The essentials (and non-essentials) to casual weekend hiking
By Jacey Gibb, Distribution Manager
Great inclinations is your go-to source for diving into the world of casual hiking in and around the Lower Mainland, b
Some people think that in order to enjoy hiking, you need to spend hundreds of dollars on specific doodads and gadgets, but hiking is actually impossibly minimalist. Aside from the initial investment of our first item, everything else is likely something you already have laying around the apartment. My advice? Get out there and give hiking a few tries before going hog-wild at Mountain Equipment Co-op. Try a few trails, venture out with different hiking partners, and see what you think. If you decide hiking’s not for you, then no real loss; if you eventually find yourself heading out for hikes every other weekend, then it might be time to upgrade a few things. Here are a few items you’ll need even for the most basic of trails.
This is undoubtedly the most important investment. For years I hiked in everything from Converse to (shudder) flip-flops, and I struggled to understand why my feet felt like they’d been shattered into a million pieces. Hiking boots are light-weight, flexible, and give you tons of ankle support so you can avoid rolling your ankle. Hit up MEC, shell out a couple hundred on quality hiking boots, and you’re basically good to go. Just make sure you get something that’s water-proof or water-resistant, since most local hikes can get pretty soupy.
Don’t act like you’re too cool to stay hydrated. Besides being a delicious, thirst-quenching beverage, water is also quintessential for any sort of physical activity. Most sources online recommend having at least one litre of water for every two hours of hiking. Any tightly-sealed water bottle will do here, but if you’re feelin’ real fancy, you can splurge for a hydration pack or camel back (essentially a backpack with a pouch for water and a tube running out of the back, for easy on-the-go drinking). Just know that most hydration packs cost upwards of $50, and those are for the tiny starter ones.
In most hiking scenarios, your Hershel backpack will suffice, so don’t worry. But if you have back problems or find yourself planning for an overnight trip, a proper hiking backpack will make a world of difference. Clip-ons across the abdomen help distribute weight from the pack, mesh-netting along the back reduces pooling of delicious back-sweat, and wider shoulder straps means that they won’t dig into your delicate human meat. Again, this is one of those items that can quickly add up on the budget, with most smaller name-brand backpacks starting around $80, but also worth investing in.
They cost less than $5, which is a small price to pay to avoid run-ins with those lumbering forest giants. Some people argue that loud talking can be as effective, but on the off chance that you and your co-hikers run out of “Marry, Fuck, Kill” ideas, a bear bell can happily fill the silence.
Treat for afterwards
Okay, this is hardly an essential, but it’s a welcome addition—especially if you challenge yourself with more difficult hikes down the line. After a grueling ascent and equally grueling descent, imagine how blessed it would be to arrive back at the vehicle, crumple into the car seat, and have your favourite chocolate bar waiting for you. You haven’t tried an Oh Henry! until you’ve tried an Oh Henry! after hiking for three hours.
A reliable go-to contact
Here’s one thing that doesn’t require a trip to MEC, and it’s one of the most important items on our list. Unfortunately, things can go wrong when you’re out exploring the mostly-okay outdoors, so make sure your bases are covered. Before departing, make sure you text someone where you’re going, who you’re with, and what time you expect to be finished. Even if you’re bringing your phone on the hike, reception is notoriously scattered at higher elevations, or the further you go from civilization. If something does go wrong, make sure there’s someone who knows all the details and can contact search and rescue right away.