Always dreamt of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania? Trekking to Machu Picchu in Peru? Hiking through Yosemite National Park in California, USA? These expeditions aren’t for the faint of heart and will require some essential gear – so we’ve written this guide to show you exactly what you’ll need.
Besides becoming physically fit and ready for the challenge, here are the other things you’ll need to prepare before your journey.
Of course, you can’t go backpacking without a proper backpack. Your bag needs to hold all your essentials for however long your journey takes while being lightweight and comfortable – which is no easy feat.
Brands such as Osprey, Granite Gear, and Venture have been manufacturing touring and hiking backpacks for years. Go to a well-established outdoor gear manufacturer and try on some bags. You need to make sure you’ll be comfortable enough carrying it on your shoulders for hours, so this is one purchase you shouldn’t take lightly and be prepared to splash out on.
Check in with other adventurous friends and ask for their opinions on the best bags they’ve used to help get you started.
You won’t get far on your epic adventure without suitable footwear. Again, this is another essential item you can’t afford to scrimp on, so be willing to invest in some sturdy footwear to protect your feet. After all, they are what will be carrying you the whole way – treat them with some respect!
Professional hiking, climbing or worker’s boots are vital. Depending on where you’re planning to head, different shoe types are recommended. For example, climbing shoes are flexible yet tough, while regular walking boots or those for traversing rocky mountains should be properly enforced with steel toecaps.
Check out sites like Footwear 4 Workers to find and compare quality hiking footwear that will keep your feet safe from injury in the toughest of conditions.
Protecting yourself out in the elements is key. Getting caught in a rainstorm on a hike can at best make you wet and uncomfortable for a few hours, or at worst, mean you develop hypothermia and need urgent medical attention.
Every backpacker needs a good waterproof jacket (and maybe trousers) to ward off the cold. Serious waterproofs don’t come cheap, but that’s because they’re made from materials that have been tested and proven to provide the best protection. Seek out materials like Gore-Tex, which is developed to be waterproof yet breathable to allow for temperature regulation.
The layers under your jacket or trousers are important too. You’ll need thermals and sweat-wicking clothing layers to help keep you dry and maintain a comfortable temperature.
- Sleeping Equipment
A warm, soft, lightweight sleeping bag will act like the best hug in the world after a long day of walking and climbing. If you’re heading to a place where the temperature sharply dips at night, you’ll need a sleeping bag that can keep you warm in cold conditions.
Make sure you do your research on the best sleeping bags for the climate you’re traveling in. Finding that you’re shivering at night will mean you’ll have to cut your trip short. As well as this, it needs to be compact and light enough to carry on your back all day.
Consult with your hiking and mountaineering friends as to which brands they love, but check out trusted brands like REI, Patagonia and Montbell for quality, lightweight sleeping bags. The best, warm bags will have “mummy” sleeping hoods that cover your head, good ventilation, and some even have insulated hand and feet pockets to give your extremities extra protection.
- Medical Necessities
It should go without saying that a first aid kit is crucial when you’re out in the wilderness. But what should it contain?
Here’s a list of what must feature in your kit:
- Antiseptic wipes
- Antihistamine tablets
- Ibuprofen tablets
- Medical adhesive tape
- Sterile pads
- Safety pins
- Duct tape
- Hand sanitizer
- Non-latex medical gloves
- Blister band-aids
- Fine-point tweezers
- Antibacterial ointment
- Finger splints
- Rehydration sachets
- Diarrhea medication
- Aloe vera gel
- Glucose gel
Of course, you will also need to bring any regular medication you take. There may also be necessary items for the place you’re visiting, such as mosquito repellent if that’s a problem in the area. Take the time to find out the hazards in the country or area and pack your kit accordingly.
There are plenty other vital items you’ll need to bring – like your tent, deodorant, plenty of spare underwear, and obviously food and water. How much you take will depend on the length of your trip. There is an art to packing a backpack for expeditions that are longer than a few days, but practice makes perfect!
Start with smaller trips and soon you’ll be a pro at knowing what you need for your adventures. Bon voyage!