It’s April and the Himalayan summer trekking season for 2015 is about to kick off. The time for trekkers to decide upon a Himalayan trek and start preparing for it. But an element often delayed during the preparation for a trek – purchasing your trekking gear, is what you really need to get working on right away. Right from the moment you decide that a high mountain pass is where you want to be during your time off work.
With trekking gear available online now, the temptation to simply order that backpack or pair of trekking trousers just a week before you head out to the Himalayas is always beckoning. Doing so will most probably result in unexpected surprises and agony on the trek – for yourself and for your co-trekkers too!
Spend enough time to get your personal trekking gear essentials just right. There is no room for error when heading into the remote mountains for days together, where no substitute is easily available in case your personal gear is of inferior quality or does not serve the intended purpose.
Here we look at 5 trekking gear essentials that you must state and understand your personal preferences for, evaluate thoroughly and only purchase thereafter.
Your feet will and should do most of the talking for you on a trek. Undoubtedly then, trekking boots are the most vital gear for any trek. Boots provide essential ankle support as against regular sports shoes and are ideal for treks in all terrains – including easy to moderate grade treks which involve exposure to snow.
Refrain from buying your trekking boots online, as the sizes and fit of the boots varies for different manufacturers and may differ even in case of different boots from the same manufacturer. If you must buy them online, make the purchase well in advance to allow for enough time to get them replaced in case you are not thoroughly satisfied.
Most importantly, upon purchasing a new pair, do not wear the brand new boots to start a Himalayan trek! Make sure the boots are broken into well, tried and tested during shorter hikes or regular activities and only then pack them up for the high altitude trek.
Ask any trekker how important a good night’s rest is and you will understand the importance of a sleeping bag. Sleeping bags are typically categorized as 3 or 4 season sleeping bags, as per temperature ratings and based on the material of the bag.
Taking the load off your shoulders – this is what most people seek from a trek; quality time in the outdoors to get rid of the mundane stress. And that is exactly where a good quality backpack fits in – literally speaking. A quality backpack will sit on your back and shoulders well, distributing the weight evenly.
A good quality jacket, preferably with a hood. Light-weight is an important criterion too, as the jacket will be in your backpack or daypack at all times. Starting out in the early morning chill or enjoying the views after a tiring ascend to a high pass – a good windproof jacket is a must to have on you.
If you are unable to find a good jacket that suits your budget, a sweatshirt or two must surely be packed in. Putting on more layers of clothes is the best way to protect yourself from the wind and low temperatures.
Raincoat or Poncho
Weather in the mountains is unpredictable. Sunny mornings can give way to threatening dark rain clouds in a matter of minutes. And where else can the brunt of weather be felt more severely than an exposed mountain side or those open grassy ‘bugyals’.
Do not leave the raincoat / poncho behind in order to minimize your backpack weight. Favourable weather or not, being prepared for the unexpected is what distinguishes a good trekker from the rest.