Bushwalking is increasing in popularity as families and individuals discover this relatively inexpensive way to enjoy nature and get in shape. Though it is true that one can spend hundreds of dollars on high-tech outdoor gear, it is not necessary to have the latest-and-greatest gadgets to get started on the trails. Anyone who is able to walk even a moderate distance, including young children and older adults, can find a trail to match their abilities and fitness levels.
Comfort and safety are very important, and can be the difference between calling it quits after your first hike or pursuing many future outdoor adventures. The following gear list is suitable for an afternoon of exploring well-marked trails, with tips on how to cut down on initial cost.
Leave your cotton clothes at home. Wear and take clothing that is made from wool or synthetic material. These materials are still able to keep you warm when wet and dry quickly. Wet cotton can quickly chill you on even a cool summer day, leading to a risk of hypothermia. Search the thrift stores and watch for sales. Outdoor clothing is easily accumulated this way at a minimal cost. You should begin with the following list:
Extra pair of dry socks
Even on a short hike a first-aid kit should be included in your backpack. It only takes an hour or two for a blister to begin to develop, or one tumble to scratch your knee. You may either put together your own first-aid kit or buy a ready-made one. A small kit suitable for a short hike close to home will only cost a couple of dollars. For an afternoon hike, include in your first aid kit:
Other Safety-related items:
Map and compass
Travel plan left with friend or family member
At least one hiking partner
Food and Water
For an afternoon of bushwalking/ hiking, you do not need to worry too much about specially planning your diet. Raid your pantry for food already on hand and make your own granola bars to keep the cost of food down. Don’t forget a bottle or two of water.
Some sweet snacks
Arguably, the most important gear is what is on your feet. If your feet are miserable, the rest of you will be, too. It is fine to begin your hiking adventures in a good pair of running shoes that fit well, but as the length and difficulty of your hikes increase, along with the load on your back, you will want to invest in a good pair of hiking shoes/boots that will support your ankles. Unfortunately, hiking footwear will probably be the most expensive part of your initial investment, but this is not the place to skimp on quality and fit for the sake of cost.
Lastly, you will need something to carry everything you are not wearing. Any backpack you have around the house will serve the purpose until you find something you like better. Hip belts and chest straps are nice and add to carrying comfort, but they are not necessary for a light load. Again, watch for store sales, the classifieds and maybe even the thrift shops for an inexpensive backpack.
The above is a list of physical items you need to start bushwalking or hiking, but perhaps more important than all the right gear is a positive attitude. If you are determined not to enjoy hiking, then spare your trip partners the complaining and stay home. However, if you are willing to give it a chance, pack up your gear, load your friends in the car and head out for fresh air and exercise; you may surprise yourself and find you’ve discovered a favourite pastime!