Hiking: Other Essentials

In previous columns, I’ve talked about food, tents, packs, boots, foot care and outer garments.

Now let’s look at other things that range from nearly essential to nice-to-have.

Cleanliness needs can be met with biodegradable products, or with a part bar of soap from the bathroom and a small shampoo from the travel section of the drug store. Carry them together in a closable plastic bag.

Personal hygiene requirements can be addressed with pre-moistened wipes such as Wet Ones, or other products intended for adults. These can also allow you to keep your feet clean when the weather is too cold for soaking.

Chafing in high heat/friction zones (e.g. inner thighs) can be prevented, or at least minimized, by a daily scrub of the area with an anti-bacterial wipe. The cleanup after the daily call of nature is easy and thorough with a premoistened towelette.

These products are not biodegradable, so keep them in a bag until you can burn them in a fire, or bring them home for disposal.

Any daily-use medication can be carried in the appropriate amounts either in bulk, or in one of those divided plastic containers that also allow you to be certain whether or not you’ve taken the day’s dose.

Duct tape can repair almost anything. Since whole rolls are heavy, take three or four feet and wrap it around your hiking staves, or wrap a foot or so of it around the pen you carry for journal entries or crossword puzzles.

A sailmaker’s needle and dental fl oss can stitch up or patch any opening.

If you aren’t sure of the available water, there are water purification tablets. A miniscule amount of Javex or iodine will also make it safe. It flavours the water, but is still better then getting sick.

A GPS or compass (only if you know how to use them) and an up-to-date topographical map will help you find your way and also help you to make side trips to other interesting spots along the planned route.

At any time of the year, take a pair of gloves for any camp chores, or just for hand warmth. Take a ball cap to allow you to look cool and a toque to keep you warm.

Light long johns (tops and bottoms) take very little room in your pack and are delightful to slip on when the weather starts to remind you of late fall or early winter.

Always have a couple of extra pairs of high-quality socks in your pack. Good wool socks will last a number of days, but a change feels great when it’s time.

A second pair of long johns to sleep in will allow the daily-use ones to air out overnight while you are in dry ones in your sleeping bag.

Take a pair of old sneakers or crocs along for camp shoes. This change of footwear is good for your hiking boots and for your feet.

If you are at that age where nature calls frequently, a clearlylabelled surplus water bottle allows relief without having to leave the tent. For females, a funnellike plastic device is available to provide the same convenience.

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