Being outdoors a lot, I often come across fellow hikers with large packs full of unnecessary gadgets which adds up to excessive weight being carried and an indication by their body language that they are not enjoying their hiking experience .
It’s a difficult discussion as everyone has different needs and finds comfort with certain equipment and it is a matter of choice. I have come across hikers using those gadgets that should really only be used if you get stranded like you often see on TV.
One thing I also notice is the number of hikers that carry large survival knives in or on their packs when they are out for a day hike which I believe is partly due to the number of survival documentaries one sees on the television.
Bear Grylls , Les Stroud ( Survivor man , Beyond Survival ) Dual Survival and Naked and Afraid all are entertaining and do have some valid tips to survive in emergency situations but they do entice us to carry equipment that firstly we do not need, and that becomes a danger into ourselves .
For example a large Survival Knife, or any large knife, can be a dangerous item to carry exposed on your pack or used with the intention to frighten the life out of a potential mugger. If you are not an expert handler of knives, you would be well advised to refrain from carrying one as it could end up in the the hands of the other person, and then you would be in serious trouble.
Rather consider carrying a Taser or some Mace spray.
There are many gadgets in today’s outdoor shops but I always encourage other hikers to keep things simple and basic. This comes from my days hiking as a kid with those large canvass satchels, plastic cups and a bottle of Oros and the faithful box of Sarmies. We seemed to have had more fun times then with little or no gadgets – it was the adventure that got us excited.
A Swiss Army knife, a zip lock bag of snacks, a light jacket, 1lt water bottle, hat, sunglasses, cell phone and a small lightweight pack can comfortably get you by and a few other items depending on your activities (Bird Watching etc.).
I have broken my hiking down to the following:
1 hour to 3 hour walks : Go light just a water bottle or small pack
Day Hike: A light pack with pre packed snacks or a light meal
Over Night or 3 day Hike : Medium Pack with sleeping, cooking and food extras
5 Day and longer Hikes : Large Pack (70litres and more)
There are tons of lists, check lists and gear reviews on the internet that can assist you with packing for hikes and what you should and should not carry but in the end it’s up to you.
Next time you go out, try leave the backup items at home and remember that water and hydration are the most important things to carry – which is probably the heaviest item anyway in any pack.
With about one and a half months of favourable weather left for summer camping and hiking, take the kids for a weekend they will treasure for the rest of their lives or, if you have no kids, take yourself.
Carry less and you will enjoy your walking experiences.