On my first hiking adventure, I received immense support by Rahhalah regarding the gear required. My team and I were given a very detailed list, plus a presentation of each item separately so that we understand its use, necessity, and variety in quality and price. Such equipment is quite expensive, so it is really paramount to know what you need, why you pay for it and why you carry it (an issue similarly important).
As I started hiking more and more, I developed a parallel personal checklist: minor details that prove to be quite useful at a moment of need.
Although gaiters (the protective cloth intended to cover the ankle and the lower part of the leg) are usually just optional, I find them one of the most important items on the list. I have always carried them with me, and they were needed on every single trip: on the volcanic terrain of Kilimanjaro, in the mud of Vietnam, in the snow of Nepal and the rain in Bhutan. Gaiters keep the pants clean and the hiking boots dry; they are light, easy to wash and, in case of cold weather, they provide additional insulation for the legs.
- Small waist bag
I prefer to carry my passport, cash, credit cards, and mobile in a small waist bag instead of putting them in my backpack. As such, all items are immediately handy and protected since I supervise them regularly. I also add any tickets, boarding passes or needed documents that I wish to retrieve with ease during the trip.
- Paper file for the nails
The paper file should be in the waist bag all the time. Nails repetitively break while carrying the luggage (starting from the airport) and a file lost in the main duffel bag is practically useless.
Always keep a pen in the waist bag. In most countries, there is an entry form that has to be filled upon arrival; looking around for a pen or begging to borrow one from a fellow passenger is quite frustrating and time-consuming.
- Swimming suit
It does not matter if the hike is on a mountain: there always seems to be some unexpected opportunity to swim, and I am consistently missing it because I forget to add the suit in the bag.
Lips get quickly and unavoidably dry or sun burnt during all adventure trips, regardless of all efforts to take care of their fragility. I always pack a small vase of Vaseline (the thick, opaque cream), which I apply on the lips in the night before I go to sleep. It helps restore the moisture. Word of caution: Vaseline should be used only during the evening and never during the day, especially if there is strong sunlight. Under the sun, the paste works as a lens and burns the lips badly instead of protecting them (I know from painful personal experience!)
- Tissues for the nose
Paper tissues are not needed just for the occasional visits to the toilet. They are mostly required for the running nose – an unavoidable symptom on the mountains. As such, tissues should always be at hand’s reach. Very often I end up using a whole pocket pack within just one day.
- Fenistil Gel and Otrivine
On such adventures, it is not uncommon to experience irritated skin or itchiness caused by insects, plants, thorns, sweat, etc. Fenistil Gel provides efficient and prompt treatment, and I carry it practically everywhere.
Also, I am quite sensitive in the nasal area; as a result, my nose is very frequently blocked (especially while traveling on the plane or trying to sleep at night). I have found out that the use of Otrivine is very helpful, so I carry it with me all the time. Word of caution: like with every medicine, Otrivine should not be used excessively.
- Plastic bags for garbage and clothes
It might seem like stating the obvious, but I never have enough bags for garbage and dirty clothes at the end of the trip. Besides the ones purely for garbage, I need some for the various pairs of shoes, some for the moderately used clothes, some for the very filthy ones and some for the mud-covered ones (the latter bags need to be thick and big, to make sure they will contain the dirt). It goes without saying that nothing should be put in the bags if not completely dry; otherwise, one might need to kiss a favorite t-shirt or fleece goodbye.
- Individual bags for each category of gear
I used to place all my gear neatly in my duffel bag, believing that my organized system would help me on the mountain to find everything I need with no effort. I have ended up countless of times searching feverishly and unsuccessfully in the dark or with the help of a dim headlight beam for a pair of clean socks, underwear, or thermals. Separate bags for each gear category are easier to retrieve and, as such, are highly recommended (there are some great ones in the market but, of course, one does not need to pay money for this; there are cheaper options).
Chief Initiator – Transformational Journeys