Does it take you ages to figure out what to bring on hiking trips overseas? Or are you instead simply trying to find the best hiking boots out there? Maybe you’ve even considered hiring a personal assistant! Fortunately all you really need is a definitive hiking gear checklist. Sit back and relax, because this is your lucky day. You’ll find everything you need in our ultimate hiking checklist below.
Holidays are supposed to be relaxing. However, we all too often find ourselves stressing over the admin and organising time required before we even head out the door. Getting your bags packed has to be one of the most frustrating parts of a trip. Luckily, there’s a simple solution to this problem: a proper hiking checklist. Here at Hillwalk Tours, we think of the needs of our walking enthusiasts long before their journeys begin. As such we offer them a downloadable PDF-file of our ultimate hiking gear checklist. But first, take a closer look at these ten essential items to tick off before your next jaunt in nature.
The right walking boots for you
This is definitely the first item you need to sort out before your trip, not only chronologically, but also in terms of importance. Inadequate, ill-fitting or substandard footwear will leave you lacking once you’re out in the wilderness. And time-wise it’s crucial to at least break your boots in somewhat back at home before even heading off. Everyone has a different type of foot, gait, and overall walking style. Every trail is different as well, in terms of terrain, climate and location.
As such, there is rarely a one size fits all solution unless you only ever hike the same few similar trails. However, with a bit of research you can find the best walking boots out there to suit your needs. Keep in mind the types of hikes you wish to embark on: Will you be walking in the mountains, through forests, in wet areas or hot climates? A universal piece of advice is to find waterproof and breathable walking boots that will aid in preventing blisters and stopping your feet from becoming overly fatigued on your journey.
Believe it or not, some people don’t want to return to the Scottish Highlands after their first visit. The main reason? Midges. These small, biting insects can ruin entire holidays, let alone hiking trips. Fortunately there’s some good news though. With the correct type of insect repellent you can enjoy Scotland’s beautiful scenery without ever even noticing the annoying critters. These little guys are all over Ireland as well, particularly the west, so make sure to grab some repellent for any Irish walks too.
A multi-day hiking trip can be somewhat smelly, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of about that fact. It’s the best feeling to put on a fresh pair of clean, dry socks after a long hike, so keep them good as new by separating your dirty clothes from the clean ones. You can even get bags made from a netting which allows you to keep track of your clothes in communal washing machines, with the netting still ensuring that your items are thoroughly cleaned.
Your base layer is the clothing worn closest to your skin. Picking the right fabric to keep you warm, dry and comfortable during your hike is important. There are endless possibilities out there, but here’s a simple method: Both wool and synthetics are suitable fabrics as base layers, depending on what’s most important to you (price, insulation, durability, etc.). Cotton, however, is generally a non-starter.
So simple, yet so important. Hydration is the key to a healthy and comfortable hike. For longer distances, it can be a good investment to purchase a hydration pack such as the iconic Camelbak brand or similar. These slot nicely into the top of your backpack and come with a convenient, long tube that stops you fumbling about and taking your backpack on and off all the time. Most backpacks for the past ten to fifteen years come with a handy, purpose-built hydration pack sleeve as well.
Some hikers underestimate the usefulness of hiking poles and refuse to give into the idea of them at all. Our advice: At least try them out before making your final judgement. The increased balance and support on all types of terrain will add to your endurance as a hiker. On top of this, they are great when making descents as you can use your arms and shoulders to take the strain off your thigh muscles. Going down steeper gradients can be a surprisingly tough workout, and this is because we usually aren’t used to working these muscles. Plus, for steep, uneven terrain we have to actually use our muscles as brakes to stop our downward momentum, putting a real strain on our legs when not utilising hiking poles.
Even on cloudy days the sun can still damage your skin, so this one is important in any part of the world. Yes, you heard that correctly. Even in the far northern reaches of Scotland and Ireland you can get caught out by the sun. I’ve seen countless walkers out in Ireland who think you cannot get sunburned here coming away looking like cooked lobsters. Plus, many of them often wind up with a combination sun and wind burn. Fortunately putting on sunscreen also helps cut out the biting sting of the strong winds coming in off the Atlantic. As such, sunscreen should be a staple on your hiking checklist and in your backpack.
No matter how far you wander off into nature, some pieces of technology will need to be brought along with you. Whether you use your cell phone to take pictures for Instagram, send out a few tweets along the way, or merely have it there for emergencies, a charger could be a life-saving item. Especially during multi-day hikes and in secluded areas, you probably want to bring a portable charger in your pack. Power sockets are few and far between when you’re out in nature.
Many quaint little villages still aren’t equipped with ATMs and some remote B&Bs and local shops still lack card payment facilities, especially where the Internet signal is weak or nonexistent. Make sure you always carry some cash, just in case. Also, make sure you know which currencies you might need along your journey. For example, it’s the Euro in the Republic of Ireland and the Pound Sterling in Northern Ireland, don’t forget!
We’ve already stressed the importance of picking the best boots for walking and hiking. However, without the right socks to go along with them, you’re still likely to suffer from blisters, cold feet and lack of grip and traction inside the actual boots themselves. For optimal comfort and warmth, make sure you select high-ankle to mid-calf height socks. As for the material they are made from, breathability is the most important feature to keep your feet warm. So, like your base layer, avoid cotton and go for socks that are primarily made from wool or a suitable synthetic polymer.
If you follow these ten tips and check out our hiking checklist, you’ll find that it’s not actually that difficult to decide what to pack for hiking after all. Enjoy!