Ready for the Big Hike
Now that you are ready for the longer hikes and maybe spending a night or two, you’ll need additional gear. There’s no better way to decompress and clear your mind than spending a night recharging by lying against nature’s bosom in comparative solitude and isolation.
Prepare for Longer and Overnight Hikes with More Gear
1. REI’s Half Dome 2 (appx. $229) has two vestibules that come in handy when it rains. You can take off wet clothes and muddy boots before messing up your sleeping area. They also are useful for stashing gear out of the way.
2. Sleeping Bag. Down versus synthetic – the ongoing debate. Synthetics are cheaper but usually heavier. They handle getting wet better. They dry faster and still are warmer when wet. Always buy one that’s rated at least ten degrees higher than the coldest expected temp. The fourth incarnation of the famous Cat’s Meow from North Face (appx. $179) is a great synthetic.
3. First Aid Kit. Can’t beat a Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Kit. They are compact, lightweight and contain a poncho, emergency blanket, light stick, an assortment of bandages and gauze pads, finger splints, tape, antiseptic wipes, and a first aid guide. Oh yeah and a whistle. The best part is they are only $32.95.
4. Water purifier(s). Water is the number one resource everyone needs to be able to access. Drinking from streams is risky, may be dangerous and should never be done unless that is the last option. Purifying with tablets is okay for the short term and when the water isn’t too murky. For more extended periods you need a purifier that eliminates bacteria and chemicals. We recommend a manually operated one like the 11 ounces Katadyn Hiker Pro Transparent Water Microfilter (appx. $78). The filter is field cleanable and has a water bladder spigot.
5. Durable clothing. Quick dry tee shirts, a long sleeve flannel shirt with two pockets, pants that are a comfortable loose fit. Cargo pants that have many flapped pockets are the best for hiking. Men’s Full Swing Steel Cargo Pants from Carhartt full that requirement perfectly. The fabric is rip-stop, the knees and crotch are designed for more bend and stretch, and they have a flexible waistband. They are a bit pricey at $100, but like all Carhartt clothing, sturdy and last forever. For women, Carhartt has no comparable pants, but prAna Avril Relaxed Fit Hiking Pants ($80) might be the answer. They are 97% cotton, 3% Spandex trim, have a ribbed waistband drawcord, articulated knees and a hem cinch system at the bottom of the legs that will easily tuck into boots and keep creepy crawlies out.
6. Portable Stove. Weight, fuel as well as usability are essential factors. Most of the compact stoves burn isobutane-propane fuel. They come in heavy and cumbersome tanks that you have to carry in and then carry out. The fuel pollutes and is very expensive. A typical tank of 230 grams costs around $20. However, given that and though gas-fueled stoves are costly ($45 – $130), they do have some perks. They heat quickly, the flame is controlled and can be fired up in cold, rain and with numb fingers. Still, we think the best stove is one that burns wood, twigs, leaves, or old flip-flops. Okay, just kidding about the flip-flops, but sincere about the organic material. The Vinida Camping Stove and Backpacking Stove ($20) at 9.2 oz, 4.5” diameter, 3.5/7.5” high, good for two people along with the Stanley Camp Cook Set ($15) is a winning combo.
That should get you set for a couple of days, maybe even a week. You’re gonna need food so think high energy, low weight, and condensed size. Energy bars and jerky pack a punch and small in size. They are light and tasty with a lot of protein. However, that will get old quickly. There are many brands of almost any food one could take along on a hike or extended camping outing. Going online is the best way to run down those purveyors.
Remember, the cardinal rule when enjoying the outdoors, be courteous and leave it just as you found it or better. Take everything you brought with you when you leave. Yes, even chewing gum!
And live by the old motto, “Take only pictures and memories, leave nothing but footprints.”
We might add, leave those footprints only on the designated trail and nowhere else.
For additional tips on preparing for that hike, check out Part 1 of our Hiking series. Happy Hiking!