TOP 10 FAST AND LIGHT HIKING ESSENTIALS
Fast and light hiking is all about strength: getting fitter, carrying less and moving faster. It's taking only what you need and going as far, as quickly, as possible. Here's all the gear you'll need to pick up the pace through the wilderness.
Hiking shoes are generally lighter, with better shock absorption and flexibility, but lack the ankle support, stability and protection of a boot. If you’re reasonably fit and experienced in walking rough terrain, these are a good option for unrestricted movement.
These tend to be heavier and include ankle protection, which is great for those who prefer more support. You can find out more aobut choosing the right pair in our walking boot guide, but remember the right fit is everything, so make sure to visit us in-store for a free fitting with our experts.
Don't be fooled into thinking poles slow you down - you'll miss them on the descents when you've been moving all day. Short-term, they'll keep you balanced and help you manage your load and preserve energy; long-term, they'll protect your knee cartilage from impact.
A 20-25L pack should be all you need. Look for a back panel system that's lightweight and ventilated to prevent overheating, and lots of exterior storage pockets for easy access while on the move. The most important aspect of your pack is its fit, though: it should be body-hugging to minimise load movement, and properly weighted and adjusted to keep you comfortable and prevent injury. If you can get to us, visit our in-store experts for your free pack fitting to make sure you get it right.
Carrying a map and compass (and knowing how to use both) is essential in case of emergencies, but for everything else, you may want to carry a GPS. GPS devices let you plot your route or pinpoint your exact location in a matter of seconds, making navigation easier and you faster. You can download or enter waypoints and many devices also come with full Ordnance Survey mapping.
Early mornings, dark nights and in-camp, you won't want to head into the wild without a head torch. Look out for a range of brightnesses and light colours for ultimate versatility.
Staying properly hydrated is important, even in colder weather. Dehydration can affect your concentration and decision making, and cause early muscle fatigue.
Reservoirs are the easiest way to stay hydrated while on the move. Most modern packs are hydration-compatible (which means they are built with a special compartment for your reservoir and a front port that holds the drinking tube).
If you’re not so keen on reservoirs, have at least one 1L bottle that is easily accessible. Many bottles have an attachment or corresponding pouch that lets you carry them on your pack’s hip belt.
When you're keeping weight to a minimum, you need a layer that can do it all. Softshells/windproof jackets act as a windbreaker, giving a bit of insulation and water resistance, too. They can also be layered underneath your waterproof in really bad weather.
Ultralight is key when it comes to waterproofing - you want something that won't weight you down, when it's being worn or living in your bag. The more technology a jacket has, the greater the weight, so often you'll be faced with a trade-off between tech and weight - considering what's important to you will be the way to choose.
Discover how to choose the perfect jacket in our waterproof buying guide.
Packing a couple of energy gels and bars provides a welcome boost when you start feeling the burn. Try a few out and see what works for you.
An electrolyte mix in your hydration pouch replenishes vital salts lost in sweat. This helps prevent cramp and fatigue by speeding up the body’s absorption of water. You can also get energy mixes to boost your hike when you start flagging.
First Aid Kit
Experiencing the thrill of the unknown also means being prepared for it. Always carry a first aid kit, survival whistle and thermal bag, and ensure you have a means of communication and backup power for it. It's also a good idea to carry a neck warmer, a pair of light fleece gloves and a hat, too, in case the temperature drops or you have to spend an unexpected night in the wilderness.
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