Hiking

Hiking has a magical power that takes you into the world of trails, landscapes and nature experiences. The freedom to carry everything you need on your back, carry it with your own strength and step by step seeing nature change around you. There is something ancient about hiking – our oldest means of transport and largely the same today as for our ancestors thousands of years ago; though perhaps we hike for slightly different reasons today.

Hiking has different meanings and implications for everyone – it’s the feeling, the distance, what you aim for and how you want to go about it. Some like to hike to get as many miles done as possible with minimal equipment, and others like to keep it more comfortable and go on hikes around their camp and maybe focus more on nature, animals and the ”little things” – as my dad used to say: “Some people run a marathon in a few hours and some do it in a week, both have accomplished it but with different attitudes and pursuits.”

There is no right or wrong, and the most important thing is that you have fun and get out in nature – equipment and practicality come second and it's up to you to decide how you want to go about it. It doesn't have to be and shouldn't be difficult to get started.

When you set out on a hike, whether it's your first time or you're an experienced hiker, there are a couple of things to consider. With this guide, we want to inspire both those who are going on a hike for the first time as well as seasoned hikers.

Start with what you have at home, borrow from a family or a friend and upgrade as you start to like it more and more (which I think you will). There are no must-haves, but there is equipment that makes things a lot easier.

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The idea is born and the planning begins

Where do you want to hike? What kind of hiking do you want to do – day trips from a “basecamp” or hiking with all your packing? Is there a well waymarked hiking trail? What is the weather and nature like right there and then? How many people are you? Are there shops along the route or do you need to carry everything with you from the start? Should you sleep in a tent, shelter or hostel? Is there water?

It is a good idea to read as much as possible about the area you will be hiking in to avoid unforeseen events that can be prevented.

Packing of the equipment

When you know where you want to hike and have planned your adventure, the equipment is the next thing to think about. What’s the season – winter, spring, summer or autumn? How cold is it during the day and how cold is it at night? What is the weather like during that time of year? All seasons have their own special charm, but the packing varies according to the season and temperature. In spring everything starts to bloom, but it can go cold at night and temperatures can drop below zero. In summer you'll want to pitch your tent in the shade to avoid waking up in a portable sauna, and you'll also need more water. In fall, many people like to go hiking, as the warmth fades and the vibrant colors of the landscape are a treat for the eyes – but be prepared for the nights to suddenly turn cold and the days to still be hot. Winter is magical to hike in with snowshoes, touring skis or on hiking trails that are not covered in snow. There are many factors to be extra careful about in winter, the main one being the cold. Among other things, you should avoid sweating, have many clothing layers ready as well as warm sleeping equipment.

First, check the equipment you have at home – not everything has to be the most expensive brand or the most lightweight available. The most important thing is that you go out there and create memories, and as you get more accustomed to hiking, you’ll see for yourself what comes first on your shopping list.

We divide the luggage into 4 different parts:

1. Sleeping equipment

Tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag. It's the foundation for a good night's sleep (hopefully). Be sure to check the expected temperatures, because even if you get a bit cold during the day, not being warm at night makes you feel much more helpless and has more negative effects, so check the comfort temperature of your sleeping bag and the insulating capacity of the sleeping mat.

We usually bring an inflatable pillow (they don't weigh many grams nowadays and make the night even more comfortable) and a sleeping bag liner to create an extra layer of air that insulates slightly and is easier to wash. “Luxury stuff” we think is worth carrying around to add that little extra.

2. Food & Cooking

This part gives you the strength to keep going. Filling up on nutrients, calories and simply getting something warm in your belly is incredibly important, otherwise you won't get far. One of the cornerstones of cooking on a hike is the stove. We like gas stoves best as they are lasting, easier to carry and very efficiently boil the contents of the pot. There are many different sizes and models to choose from, and we would recommend that you go to a store and have a look at a number of different variants (or order home some) to see which one suits you best. This also raises the question of how many you are going to be – you save weight by sharing a larger stove rather than everyone having their own.

When it comes to food, there are a lot of different options. But what all recommendations have in common is to save on weight as much as possible and try to bring only dry ingredients. Below is a summary of some of our experiences.

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Freeze-dried instant meals

These are available from a variety of suppliers and are, in our view, by far the lightest, most convenient and most energizing option – but also the most expensive. You can buy both breakfast, lunch & dinner with a large selection of dishes so that you can eat varied by usually only pouring on water and waiting for it to be ready to eat!

Dry ingredients

Another possibility is to check available options in your nearest store where you only need to add water. We usually go for instant mashed potatoes, for example with a piece of dried meat and some spices. Cheap, tasty, easy and smooth. Instant noodles are another option that we often bring with us – not overly nutritious, but they have served us well as lunch when we are out hiking. Pancake mix also makes for a great breakfast or coffee snack!

Drying the food yourself

There are many recipes you can find online that show you exactly how to dry ingredients to make them easy to transport and last longer, so you can bring the flavors you know you like. It usually only takes an oven on low heat to dry food yourself. What you should know is that you often need to soak the ingredients for a while beforehand (one / a few hours) in a zip-lock bag, for example, in order for them to become soft.

Snacks/Energy boost

Also an important part of the menu. With snacks you can easily refuel with a little sugar and protein when you feel you need it. We usually bring Snickers to this end, but have also made our own “power bars” with, for example, dates, nuts, etc. There is also a large selection of other protein bars to buy at the regular stores, as well as recipes on how to make your own. We also usually prepare a “trail mix” – raisins, peanuts and sometimes some chocolate chips.

Tip: Keep this in your waist belt or close at hand for quick access.

3. Clothes

When it comes to clothing, it can feel like an endless sea of different brands, features, weights and textiles – but we’ll summarize the key takeaways from our experience.

Shoes/boots:

This is a very important part of the equipment, we think. We like to hike in boots in all seasons – they are warmer than a pair of sneakers in the summer, but we feel the stability and “carrying support” you get is unbeatable. The boots should rise above the ankle and have a reinforced sole. The so-called shaft is more a matter of taste – some like a more reinforced shaft and others just a leather shell to make them easier to dry. Find out for yourself! We think the advantage of Gore-Tex boots is that they keep the feet dry, but the disadvantage is that once they get wet, they take longer to dry. Gore-Tex are often more padded and reinforced, but not everyone wants that. Shell boots have the benefit that you can work with layers/thickness of the socks depending on the season, and they dry faster.

Socks:

They go “hand in hand” with the shoes – here we like and recommend wearing two pairs of socks made of merino wool. A thinner layer closest to the foot and a layer on top of it in a thickness adjusted to the season. This is so that the socks chafe against each other instead of against your foot, and the wool helps to wick away the moisture, ventilates and keeps your feet warm even when they get wet. Change the socks often, like several times a day, and let the used ones hang on the backpack to dry. That’s how you keep your feet dry and happy and prevent chafing and other discomforts.

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The legs:

Right now it's still a little below zero at times, but spring is well on its way. We also like to wear a merino wool base layer close to our legs (when it's cold). We usually use outdoor pants or functional pants on the outside because they have stretch panels for more mobility and also functions such as ventilation pockets and / or zip-off to be able to regulate the temperature quickly. This is not a must-have, but it makes things easier and is much more comfortable in our opinion. We've heard great things about wool underwear for the same reason as the socks and underwear, but we've actually only used regular cotton underwear when we've been out hiking – and it's worked out fine for us so far.

Upper body:

Let’s take it one step up. Here we again have merino wool underwear closest to the body, and the thickness varies depending on the time of year. On the outside, we have a warming sweater (now in early spring), preferably with a zipper to easily zip up or down to regulate the temperature. If necessary, we like to wear a synthetic down vest on top. It packs down to a small bundle but can be taken out when you take a break, or the wind is cold. And last but not least – the hard-shell jacket. The one that protects you from the weather, whether it's snow, rain, wind, or hail. It also works with a rain jacket but they aren't that breathable and are often not designed for an active adventure.

On a side note, we also mention shell pants – they're not something we often bring on a hike, but depending on where you're going and what the weather looks like, it's a good idea to pack a light pair of shell pants (or rain pants) to protect yourself from the weather.

The head:

This time of year, I like to have a merino wool beanie with me for when my ears get cold or if it's a freezing night in the tent, and also a cap to protect me from the sun and possibly keep my hair out of my face.

4. Other equipment

Water:

There are different ways to carry water with you – I personally like to bring one (or two) bottle(s) of drinking water and a small water filter that purifies the water from lakes and streams so that it is safe to drink. My brother has a liquid system with 2 or 3 liters of water which rests against the back and allows you to have more water ready immediately. This depends a bit on where you are going to hike, how many waterways there are, etc. In any case, you should always have access to clean water in some way – you will be burning a lot of fluids when you hike!

First aid kit:

You never know when disaster strikes (and it usually does when you least expect it) and a first aid kit can often take you a long way. It can also include a 'Spot' or something similar that keeps your coordinates and well-being updated to your friends and family without the need for coverage and can also call for help – because you never know. It is also important to pack a chafing band-aid & some sunscreen in the first aid kit.

Phone:

The phone has become something that almost everyone carries with them every day and contains many smart features. You can capture your walk by taking photos, checking maps and keeping those at home up to date, and you can bring along entertainment such as podcasts or audiobooks to listen to in the evening.

Power bank:

To keep your electronics charged. We carry a version with solar panels that can be rolled out to charge it a little at a time – great for those moments when you really need a few extra percent.

Sunglasses

Headlamp

Change(s):

Depending on how long you' re away, you should always make sure you have at least one dry and clean change of clothes with you. On shorter hikes we usually use our second underwear set as pyjamas, for example.

Knife

We usually carry a folding knife or smaller knife because it comes in handy so often – for cooking, cutting a rope or a band-aid. You can also have fun sitting and carving a little in the evenings – maybe a spatula to turn the pancakes? :)

The backpack:

Last but not least, we have the thing we carry all this in – the backpack. It should be tested carefully, preferably with weights, before buying. Hiking backpacks are made in many different shapes, back lengths, volumes, colors and for different purposes. Chances are very high that there is one that suits you and your upcoming adventure, but try it out to find it.

Keep in mind that it should fit close to your back and have a stable, comfortable waist belt and comfortable, padded shoulder straps – they account for a large part of the comfort while hiking. We usually use between 45-65 liters to bring our equipment, but without having a lot of extra space. It is easy to pack less necessary things if you have space left over. Size and volume also vary if you have a family with children, for example.

We hope you've picked up some new tips or inspiration to plan your next hike. Remember to always respect nature, the right of Freedom to roam, for example the nature reserve or national park rules, and never to leave traces behind you. Nature is available to us all, but only if we take care of it.

// Forrest & Indiana (@wayoutbros)

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