulation as they offer a much better “warmth to weight” ration and compressibility. For the sleeping pad, consider an inflatable pad as it’s light, comfortable and can be neatly folded and rolled into a small cylinder to fit into the backpack.
In addition to the above, I would recommend you to consider the 11th essential – hygiene. First of all, bring a little bottle of hand sanitiser and the appropriate amount of toilet paper with you. Second, make sure you’re familiar with leave-no-trace principles. Depending on the area you’ll be hiking, you’ll probably have to bury toilet paper. And make sure to pack a good trowel for digging holes to go number two. Keep all of your bathroom necessities (hand sanitiser, toilet paper and trowel) in a single bag that you can grab easily when nature calls.