Get set to hit the trail
Before you plan your next trek, it's important to get the gear right. A look at the absolute essentials
Trekking season in India is usually divided into two zones, pre-monsoon (May-June) and post-monsoon (September-November), but as many seasoned trekkers will tell you, this is a mostly artificial division. Especially when it comes to Himalayan hikes, or the Western Ghats, the monsoon is one of the best seasons. In neighbouring Nepal, the trekking season can extend all the way to December on certain routes. As long as you’re well prepared, and have the right gear to back you up, you can enjoy the outdoors through the year. Here, we look at the absolute essentials, and not additional gear like trekking poles, crampons, helmets and ice-axes.
A thoroughly waterproof shell jacket is important not just to keep the rain out, but also the wind. These can be worn over your T-shirts or jackets. This Forclaz jacket comes with fully taped seams that block any seepage inside, while underarm ventilation zips prevent you from feeling stuffy. Lightweight and with an adjustable hood, this will keep you dry in a veritable storm.
Rs2,999, at Decathlon.in.
Staying warm is non-negotiable and nothing keeps you as warm as a down jacket. They can also be packed very small, which is a bonus. This Quechua jacket has an 85% down and 15% feather filling. There are two hand-pockets, one zipped chest pocket and two mesh pockets inside the jacket.
Rs8,999, on Amazon.in.
A good multi-purpose knife is always useful. This Swiss Army Knife from Victorinox comes with 33 tools, including a corkscrew, scissors, hooks, pliers and four types of knives.
Rs5,480, on Amazon.in.
If you’re planning a trek of over a week, then a 60- to 70-litre pack is a must. One of the best available in India is the Deuter ACT Lite 65+ 10-litre pack. Lightweight and spacious, its basic 65- litre trunk can be increased by another 10 by extending the hood flap. It’s both top and bottom loading, which means you don’t have to struggle to access things at the bottom of the pack. Its aluminium internal X frame offers excellent flexibility, and, since it’s well padded, great comfort too. Ventilation pads along the back ensure that you don’t come away with sweat patches. Its six pockets are a great help and an easy-to- use system of straps makes adjusting the fit of the pack that much easier. There’s also a pair of straps at the bottom to attach your sleeping bag.
Rs18,545, on Amazon.in.
The most important thing in your hiking arsenal is the footwear. One great buy is the Salomon Quest. These boots give you excellent grip and stability, locking in your ankle and heel to prevent a slip or a twisted ankle. Fully waterproof, they’re excellent value for hiking in rainy and snowy conditions.
Rs16,199, on Amazon.in.
Trekking agencies provide two- and three-man tents, but it’s always a good idea to own one. If nothing else, a tent gives you the freedom to head out to the outdoors at a moment’s notice. This two-man, three-season tent from NEMO is compact and ultra-light, but tough as well. Weighing a little over a kilo, it’s easy to pack and carry, while its nylon shell fabric is fully resistant to rain and snow.
Rs47,183, on Amazon.in.
Your trekking trousers should provide ease of movement and be tough. These Quechua hiking trousers are breathable and light, with a zip system that allows you to convert them to shorts in warm weather. If you’re hiking in very rainy conditions, then you should consider carrying a fully waterproof pair of over-trousers as well.
Rs2,499, at Decathlon.in.
Never scrimp on the quality of your sleeping bag, think of it as your portable home. This Marmot bag will keep you toasty in temperatures as low as minus 9 degrees Celsius. The main zipper’s anti-snag slider reduces midnight struggles. An insulated draft tube provides good circulation. It also packs pretty small.
Rs9,999, on Amazon.in.
This is another essential, whether for night hikes, low-visibility conditions, or just to locate things in your backpack. This Fenix head-mounted lamp has five different light modes, including a dazzling maximum of 600 lumens. It comes with a charging cable.
Rs4,500, on Ledflashlights.in.
On a trek, your smartphone functions as an altimeter, a gyroscope, a camera and a portable map. This means that you need to keep it charged. The Probeatz powerbank, with four charging ports, delivers a power of 30,000 mAh, and its long-lasting lithium ion battery makes it perfect for a week-long trek.
Rs4,599, on Amazon.in.