Trekking may just seem like walking for a long time up and down hills (and to a certain extent, it is), but there’s usually a lot of preparation required to do it successfully.
It’s in the nature of treks to take you well away from your comfort zone, infrastructure, first aid facilities and all the other hallmarks of civilisation. It’s probably going to be colder, higher and more remote than anything you’ve experienced before. That means you need to pack accordingly. There aren’t many gift shops and equipment vendors on the upper slopes of Mt Toubkal or Everest. Remember: research your chosen destination thoroughly before the departure lounge.
While each trek is slightly different, and what you pack should vary depending on climate, altitude, facilities, length of the walk and so on, there are a few basics everyone should take. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive guide, but a guide for when you’re exhausted (see what we did there?).
- Day pack or light backpack: preferably something durable with strong, padded straps and a clip around your waist. It helps distribute the weight more evenly.
- Good shoes: invest in some dedicated hiking boots, and make sure to wear them in long before the trek.
- Sunscreen and sunglasses: high altitudes, reflective snow and lack of cloud cover are a recipe for sunburn.
- Hiking socks: get proper socks, usually a nylon/wool blend, that will insulate your feet and not retain moisture. Pro tip: wear two pairs at once to avoid blisters.
- Blister cream/compeed blister patches/bandaids: blisters happen to the best of us, even with two pairs of socks. Save yourself a lot of pain and be prepared.
- Water bottle: never leave home without it.
- Head/pocket torch: you’ll thank yourself when you need to find the toilet in the dark.
Good to have
- Insect repellent: not necessary everywhere, but one of the worst thing to forget when you really need it.
- Toilet paper: you can’t rely on facilities when you’re 1,500 metres above sea level.
- Walking poles: studies have shown you’ll save a lot of strain by using these, particularly in your knees. Try to get the telescopic ones so they fold up small.
- Camera: an obvious one, but don’t forget to take extra batteries and memory cards or film.
- Ziplock bags: great for keeping trail mix fresh and keeping important things dry.
- Convertible hiking trousers: when the sun comes out, being able to unzip your calves and transform trousers into shorts is a godsend.
- Sleeping bag liner: helps keep your sleeping bag clean and still keeps out the insects if you want to ditch the heavy bag on hot nights.
- Thin scarf: Ultra versatile. Great for keeping your neck warm, your head cool, and the sun out of your face.
- Water purifying tablets: great when you’re crossing a suspicious stream.
- Tennis ball: after a long day’s walk, stand on one of these and roll it under each foot. It’ll ease those tired arches.
- Hand warmers: try to get the thermal ones. One crack and you’ve got 30 minutes of glorious heat.
- Chocolate: there’s no better energy boost during a hike, or as a treat at the end of a long day.
- Slippers: a small pair of woollen slippers will make pottering around the tent at night oh-so comfortable, and your feet deserve a little pampering after all that work.
- Travel pillow: you can get roll up or inflatable pillows at most outdoor stores. Read reviews online first to save yourself a lumpy night’s sleep.
Got your bag all packed? Find your Intrepid trek here.
Image c/o Ray Bouknight, Flickr