There is growing interest in hiking with numerous groups forming and trails opening in and around our cities. Urban hiking is growing, what better way to meet like-minded people, take in the environment and get fit as well.
But a word of caution is necessary, one should be prepared for any eventuality that could arise, I have hiked in the Drakensberg as well as the Fells in England where rapidly changing weather brought about cold and totally reduced visibility. Fortunately, I was relatively prepared and had taken a bearing to the point of our departure so was able to get back safely. In fact, I was able to assist fellow hikers who were less prepared and had small children who needed a drink and snack. Given this in mind I have compiled a list of hiking essentials:
- Wear ankle high boots that help if you have to climb or clamber, nothing worse than a sprained ankle. See that the boots are waterproofed and worn in otherwise you could get painful blisters. It advisable to wear thick socks that are of a natural fabric or alternatively to pairs of thin socks.
- Clothing is weather dependent, if you opt for long trousers go for the type that allows you to zip off the legs if you get hot, decent technical trousers are great for this purpose.
- Navigation – take it all, a topographical map puts it into perspective, backed up with a compass and G.P.S.
- Sun Protection – take a broad-brimmed hat to protect your face and neck, peak caps are generally unsuitable, sunglasses should block 100 UV and sunscreen should be a minimum of SPF 30
- Insulation – take a waterproof jacket or poncho –should the weather turn you can stay dry and warm, the protracted cold could even lead to hypothermia.
- Your First Aid kit is critical it should be easily stowed and adequate for the duration of the hike, conditions and group size.
- Illumination – take a headlamp and flashlight, small yet powerful torches exist and a headlamp is useful as it is handsfree.
- Emergency kit- take a small knife, multi-tool, duct tape and a whistle and mirror for signalling. The knife and multi-tool are great for food preparation as well.
- Fire – take waterproof matches or matches and a striker kept in a waterproof container, ferro-rod striker as well as a normal lighter.
- Sufficient water at least two litres per person with a collapsible hydration pack for spare water- also look at a handheld water purifier
- Nutrition – double up on your normal daily requirement, pack trail mix and dehydrated foods, energy bars or packet soups/noodles even if you have to squeeze in a small pot.
- Shelter – your poncho can be turned into an emergency shelter as can a space blanket – take a few as well as some paracord in case you have to rig the shelter.
- Space permitting, throw in a few ziplock or resealable plastic bags for good measure . And don’t forget a rool of toilet paper.
Anything to add? Please feel free to share your tips with us.