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Top 10 Fast and Light Hiking Essentials


TOP 10 FAST AND LIGHT HIKING ESSENTIALS  

Whether it’s your first organised hike or you’re just looking to pick up the pace, investing in the right gear can make all of the difference.”Fast and light hiking is about getting fitter and stronger, carrying less weight and moving faster,” says Rory McCrea from Snow+Rock Covent Garden. Here, Rory recommends 10 fast and light hiking essentials to help you achieve your walking goals faster.


1. Footwear

HIKING SHOES

 

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.

 

HIKING BOOTS

 

These include ankle protection, which is a great compromise if you prefer footwear that’s a bit more substantial. Whatever you choose, make sure that it fits you well and that you give yourself plenty of time to break them in!

 

2. Walking Poles

 

Walking poles can make a massive difference, especially on descents when you’re feeling tired. Short-term, they help with balance, load-bearing and energy conservation; long-term, they minimise knee cartilage impact.

 

3. Lightweight Pack

A 20-25L pack should offer more than enough storage. Make sure that you choose a pack that fits your torso correctly. A body-hugging fit is ideal for movement. Look for a back panel system that is lightweight and ventilated to prevent overheating and lots of exterior storage pockets for easy access while on the move.

4. Navigation

Carrying a map and compass (and knowing how to use both) is essential, however you may also want to invest in a GPS. GPS devices make navigation easier, allowing you to plot your route or pinpoint your exact location in a matter of seconds. You can download or enter waypoints and many units come with full Ordnance Survey mapping.

5. Hydration

Staying properly hydrated is important, even in colder weather. Dehydration can affect your concentration and decision making and cause early muscle fatigue.

HYDRATION RESERVOIR

 

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).

 

WATER BOTTLES

 

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.

 

6. Softshell/Windproof Jacket

This is a great ‘go-to’ layer for when the weather turns. Softshells give you a bit of insulation by acting as a windbreaker, have plenty of stretch for comfort and varying degrees of water resistance. If the weather is really atrocious, you can wear your softshell under your waterproof!

7. Waterproofs

Go for something ultralight! If you’re lucky with the weather it will live in your bag, so you don’t want anything too bulky. There are lots of different technologies out there for all activities and budgets. You need to decide what performance elements are the most important to you, be it breathability, durability or packability.

8. Nutrition

GELS/BARS

 

Packing a couple of energy gels and bars provides a welcome boost when you start lagging. Try a few out and see what works for you!

 

ELECTROLYTE DRINKS

 

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.

 

9. Head Torch

On early mornings, evenings and in-camp, a head torch can be invaluable. There’s a head torch out there for every budget, ranging from simple on/off models to high-tech, light-reactive gadgets. 

10. First Aid Kit

Pack a first aid kit, survival whistle and thermal bag, just in case! It’s also a good idea to carry a neck warmer, a pair of light fleece or stretch gloves and a spare phone battery or portable charger.