PACKING CHALLENGE: 10 PIECE HIKING WARDROBE
If someone tells you it’s ok to wear sneakers and exercise gear when you go hiking, don’t believe them. If someone gives you advice in a blog post about what to wear when you go hiking, featuring beautiful flat lay photography of denim jeans, sneakers and a leather backpack, don’t believe them.
Why? Because there is a huge difference between walking and hiking, and I want people who come to this blog to know the difference and be inspired by genuine hiking adventures.
So in the spirit of being back in Tasmania recently, and (finally) conquering Cradle Mountain Summit, the team at Mountain Designs challenged me to create a 10 Piece Hiking Wardrobe. I hope you enjoy the photos as well!
As I knew I would be hiking around Cradle Mountain, where the weather can dramatically change from warm and sunny to a below zero snowstorm in a matter of seconds, the first item in my 10 Piece Hiking Wardrobe is a pair of proper hiking boots. Whilst they might not be the most fashionable pair of shoes I own, I knew I would be thanking myself when I was clambering trails in thigh high deep in snow or walking across ankle deep wet tracks. My ankles were supported and my feet stayed warm and dry – the whole time. Comfortable feet are the holy grail of hiking!
Bonus Tip: Always buy a pair of hiking boots at least half to a full size bigger than your shoe size. This will allow room for your toes to move around when you hike, but also stop the tops of your toes from jamming the front of the boot when you climb down steep mountains.
When I hiked around Cradle Mountain a few years ago, I thought it would be ok to wear my exercise gear. Yeah, well no. When it rained they were soaked through and didn’t dry - and this was a 12 hour hike. So when the temperatures dropped down to 5 degrees, I was freezing. It was awful! The same applies for hot climates, the last thing you want is your sweaty hiking gear to stick to you. So good hiking pants are essential because if they get wet, they dry quickly and I prefer long hiking pants because they still keep me cool even when it’s warm. Plus when I go hiking, I am usually clambering through tall grass and shrubs so having long pants means I don’t get cuts and scratches on my legs, and I also don’t pick up any tiny little critters along the way.
Unless you’re hiking in Peru in the height of summer, waterproof pants should be carried like an umbrella – for those ‘just in case’ moments. If you plan on hiking in Tasmania, they are essential. It rained and snowed whilst hiking around Cradle Mountain on my three day trip, and I wore them every day. I was super impressed with their performance and also felt a little snug when I made it back to my lodge in the evening, because I was bone dry underneath. Hurrah!
The same theory applies with hiking pants as it does with hiking shirts. Hiking shirts keep you cool when it’s hot and keep you dry when it’s wet. I prefer to wear long sleeved men’s hiking shirts as they are roomier. I also always choose long sleeves for warmth and sun protection. As well as keeping those pesky mosquitoes at bay.
I learned the hard way – you cannot expect to go hiking anywhere cold around without thermals, especially anytime of the year at Cradle Mountain. My biggest tip is make sure they are black, long and wool. Don’t be tempted to spend less and get the synthetic kind, they will only make you sweat. Invest in 100% wool. Also when you go hiking, your body temperature raises after a few minutes, so don’t wear millions of layers at the start of your hike as you’ll soon get hot and need to peel them off. I generally wear a thermal, hiking shirt, a duck down vest and a gortex jacket. When I stop for a snack or lunch break, my body temperature drops pretty quickly so I keep a down jacket in my backpack to throw over as I sip on a nice cup of hot chai. However, thermals probably won’t be needed if you’re hiking in a hot climate!
DUCK DOWN VEST/JACKET
If you happen to be hiking somewhere cold like I was, I highly recommend a down vest to keep your chest warm. In addition to your head, I find the chest is the most important section of your body to always keep warm. A duck down vest is perfect for this. Additionally, if you’re hiking somewhere cold and know you’ll be taking a few breaks, a down jacket is perfect to throw on as your body temperature drops. Most down jackets are designed to pack down really well so they won’t take up much room in your backpack.
As with waterproof pants, a waterproof jacket is essential when hiking if there is even the slightest chance it will or could rain. My biggest tip is to ask for a Gortex jacket, it’s an incredible material and is 100% waterproof. I took my Mountain Designs jacket to the test in Tasmania and needless to say, through snow, sleet and rain – nothing went through it.
Bonus Tip: To all the ladies, don’t feel like you have to shop in the Women’s section at Mountain Designs. What I love most about them is that the Men’s gear is suitable for women of all shapes.
BEANIE + GLOVES
When you go hiking there are some accessories you will absolutely need - especially in a cold climate. Two non-negitionables are a beanie and gloves. You’ll be surprised how quickly your fingertips will get cold. Invest in a woolen beanie and waterproof gloves.
If you plan on doing a serious hike through lots of hilly terrain, I highly recommend a pair of walking poles. I would not have survived without them in Peru, nor would I have been able to hike to the top of Cradle Mountain Summit either. They are perfect for stability whilst also taking the pressure of your knees.
Bonus Tip: Get poles that have a strip which you can put your hand through so in the event you need to use your hands, you won’t lose your poles.
When you go hiking, your backpack is your best friend. No matter the weight, a good backpack is one that doesn’t put strain on your back or shoulders. I prefer the canvas style backpacks as they are more durable as you walk through rough trees and shrubs. Do know that the length of your hiking trip will determine your backpack of choice.
This post is in collaboration with Mountain Designs. All thoughts and product preferences are my own.