So you’ve got the basics (backpack, boots, good socks). For a proper multi-day hike, you’re going to need more. Here are five multi-day hiking essentials we recommend.
1. Black Diamond Trail Sport 3 Trek Poles
R999 for two, rammountain.co.za
I admit, I scoffed at the idea of trekking poles when first packing for the Otter Trail. I just didn’t think I’d end up using them –I was so wrong. Although I only used one, it drastically helped me to conserve energy and I used it as a lever to get up and over the (very, very many) steps on the trail. When not in use, the telescopic pole collapses easily and I strapped it down the side of my pack. The tips are replaceable (they got pretty beat up with all the rocky pummelling) and I really liked the comfy, squishy grips. Arguably, my number one multi-day hiking essential!
2. K-Way Down Jacket
Exceptionally lightweight at just 280g, this cosy jacket is versatile too – it doubles up as a (tiny) pillow. Although filled with warming down, the jacket is vapour permeable and windproof for superior snugness. Teamed with a decent waterproof rain jacket you’ll be warm and dry for every day out on the trail. This jacket also has a great guarantee and will often be repaired free of charge if snagged. Available in a male or female cut and a wide variety of colours.
3. First Ascent Two-litre Hydration Bladder
A bladder definitely simplifies a multi-day trail and makes it far easier to sip as you need to, rather than having to take off your pack to reach the water bottle every time. Generally speaking a two-litre bladder is a good size for multi-day hikes. The best things about this one are the quick- connect hose, which allows easy removal of the bladder while leaving the tube attached to the pack, and the magnetic clip that attaches to your backpack strap to keep it in place. A three-litre option is also available, but just remember an extra litre weighs an extra kilo.
4. LuminAID PackLite Nova
Most hikers are sure to have a decent headlamp, but having a lantern makes organising and food prep that much easier – especially when there’s a group of you. This inflatable solar lantern is waterproof, rechargeable and surprisingly bright for its compact size, easily illuminating a 10-metre diameter around it. It also takes up minimal space because it deflates and straps to the outside of your backpack. The battery-indicator lights are a very handy feature too.
5. Campingaz Bleuet Micro Plus Hiking Stove
Sure, you can subsist on energy bars and survive on dinner that doesn’t require cooking, but hot food makes for far happier long-distance hiking – especially in the colder months when you need it to increase body temperature. This hiking stove is a good value-for-money buy (especially if you’re not a regular hiker but want to tick off a bucket-list trip such as the Otter). It boils water in roughly five minutes and you can boil up to a litre about 30 times with one 240g canister (R70). It needs to be sheltered when in use, but the pot sits close to the flame and the stovetop unit has four arms for better stability (most stovetops only have three). Plus, at just 420g including the canister, this set won’t add too much weight to your pack. Just remember to pack matches.
The lightweight Jetboil Sumo Cooking System is a superb choice if you hike often and want to invest. It boils water faster than the Campingaz option (one minute faster, to be precise), has better simmer control for cooking and comes with a built-in pot that you can eat out of, which saves space. (Don’t use other pots with it, like I did. You’ll melt the wind deflector and damage the FluxRing).
You can’t fly with gas cartridges (not even in the hold) so be aware of stoves that only use own-brand canisters such as this Campingaz stove and make sure you can get your canisters on the ground wherever you are hiking.
This story first appeared in the April 2017 issue of Getaway magazine.
Our April issue features a guide to the Otter Trail, the sunniest roadtrip in SA, and 12 awesome farmstays.