One of the first rules, when embarking on a hiking trip, is that you should always pack light, and avoid taking anything you won’t need. Many first-timers set out with far too much clothing and equipment.
At the same time, nobody wants to find themselves in the middle of nowhere and missing a vital piece of kit, particularly in an emergency. Choosing the kind of gadgets and tools you take with you is an important part of your preparations, so here are five great items you may want to take with you on your journey!
Having warm food and hot water while hiking can seem like a luxury, and a camp stove the sort of thing you should leave behind if you find you’re carrying too much weight before you leave. After all, you’re pretty sure you can survive on cold food for a couple of days. And yes, it’s true that having a hot meal each night is something of a creature comfort, but it’s exactly that which will raise your spirits after a hard day’s walk!
In choosing a camp stove you should look for something that’s portable, lightweight – you hear those words quite often during this article – and easy-to-use. For hikes in general weather conditions we would recommend a canister stove, like those in Mountain Safety Research’s Superfly range. Canister stoves are lightweight, and work well in anything but the coldest temperatures. Be aware, however, that if you’re hiking holiday involves a flight you won’t be able to take a fuel canister onto the plane with you.
As far as technological advances go, few have been as much of a benefit to hiking as GPS. Believe it or not, there are still some parts of the world with no cell phone coverage (it’s the lynchpin of almost every modern horror movie!), but a GPS messenger can keep you in touch with friends and family when you’re in the places most network providers can’t reach. There are plenty of these to choose from on the market, but among the most popular – and consistently best-reviewed – are the “Orange” range from Spot.
In recent years the famous Swiss Army Knife has acquired something of a “geeky” reputation, with many choosing to buy more expensive – and often less versatile – “hunting” style knives or multi-tool alternatives. This is a shame, because there’s a reason the Swiss Army Knife has been a bestseller for so long (they’ve been around over 120 years.) It’s an excellent, multi-purpose gadget; portable, affordable and – if you get one from an “official” manufacturer such as Victorinox – very well made.
Slip-on Ice Grips
This is the one item on the list which is dependent entirely on weather. Obviously, if you’re hiking somewhere warm with 0% chance of ice or snow, leave these behind! If, on the other hand, you’re hiking at high altitudes or in the winter months, they’re a sensible investment. Slip-on grips feature an elastic, rubber harness that you strap on over your shoe, and spiral metal grips that allow for extra traction on ice. They’re cheap, very lightweight, and take up little room when not in use. What’s more, these are also great for navigating icy sidewalks in the winter months, making them a worthwhile investment even when you’re not hiking!
We shouldn’t have to tell you that night time in the wilderness can get pretty dark! A torch should be near the top of any hiker’s checklist, but the type of torch you take is just as important. Look for one that’s light and portable – these, remember, are the hiker’s watchwords! – but also one that offers long battery life and which is splash or waterproof. Solar powered torches power up during the daylight hours, and will give you up to 2 or 3 hours of light during the night time, while a“headlamp” design is the most sensible choice for hiking, as it leaves both hands free at all times.