April 11, 2010
By Judy McEuen
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Apr. 11, 2010/ Troy Media/ — Travel light is the rule that every traveler should live by, but it is even more crucial when going on a long-distance hiking trip.
Unlike any other form of traveling, you cannot just leave your baggage and move on up the trail if you feel like it. Whatever you bring stays on your back throughout the trail. For this reason, each and every item you place inside your backpack should be selected for their utility and not for reasons of sentiment.
Don’t over pack
To avoid over-packing, make sure to use a backpack that is big enough to accommodate only the hiking essentials you will need on the trail. If your backpack is too big, the tendency is to stuff it to the brim with items you won’t be using.
The size of your backpack will be determined by the number of days it’ll take you to finish the hike. Other than size, make sure that your backpack can withstand the weather conditions of your destination. It should also be designed to give you sufficient lumbar support and efficient weight distribution on your back.
Pack for the weather. It pays to know the weather forecast for the whole time you will be staying on the site. This will help you choose the right set of clothes to keep you warm or cool enough for comfort.
The basic rule is not to bring jeans and cotton. These materials do not fare well with moisture because they absorb so much moisture and it takes a long time for them to dry. They also add to the weight of your baggage, especially when wet. Breathable and lightweight clothing materials are ideal for hiking. They absorb moisture easily and dry up quickly. Polyester micro fiber in warm weather and polypropylene during winter should serve you well.
Layering is a good trick to easily adapt to changing weather conditions. Lightweight clothing should serve as your base clothing followed by heavier shirts made of wool or fleece and finally covered by water resistant jackets or windbreakers.
If the weather gets warm you can easily dress down or dress back up again when it gets cooler. Pants that are convertible to shorts are also convenient. Pocket compartments on both shirts and pants are recommended to give you more storage rooms for some trail essentials such as your trail mix, bug spray, whistle and compass.
Bandana or big handkerchiefs are also useful. Their versatility makes them a hiking essential. You can use them to wipe your sweat off, protect your head from the heat of the sun or use it for first aid (i.e. use as restraints to immobilize a fractured body part on a splint).
Finally, never forget to bring a first aid kit along. Consider the additional weight to your pack as comfort weight. No matter how short your hiking trip may be, you cannot dispense with a good first aid kit. You just don’t know when you are going to need it.