There are different reasons why you want to step your foot outdoors: it can be peer pressure, or you want to impress your partner, or maybe you just want to try something new (and fun!). But for whatever may your reason be, you have to know the basics of hiking/trekking/bushwalking and camping. For me, here are the top things to consider on your firsts attempts to enjoy the outside world:
1. Know what you’re going to do.
Where are you going? Is it warm there? What’s the lowest temperature at night?
How long is the activity? Are you going to walk 20kms in a day? Or are you going to do it in 2 days and camp for 1 night?
You can not plan anything if you do not have any idea on what are you going to do. If it’s less than an hour walk to a look-out, then you can trust anyone about the activity. But as it gets complex and difficult, make sure that the activity leader is experienced on whatever that you are going to do. Why? Because he or she will tell you about what to expect and how to prepare for the trip.
Here in Australia, there are websites that gives good description about the routes that you can trek, and the trails are properly marked. So you may opt to try some trails on your own. If you’re in the Philippines, I suggest not to try trekking if you do not have someone with you who has done it before. Basta!
2. Make sure you are (physically) prepared for it.
Can you climb 2 floor levels without stopping? Do you think you can walk for an hour straight?
After you determine your outdoor activity, assess yourself if you can do it. I am not saying that you should not go to a 4-hour trek because you don’t think you can walk 4 hours straight. There will be rest stops for sure, and it’s not like you’ll be on a treadmill for 4 hours. During your walk, you will be entertained with the views around you and the conversation that you’ll have with your fellow trekkers. However, don’t be too ambitious on your walks. If you haven’t done any treks yet, please don’t try a 15km route as your first experience.
If you are friends with the activity leader, ask him/her if he/she thinks that you can do it. Trust me, a trek leader will not risk getting blamed if someone just collapse along the way. If you don’t know the leader, assess the activity more carefully. And if the difficulty level is high, don’t think about it.
It’s all about layering.
If you’re climbing up a mountain, and it’s not cold from where you’re starting the trek, it’s better to start off with thin layer of clothes. Dri-fit shirts works well as under clothing, they dry easily after it gets wet from your sweat. As you climb up, you can add layers of jackets depending on the temperature.
For jackets, I suggest you have a thick layer to protect you from the cold. Fleece-type jackets are famous because they are light to carry, yet insulation is good. Another important layer is the rain jacket. You will need this if you have long treks and would not want to walk in wet clothes. Rain jackets also serve as wind breakers. These are very helpful on mountain peaks where wind is strong.
On really cold temperature, I found that covering my head and neck was very helpful. So I always bring bonnet and scarf.
Please don’t wear jeans or maongs, especially if you’re doing long walks. These are heavy, and can you imagine how long will it take to dry in case you get wet? If you’re going to do a lot of trekking, better invest in some good hiking pants or shorts. But if you’re just going to try it, go for lighter material pants. Board shorts are even better than jeans.
For footwear, it’s ok to wear sandals if it’s just short treks. But if you’re walking for more than an hour, you would prefer to walk on comfortable shoes. It’s ok not to have trekking shoes, rubber shoes is a good option as they also have traction on the soles and will keep you from sliding on slippery surfaces.
4. Checklist of what to bring
Write it, and cross out if it’s already in your backpack. Seriously.
One thing about this going outdoors is that you will not have easy access to the things you need. That is why you have pack carefully, to make sure everything you need for the day (or days) are with you. Experienced trekkers will still have instances that they forgot to bring something.
These are the important things you should not miss on your pack:
For day trip (meaning, you will not camp)
- Water. (depends how long is the activity)
- Food. Aside from lunch, you should also bring trail food if you’re going to do a lot of walking. In the Philippines, rice is always present during hiking. On my bushwalking here, I’m the only one having rice for lunch! They have wraps, salads, etc. I wonder where they get their energy from. Haha! For trail foods, nuts and candies are common. Sweets are highly appreciated during treks because it gives you a sudden energy kick :p
- Extra clothes. If you want to change into clean and dry clothes after the activity. Or if there’s swimming included in your day, you better have clothes for it.
- Jacket. In case it rains and it gets cold.
- Hat or cap.To protect you in case it gets really hot.
- Sunblock! I missed this on Andrew’s first bushwalking. He ended up sore for several days because of sunburn. Sorry 😦
- Hand sanitizer / Alcohol. For those who need their hands clean before they grab their food.
- Insect repellant.
- Map. If you don’t have a guide, better to have a map or printed route details.
- Light source. Even if you plan to go back before it gets dark, it’s still better to have a security light source.
- First Aid kit. I admit that I don’t carry this. But maybe just carry some band aids and alcohol, just in case.
- Rain Cover. for your backpack
For multi-day trips, aside from the list above, you should also consider
- More water.Check if there are water source during the trek. If there’s none, you have to carry about 6liters of drinking water for 2 days trek.
- More food. Consider all meals that will be covered by the activity.
- Stove. If you plan to cook at night. You may just bring canned food. Here in Australia, there are campsites where you can do barbecue.
- Tent. Not everyone should bring a tent, just make sure you a space to stay in for the night.
- Sleeping bag.Each should have one.
- Sleeping mat. Because the ground gets cold at night, the sheet of your tent and sleeping bad will not be enough. You don’t have to buy those expensive inflatable mats. Yoga mats or other spong-y mats will do. You just need extra layer for your back.
- Toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap.
5. Let someone know about your plans.
You don’t want to be on the next 127hours!
You can tell your friend about your travel plans, and your expected time that you’ll be back. It will be better if someone will start looking for you in case something went wrong.
Listen to the sound of nature, appreciate the views, share stories with your friends.