By STELIOS DARAKIS
10 Essential Things For Hiking...
Many people love nature and want to explore places where the only way to see them is to do a long hike. If you are not well prepared it can turn into a very unpleasant experience. In this article we will mention some basic things that you will need, based on our own experience after several hikes in different parts of the world.
A few years ago, we were hesitant to do a long hike, because we did not know what we need to take care of, in order to go beyond a long hike, which requires at least the basic equipment but also a good physical fitness that we fortunately had. Let’s take a look at some basic things you will need to take care of, if you want to get away from the ordinary and enjoy the beauty and freedom that a hiking trip offers to the traveller …
“A hike can turn into a very unpleasant experience if you are not well prepared.”
1) Hiking Shoes
I know! Most of you, like us a few years ago, you think you can do it just by wearing your sports shoes! So let me inform you that the hiking shoes was the best buy we did and really worth the money. Hiking shoes are designed exactly for this reason. The vibrations you get from the abnormal ground are minimized, your foot is very stable throughout the hike and the chances of getting injured are reduced to minimum, even in very difficult paths. The difference we felt on our feet and especially on our back by wearing hiking shoes compared to common athletic shoes was chaotic, especially on the long hikes we did this summer in Norway. The longest hike that we did was 12 hours long, in very difficult conditions through very rough paths on the mountains, and really our hiking shoes saved our lives.
An advice we give you is to prefer high boots instead to the low ones especially if you’re going to use them for difficult hikes and of course they have to be waterproof, look for the ”Goretex” sign. Hiking boots offer much greater safety than the lower ones, because they minimize the chances of twisting your foot. Their disadvantage, of course, is that they are heavier than the lower ones. You certainly would not want to twist your foot in the middle of a 12 hour hike at a height of 1000 meters …
100% essential accessory that you will need on a short or a long hike. There are very expensive backpacks that have much space and are really very convenient, but you can also do the work with a cheaper backpack that will have enough space for food, water bottles and enough room for some extra clothes. Emphasize on the quality because a very cheap bag, which is also overloaded, during a long hike will definitely tires you.
3) Food & Water
Something equally important to the previous ones, perhaps more important, is food and water supply that you will need during a hike. Throughout the hike, you need to have enough energy and also be well hydrated to cope with the difficulties along the way. Prefer snacks such as cereal bars, bread slices, rice cakes, crackers, biscuits, nuts etc. Avoid foods that add volume and weight to your back and prefer snacks that are lighter and give you energy for many hours. Water is the most important thing that you must have with you. When we say water, we obviously don’t mean 1 small bottle (500 ml) for a hike that can last up to 8 hours. In moderate to long hikes (over 4 hours) you should have at least 3-4 liters of water with you. If you are dehydrated, your performance will drop dramatically and you will certainly not be able to cope with the challenges ahead. An ideal choice is an isotonic drink with electrolytes for even better hydration of your body.
You are right! It doesn’t depend on you but you definitely should not start any hike unless you have been informed about the weather conditions prevailing in the area. The weather at high altitudes changes dramatically in just a few minutes, and so even one sunny day can turn very fast into a very unpleasant experience with extreme weather conditions. Never underestimate the power of nature and always put your safety first. Surely you may not have the chance to make your favorite hike at the moment but if you are not 100% sure don’t take the risk…
5) Waterproof Jacket
Following No.4, a waterproof jacket is an essential accesory for hiking. Even if the weather is good during the hike, you may get wet some time by passing near a waterfall, or even worse from a sudden storm, and believe us it is very difficult to walk wet on a mountain. If the wind blows, then things can get even worse and dangerous.
6) Hiking Gps App
Even if you are quite experienced a good gps application suitable for hiking is essential. Unfortunately, an application like google maps does not help you on the mountains, because it’s simply not designed for that reason. You can easily get panicked, if for example find yourself in a dense fog! Believe us, it is scary enough to not know where you going exactly and can’t even see at 100 meters ahead of you. An excellent application specially designed for hiking and various other activities such as mountain climbing, biking etc. is Komoot, which we use for many years and has saved our lives several times. With voice instructions just like a regular gps, but also many hiking ideas all over the world is an application that deserves its money and adds a bit more safety to your hike. The cost is 30 euros for unlimited use even for offline maps all over the world. We recommend it to you unreservedly!
7) Power Bank & Mobile Charger
Something very simple, but also very common to forget in our daily life. A Power Bank can be incredibly useful if for any reason you run out of battery in the middle of nowhere. It doesn’t get any space in the bag, it has no weight and its cost is less than 15 euros. Imagine running out of battery and you have to call for help. Just essential …
8) First Aid Kit
A small first aid kit is very useful in hiking and at least must contain some basic items such as cotton, betadin, bandage, hansaplast and some pain relief pills. You will find it easily in a supermarket or in a pharmacy.
9) Sun Protection
Are you wondering what a sunscreen can do for you on a mountain hike? After many hours of hiking, sun can be very harmful on your body and actually can be even worse than if you were on the beach. If we did not convince you, then see the photo below …
10) Pop Up Tent
A very useful tool for hiking if something goes wrong or you just want to overnight in a specific place. The pop-up tent will take you about 2-3 minutes to set up, as it pops off as easily as an umbrella and can accommodate 2-4 people with much comfort. Its weight is very light (about 2 kilos) depending on its size and its volume is as much as a backpack. See an example how it works here.