What are the ‘Must-Haves’ for a Trek?

Remember those endless hours you spent preparing for your first trek? Making a list of all the necessities, procuring the best trekking gear available, getting that brand new DSLR, indulging into thoughts of the stunning mountains and the peaceful forests, dreaming of camping under the star-studded sky and finally, completing just 20 per cent of the trek only to return because of Acute Mountain Sickness?

Don’t worry, we know the last one is not a part of your plan! However, as unexpectedly as it appeared in the sentence, unforeseen circumstances can appear in your perfectly planned trip and force you to end it. Chances of them happening? Close to zero, if there are proper precautions taken and below, we’ve listed all the added information you need to conquer your first ever hike! Happy trekking!

1. Fitness, The Epitome Of Success:

Man standing on a high peak

While constructing that elaborate list of ‘Things To Carry’, remember that the first point is: Yourself. It may be sounding trivial to you now, but you will be cursing your stars when you go out of breath while climbing a steep hill, or feeling like your knees are nearly falling off while descending the slope.

That’s why fitness is our point number one. Trekking does take long term planning and that’s why you should start putting in some exercise hours to your schedule at least two months before the trek.

What? More spending on that gym membership?!

Getting fit for a trek does not essentially mean a gym membership. We don’t discourage you from one, but fitness can be done at the convenience of your home too. All you need is to incorporate some cardio and endurance training. Complicated words? Well, endurance training involves plank, bodyweight squats, pushups, situps, and the likes, basically building up muscular strength, making it easier for you to defy gravity in those steep ascents and descents. Cardio, just as the word suggests is related to the heart.

What these set of exercises do is elevate your heart rate and with time strengthen the heart to efficiently keep the pumping of blood top-notch, making climbing a cake-walk. And guess what? You’ve been doing cardio quite often throughout these years in the form of running, walking, cycling, swimming (you get the point!).

But to get fit for a trek, this has to be a regular event and by the end of two months, you must have achieved a certain mark. Our finish line? To cover 3-4 km in a half an hour time slot. Collectively, all these exercises get your lungs and hence breathing to a decent point and even if the oxygen lessens out at a particular elevation, your body will adapt to it, making the whole experience positively worth all the trouble!

2. Shoes, Your Trek Slay Quotient:

cardio exercise-running

While slaying the weekend office party with those new pairs of shoes, how did you cure that painful blister on your right foot the next day? That’s right, you didn’t have to walk for the next two days. Now imagine getting the same blister while on the trek, where resting for two days is not an option.

You may argue that you’ve purchased new shoes and the possibility of blisters with comfortable shoes specially designed for trekking is next to impossible, we tell you otherwise. And it’s not just the blisters, there are possibilities of very severe damages to your toe-nails and the joints of your ankle with new-trekking shoes.

Yes. That’s why it’s essential that after the purchase of those shiny, new shoes, you get comfortable in them. Go for a run in the early hours, or walk in the evenings but use those shoes until you’re past the blister phase before you start trekking in them. Getting comfortable on a normal terrain before hitting that challenging one will not only make life easier but minimize further damages to your feet.

3. Rucksack, The Perfect Trek Partner! 

‘I know this one! Skip to the next.’ Don’t. Most experienced trekkers will tell you to ‘pack-light’ blah blah. No. You already know that excess baggage is not something you want to carry on at any point in your life and we give you full credits for that.

But what you don’t know is the ‘kind’ of trekking bags you should be carrying with you. Say what? Yes. Whatever be the price of your backpack or the store you purchase it from does not concern us. What does is the fact that all rucksacks are not suitable for treks. You need a backpack that highlights the following:

  1. Sturdy structure: Make sure the built of the bag looks sturdy and not like everything is falling apart (unlike most of our lives). You don’t want something that sags away to glory! Don’t let the paper fillings inside the bags fool you, carefully check the bag. Trek only when you’re satisfied with your backpack.
  2. Spacious compartments: This is not a do or die, but our advice is you need a bag that can suit your needs like having a separate compartment for that extra pair of chappal or one that will cater to your wastes during the trek. Choose wisely.
  3. Padded support: This one is a must. Carrying the whole world on your shoulders can be tough, you at least need good support. That’s where the padding comes useful and will not only help you carry the weight but almost save the entire tube of your pain-relief gel!

Once you get the perfect backpack, lets fast forward to the day of the trek. The positioning of the bag is as important as choosing the right one. Remember the lowest point of the rucksack should be just above your tailbone area. That prevents gravity from winning and keeps your lower area free from any kind of hindrance while climbing.

4. Clothing, Your All-Time Support:

two people with backpacks trekking in the forestFor a successful trek, this is as good as being the first point, but other things needed more importance. Now that we’ve arrived here, let’s first talk about the indispensable: undergarments. Do we have to convince you to take more of them? The most important part of your clothing, this also ensures the basic hygiene level to be maintained!

Now for summer treks, activewear from any brand is sufficient. All you’ve got to ensure is that the material is made out of quick-dry technology so that after long hours of trekking and sweating, you don’t feel like you’ve taken a dip in the river with your clothes on. Hence, try to stick to active wears. But what about good old comfortable cotton? Don’t. You’ll thank us later.

Winter treks can be troublesome when it comes to clothing. With temperatures that can freeze you right to the inside, clothing is important. For a high altitude winter trek, you need 3 upper layers consisting of an inner thermal or normal warm shit, a fleece jacket and an outer jacket (down jacket or any other), while two lower layers consisting of a thermal and a trekking pant, all of which are easily available.

A balaclava or some warm woollen caps are also recommended for those chilly evening winds. Also, don’t forget to carry warm socks and gloves unless you want to feel the stinging burn of ice (Ice burns?! Yes. Believe us.)

5. Our Must Add-Ons To Your List:

You’ve ticked off all on the list of essentials but we have a few more that you might consider. Treks can be a glorious experience but understand that hygiene will be a compromised area. Water will scarce along almost all trekking routes and yes, you might have to compromise on your devoted brushing schedule.

Instead of the toothpaste and brush, go for a mouthwash. These are easy to carry and come in travel-friendly sizes. Also, you might want to stack up on those wet-wipes for any time you want to feel fresh after a long stretch and definitely for all those uncalled for nature’s calls.

Treks can also come with unexpected darkness. While you will enjoy the view of the night sky, you won’t enjoy tripping on sticks and rocks on your way back to the resting ground. Keep a torchlight ( because chances are your phone battery will drain out and you’ll be out of it for days ) with you whenever you feel like taking one of those night-walks!

Other things that you might consider are toilet paper or at least some sheets of newspaper, a rain-cover for those damp trek routes, hiking pole, water purification tablets, hand sanitizer, etc. Trek with all the necessities only and try to bring along things that have multipurpose uses.

Visit the blog on the ultimate trekking checklist for a detailed description of this last section! 

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By Abhishek Saraswat

Abhishek (@himalayan_gypsy) is a travel photographer and blogger known as Himalayan Gypsy over the internet. Academically from an engineering background and born the Himalayan valley of Dehradun, he found himself in love with nature and ever since he has been on a journey to travel India and showcase the beauty of the country through his pictures, motivating and encouraging people on the go to feel the same and also take responsibilities to conserve our rich heritage, culture and environment. He is a Certified Digital Marketer and a Travel Influencer who is efficient to create visually appealing content for Travel Brands, Property Owners, Cafes and other Product Shoots. He also specializes in running Facebook & Instagram Ad Campaigns for Brand Awareness, Brand Promotion and Online Reputation Management.

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