While it's spontaneous once one starts the hike, a lot of thought has to go in beforehand. Especially in packing the right gear. It's not just the extra weight one will have to carry, but more importantly, my backpack and its contents has to almost single-handedly ensure I have a safe, comfortable (for what it's worth), and fun experience. And I come out of it wanting to do it again.
Below is a list of DIY Hiking Gear suitable for an overnight camp in the Sahyadris. It must be updated for other terrains (eg-Himalayas) or longer durations.
Camping Essentials List (This list contains indispensable camping tools and equipment)
- A tent - The Quechua 2 person tent is affordable and sturdy. It is easy to pitch and packs up compactly
- Tarpaulin - To lay on the designated camping site, before pitching the tent. This will soften the grass and stones underneath and give a porch like feeling to your shelter for the night.
- Sleeping bag - If given a choice, buy the openable one, that can be used either as a light mattress covering the floor of the 2 person tent. Or when cold, can be snuck into while zipped up.
- Bedsheet - To cover self in case using the sleeping bag as a queen-sized mattress. This is an essential, as it can also double up as a stretcher or be torn to make a sling in case of any injuries.
- Hiking shoes - Depending on the terrain one is going into. Or can choose a generic one with a rugged sole, high ankles and a tough skin.
- Trek pants- Loose, comfortable, preferably full length and quick dry. To dry off the sweat, and to reduce exposure to mosquitoes.
- Cotton/ Quick dry T-shirt- An earthy colour if possible, to avoid eye sore to fellow trekkers. And a lighter colour, to minimise heat absorption.
- Inner wear & socks- Light coloured, comfortable cotton will feel the most comfortable.
- Slippers- To change into while relaxing at night, and once the trek is done.
- An entire set of spare clothes, in case an unpredicted shower drenches us, or you find a lake that you are tempted to jump into without skinny dipping.
- Watch- Sweat proof straps, backlight are helpful features. Pedometer, altitude and compass are even better features.
- Jacket- Depending on the season. Windproof, water repellent, hooded and foldable into its own pocket are some of my favourite features.
Gear- Accessories & Miscellaneous:
- Water- The elixir of Life. At least 5 litres per person for an overnight camp, keeping in mind that it will be used for drinking, washing up, cooking and everything else.
- Head torch - An absolute must. One needs to be handsfree to pitch a tent in the dark, among other things. Head torches are available for as low as INR 299.
- Personal toiletries – A small bottle of liquid soap that can double up as handwash, facewash and any other wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, moisturizer with SPF, toilet paper are essentials, which can be upped or reduced based on need for personal care
- Mosquito repellent – An absolute must! Vicks vapour rub is a sticky substitute in case forgotten
- Basic first aid – Muscle spray, paracetamol, anti-diarrhoea and anti-allergen will form a good starter kit. Safety first, always!
- Garbage Bags – Leave no trace!
- Power bank, charging cable – Knowing there is back up definitely reduces stress. Keeping the phone on flight mode can help in conserving a lot of the battery to begin with.
- Earphones/ Kindle with backlight- Depending on your need for entertainment
Gear- Meals (for a basic meal):
- Box of Candles & lighter– To light 7-8 candles together and create a mini stove/ bonfire. In case one cannot find firewood or other reasons.
- Aluminium Cup with Handles – To heat water over the candles, and to use for drinking beverages.
- Cup noodles – Not the healthiest meal, but definitely high on convenience.
- Premix of Beverage of choice – From masala chai, milk coffee to hot chocolate, all premixes are readily available.
- Snacks – Nuts, trail mixes, chocolate bars, cookies are always handy to munch on the way for an instant recharge.
And last but not the least, a good backpack to pack up all your camping essentials. Hallmarks of a good rucksack for me are-
- Front load rather than top load, for direct access of all items inside.
- External cases for quick access various items- especially bottles.
- Good back and strap support, so that the pack ergonomically aligns to the back and becomes part of the body weight.
Also, packing cubes are god’s gift for anyone looking to have an easy experience living out of a backpack. Converting each cube into a shelf of sorts, will save time and mental effort in locating a tiny lighter from among the array of items.
Now that we have all of these items, or a better upgraded list based on own requirements and camping essentials , we are all set for anything to come! The sense of power that a well packed bag containing the right gear can give, is unmatchable. Now we can have the freedom to choose where to stop and set up base for the night, based on level of tiredness, time or even in case one chances upon a beautiful spot too good to not spend the night there!