A Hike Packing List

So, you’ve decided where you want to walk on your first hike, but what do you take?

Knowing what equipment to take is a very important part of a hike’s preparation. Start with a basic list and adapt it over time to the hikes you do and your own needs. Take into account factors such as:

  • where you’re planning to hike
  • types of accommodation available
  • how many people you’re hiking with
  • and how much you’re prepared to carry.

As examples:

  • if you’re planning to hike in a warm dry place, wet weather clothing is unnecessary and just extra weight to carry
  • if there are huts to sleep in at the camp sites you may not need a tent
  • and other factors similar to these.

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The basic packing list below is a guide only and doesn’t take into account item weights, which is discussed in a later post. It’s important to get a feel for the types of items you should take and work from there.

If you’re unsure what the items on the list are for or why you should take them, check the notes at the bottom, or the more detailed descriptions in future posts.

The list is grouped into sections for convenience based upon when they are required.

Base Equipment

  • Hiking Pack
  • Walking Poles
  • Camera and Carry Case
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Mat
  • Water Bladder
  • Whistle
  • Plastic Trowel*

Day Clothes

  • Hiking Boots
  • Boot Collars*
  • Socks Wool
  • Sock Liners*
  • Underwear
  • Hiking Pants/Shorts
  • Hiking Shirt
  • Hat/Bandana
  • Sunglasses

Easy Access Equipment

  • Compass
  • Money/Cash Card
  • Maps, Itinerary
  • Duct Tape
  • Toilet Paper
  • Alcohol Based Hand Wash
  • Insect Repellant
  • Sunscreen
  • Head Torch
  • Pen and Paper
  • First Aid Kit including Survival Blanket
  • Pocket Knife
  • Pack Cover
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Empty Plastic Bottle
  • GPS/Emergency Beacon

Night Clothes

  • Wool Socks
  • Underwear
  • Thermal Shirt
  • Thermal Pants
  • Fleece Jacket
  • Beanie
  • Flip-Flops
  • Gloves
  • Hiking Towel

At Camp Equipment

  • Cooking Stove
  • Cooking Pot, Lid & Handle
  • Plastic Mug
  • Pocket Knife
  • Gas Cylinder
  • Deodorant
  • Cutlery
  • Water Treatment Tablets/Device*
  • Lighter
  • Matches (Waterproof)
  • Scourer
  • Sewing Kit
  • Lightweight Durable Cord*
  • Spare Batteries
  • A Book
  • Toothbrush/Paste
  • Wet Wipes
  • Small Lightweight Garbage Bags*

Notes:

*Plastic trowels are for digging latrine holes if no toilets are available or for water channels if it’s likely to rain heavily at a camp site.
*Boot collars prevent small stones and sand from getting into your boots.
*Sock liners are a small lightweight pair of socks worn under hiking socks to help prevent blisters.
*Water treatment tablets/device should be used if you’re in any way unsure of water quality.
*Durable cord is useful in a number of ways: hanging food bags, extra tent support in windy weather, back up shoe laces, washing lines etc.
*Garbage bags are best used for keeping other bags dry within your pack and for carrying garbage.

Food is also an important, but as there are several options, details are provided in a future post.

Always check your equipment against you list at least twice before leaving home to ensure nothing is forgotten.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

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Finding Your First Hike

So, you decided to go hiking for the first time. Not one of those short bush walks either, a real overnight hike out into the wilderness somewhere. But that’s the big question, where?

Finding a hike is fairly easy. The world is a big place and there are many beautiful wonders. And no doubt, there are some near where you live and someone has walked there. When choosing your first hike, take the following things into consideration:

  • It shouldn’t be too difficult.
  • Length doesn’t matter, a shorter hike will give you a feel for hiking, while a longer hike will teach you more.
  • A popular hike is usually, but not always, better organised and better marked.
  • Hiking closer to civilisation is better should something go wrong.
  • It should have camp sites with toilet facilities and available water.
  • You should do your first hike with a group or at least with one other person.
  • Get as much information as you can before you go.

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Here are some ways to find a hike in your local community:

  1. Join a hiking group
    • Your local hiking and adventure store should have a list of groups in your area. The more focused the store, the more likely they will know of groups.
    • Meetup.com is a good site to meet other hikers as there are many hiking groups listed, and no it’s not a dating site. Make an account – it’s free – and search for a group in your local area. You should get plenty of feedback from other members about what would be a good hike. You might even find someone to hike with if you don’t have anyone else.
  1. Your local hiking or adventure store
  2. While a large warehouse store might not have much information beyond a small library of books or maps, a smaller more focused store generally can give a lot of advice about the hikes in the local area, gear required and suitability. They will also have a similar small library of books and maps.
    • Government websites
  1. The Queensland State Government in Australia has set up many hikes around the state and information is found here: http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/experiences/great-walks/ The site provides a lot of information to help with the planning of your hike. Your State, Provincial or Local government might also have a similar sites. The hikes listed are often better set up than many other hikes, and are perfect starting points for ongoing hiking.
  1. National Park Ranger Stations
  2. Most national park rangers have a vast knowledge of the hikes within their region and especially the park they are working in. Contacting them via email should garner plentiful information on current conditions and trouble spots in the park, they might even be able to sell maps and other guides. Many national park ranger stations will often collect entry fees (depending on the park) and they can sometimes sell overpriced equipment and food.
  1. Books

The various books about hikes tend to fall into three categories:

    • Hiking books about experiences on a certain hike. The Appalachian Trail, for example, has a lot of personal experience stories written about it. While this will give details of experiences on the hike, they often don’t give details about the hike.
    • Trail books about specific hikes. These are the most useful books as they are a complete look at just one long hike, or several moderate length hikes in the same area. These are useful if you are happy to do a 6-20 day hike for your first hike, and usually contain complete maps, details of camps/huts, side trails and many other details. For many, a hike of this length is too long for a first experience. An example of a book that falls under this category: John Chapman’s Larapinta Trail
    • Regional bush-walking/trail books. There are few books written about a specific 3 day hike as it would not be feasible to print. However, there are books that compile collections of short hikes and bush walks for specific regions. To make them worth printing, they tend to have a plethora of hikes, but details about the hikes can be vague and out of date depending on when the book was published. They make good starting points, but should not necessarily be used as the definitive guide about each hike. Books that fall into this category include: Backpacker’s Britain Northern Scotland and Lonely Planet’s Trekking in the Central Andes.

wpid-books-2013-11-12-16-16.jpgIf you are travelling in a foreign country you can find information here:

  1. Your hostel or hotel
  2. If the region you are travelling is renowned for its hiking, such as Nepal, Patagonia or Peru; your local hostel or hotel might be the perfect place to find information. They may also hire equipment for the hikes, sell transport tickets to the trail head and may even have maps of the region for sale. They will likely be able to point you to the best source of information on the particular hikes, tour agencies and guides if they don’t.
  3. Tour Agencies
  4. The agencies in the region you are travelling should provide any information you might need, including maps, transport tickets, information on current conditions, park fees and other advice. Most speak english if you are in a country where the native population doesn’t. While some may hire out equipment for the hikes, many don’t.
  5. Hiking or Adventure stores
  6. If you are in a non-english speaking country and don’t speak the native tongue, these stores only be useful for providing gas and other equipment. But in the rare occasional where the owner speaks english or you speak the native language, they can be a useful resource. Often in poorer countries, they are primarily interested in sales and don’t know much about the hikes in the areas.
  7. National Park offices
  8. Many national park offices have full information about the park they are. While they don’t always sell or hire gear for the hikes, they usually collect the fees associated with hiking in the park and can provide maps and condition reports.
  1. Local Guides
  2. In many countries, you are unable to hike without an experienced local guide. This is usually a tourism initiative to bring money into the local economy, but are there to prevent hikers from getting lost or for the hiker’s safety in difficult terrain. The local guides are a fountain of information about the surrounding area and the trail, but many don’t speak english. Often booking a guide is expensive, but it has its benefits. Your guide and porter (if he has one) will carry most of your equipment, prepare the campsites and even prepare your meals.

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The Lone Trail Wanderer

Welcome to The Philosophy Of Hiking Blog

The Philosophy of Hiking is a blog aimed at providing information for those just getting started in the hiking world.

The aim of this blog is to provide advice on many aspects of hiking including:

  • equipment types, uses and suitability
  • packing guides, food selections, camping and safety
  • hiking in different climates, different temperatures and different environments
  • and many other areas.

The information here is provided based upon the experience of the author and is a general guideline only. The more you hike the more your own knowledge will evolve to best suit you and your individual needs.

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What isn’t included in this blog?
Because this blog is aimed at the beginning hiker, it will not include information on sports closely associated with hiking such as rocking climbing, ice climbing, trail running and other more intense sports similar to these. It is also impossible to cover every aspect of hiking in a single blog, the aim is to give a base for building your own experience only.

The Philosophy of Hiking is not aimed at single day bush walks. In this a blog, a hike is considered a multi day activity with overnight periods spent at camping areas or refuges set up for the purpose. While some of the information provided here will be relevant to bush walking, much of it will not be suitable.

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Why Hike?
Hiking is about exploring places in the world that are often remote or only inaccessible by foot. While many hikes are situated near cities or within urban areas, the best hikes are those away from vehicles, pollution, work, the hustle and bustle of everyday life and for the most part, other people.

Hiking is a physical activity that allows you to climb mountains, explore vast expanses of wilderness, find hidden waterfalls and most importantly, become closer to nature. It is a means to be with our world, whether alone or with a group of friends, and to watch nature at its best. There is a vastness of beauty in the world that can only be witnessed by the hiker.

To hike means to learn survival skills, to be self sufficient and compact. In a society that often teaches us that more is better, hiking is about learning to survive with less. It’s a simpler life far away from everyday life. Hiking can also be a meditative experience. After a time in nature the mad rush of everyday thoughts seem to slip away into nothingness and the focus moves to the silence of nature.

Nature deserves your attention, your respect and your love,

The Trail Wanderer