Preparing for the challenge of a lifetime can be a daunting prospect with so much to think about from fitness, travel arrangements, vaccinations, insurance to the crucial packing list. Ensuring you have the right equipment can be a bit of a minefield with advice coming from all different directions and in some cases conflicting. To help make the process easier we have devised some simple questions to bear in mind when planning what equipment to buy and pack.
What type of adventure are you going on?
The first thing to consider is the type of adventure you are undertaking and the terrain that is involved. Preparing for a trek is certainly not a case of one shoe fits all; it depends heavily on the type of trek and the individual. It can be tempting to buy lots of specialised equipment but careful research and planning can help to avoid spending money on unnecessary items.
What time of year will you be there?
Will it be the rainy season, dry season, cold, hot, is it at altitude or in the jungle? Preparing for wet weather is always important even if you are trekking in the summer or dry season. Having a rain cover for your backpack and a lightweight rain jacket is a good idea.
Try before you buy!
It might sound simple but making sure clothing and footwear fits well will have a big impact on your experience on the hike. When looking at buying footwear consider the socks you will be wearing. You may need to buy a slightly bigger size than usual. Give yourself time to try clothing and accessories like your daypack and water bladder too.
How much do you want to spend?
Buying the most expensive or well known brand can be tempting but shop around a little, try various brands and styles before making a final decision. This could save you money and there are often good but cheaper alternatives to the premium brands. This is particularly important when making the bigger purchases such as footwear and backpacks. And don’t forget to ask around for family or friends who may have gear they’re willing to lend. Gumtree or ebay can also be good, just make sure any second-hand gear you buy is in your size and proper condition.
What is your personal preference?
This is particularly important when considering hiking footwear. Some people prefer to use walking poles, you might have an old injury that requires you to have particular footwear or equipment.
5 top picks for ALL adventures
- Neck buffer – these can be worn in many different ways such as a headband, scarf or face protector. They are lightweight and will help protect you from both the sun and cold.
- Good socks – comfortable, breathable fabric will help keep your feet comfortable even after trekking all those miles. Look for a material like wool or thermax that drys quickly. You don’t need a new pair for everyday of trekking you can always use a pair two or three times before washing. Just air them out at the end of each day.
- Comfortable backpack – Make sure you try lots of variations of backpacks and that you get the right size for you. Consider how much you will need to carry so you can decide on the correct size. Ask an expert to fit the pack correctly for you and always get a back pack with waist straps to take the weight off your shoulders.
- Sun block – No matter if you are hiking to Everest Base Camp or the El Camino in Spain, being outside all day for multiple days in a row exposes your face to all of the elements. Make sure you are constantly applying sun block on your face, and don’t forget your lips!
- Camera – You will see some of the most breathtaking views and experience some of the most magical moments when you are on your adventure, don’t forget to capture them
Last but CERTAINLY not least…BOOTS!
Which footwear to choose is often a cause of contention between our adventurers. Here we compare the two options that offer different benefits.
Hiking boots vs Trail shoes
When you hear the word hike or trek, what footwear automatically springs to mind? Probably big leather hiking boots with ankle support, right? Well nowadays there is far more choice and variation on hiking footwear available out there and it’s worth considering the different options.
Once again you will need to think about your specific hike and the terrain you will be covering in order to make an informed decision.
Trail shoes are lighter, more flexible and cheaper to buy. They offer fairly good grip underfoot and will dry quicker if they get wet. They are often made from Gore-tex which means they are breathable as well as being waterproof (as long as water doesn’t creep in from above). Sounds good so far but what are the downsides? Trail shoes will not offer support around your ankle which is important when trekking on uneven and rocky terrain. They also leave your ankles exposed to insects and pesky tree roots that always seem to be waiting to trip you up!
Having a solid boot with sturdy ankle support can help to prevent injuries such as sprained ankles or stubbed toes. They also have excellent grip that will stop you slipping over when it is wet underfoot or when trekking on uneven ground. When trekking at altitude or in colder climates, hiking boots will help to insulate your feet. A decent pair of hiking boots will last you a long time and take you over many miles of trekking terrain. They can however be heavy and stiff causing your legs to ache and they may slow you down. They can also take much longer to dry if they get wet and if you choose a leather pair they tend not to be breathable.
For more advice and tips on all things hiking gear, head down to see our friends at Paddy Pallin. They are experts in outdoor equipment and matching you to the right products for your adventure. And the best bit? When you sign up to an Inspired Adventure you receive 20% off everything in store!