Work has been hard in the last weeks… and up in the hills its a cool morning and no forecast of rain. This is the perfect combination for me to embark on a another hiking day. You will find below the equipment (hiking boots, walking sticks, socks …), I like to take on my trips and why.
In the past 5 years I’ve explored some pretty interesting places, always on foot. I’ve scampered along the hills of Costa Brava in Catalonia, went for extensive walks in the Swiss Alps, and city walks through Zurich and Basel. I’ve spent days in very remote locations in Germany where you don’t even get a phone signal. I’ve crossed the mountains of Panama to get to paradisiac islands, and tried out long hikes through the hill country around Austin.
Here is the list of things I like to take with me:
Although I have all OZAPATO Welt style of boots, I tend to be partial to the Shedron. Everybody knows that you can go anywhere — mountains or desert — with a good pair of boots. I wore the same pair of hiking boots on Mexico City streets and in the snow in Mount Hood, OR. They never failed me once. Here in Portland, many walkers/hikers/backpackers go for lighter hiking boots or footwear that dries quickly, but still protects the soles of the feet. These are a new generation of light hikers, as comfortable as running shoes but I somehow miss the ruggedness of the OZAPATO hiking boots design. They are ideal for one of my favorite pastimes — urban hiking. It is very important that your hiking boots protect you from the elements and also for when small accidents happens. Ankle support is often a trade off with smaller and lighter shoes. This is a beginner’s mistake newbies make.
Quality boots won’t do you much good unless you pair them with quality socks. Many hikers avoid investing $20 on socks. But all you need is one blister to never make that mistake again (we have all made similar mistakes). Remember, when it comes to socks, you get what you pay for. If you are going to travel the world but you’ve only got room in your pack for two pairs of socks, look for a wool blend — these are the most comfortable to wear regardless of the variations in humidity and temperature.
A strong staff will not only help you keep your balance, but it can come in handy for poking things that you might not want to touch with your hands — such as spider webs, venomous snakes, pesky raccoons and seat-stealing little brothers. Fashioning a hiking stick is a long-cherished camping tradition, but there is no dishonor in purchasing a store-bought variety. They make great gifts and can be adorned with any number of accoutrements to show the individuality of the holder. A good, hardwood hiking stick will cost anywhere from $35 to $50. In the past decade, I have probably bought two dozen from various manufacturers, gifts for recent graduates, and Eagle Scouts. They come in all lengths, even pint-sized for youngsters. Give a kid a hiking stick and you’ll start them on the road to adventure.
Maps and trail guide:
Long before there was GPS and smart phones, hikers used paper maps to keep them on the right track. A big part of any expedition is planning. I’ve spent hours sitting at kitchen tables with my buddies pouring over maps and charts. Its good clean fun, and every hour spent planning will likely save you eight hours on the trail.
One of the reasons I hike and backpack is to eat delicious dried food. Unless you work on a ranch in Wyoming, it is socially unacceptable to break out a plank of beef jerky and tear off a “chaw.” But out in the woods, you can do (and eat) whatever you want. That’s why I always pack some tasty treats. So, go out and buy yourself that pocket stove and espresso kit. Nothing beats a hot cup of coffee halfway through a hike. Make yourself some soup or carve up an energy bar and share it with your partners. You’ve burned the calories on the trail, so celebrate!