Friday, February 7, 2014

The Outdoor Journal : Essentials for a Hike

Essential Gear to Take on a Hike

By The Outdoor Journal, Friday, December 6, 2013 - 16:05, New Delhi

Seasoned trek leader Sujoy Das gives us the lowdown on essential hiking gear.

Sujoy Das has over thirty years of experience trekking and photographing in the Himalaya. He’s trekked in the Annapurna region six times and in the Everest region more than ten times. Sujoy now heads his own company South Col Expeditions that provides carefully tailored hiking journeys to people with little or no trekking experience. We asked him to give us a list of five essentials to help you pack for your next big hike!

The Five Essentials by Sujoy Das

Sleeping Bag
A good sleeping bag can make the difference between a successful trek and a nightmare. This is possibly the single most important item of equipment that you need to carry with you. A sleeping bag should be selected based on the minimum temperature you expect to encounter on the trek. If you are a cold sleeper, it is recommended to buy a bag which is rated at least 5 degrees Celsius below the lowest temperature. If you plan to trek in the rainy season a synthetic bag would be preferred to down. In cold dry conditions, nothing beats a down bag for warmth and compressibility. Sleeping bags are rated according to the seasons: for a summer or autumn trek buy a three season bag and for a winter trek like the Chadar, a four season is a must. Some of the leading companies who make top notch bags are Marmot, The North Face, Mountain Hardwear and the doyen of all, Western Mountaineering.

Trekkers have replaced the torch with a headlamp as it allows hands-free operation. Some of the reputed headlamps made by Petzl, Black Diamond etc. have different settings and often can run for up to 150 hours on a single set of batteries! For reading inside a tent, answering the call of nature at night and navigating the trail before dawn, a good headlamp is essential.


Like a sleeping bag, a pair of boots can make or mar a trek! You need to make sure that your boots are well broken in before the trek – never start off on a trek with new boots! Always try the new boots with the socks you plan to wear on the trail.  There are a number of options available like – full grain leather, fabric-leather, nubuck etc. Some boots have water proof liners like Gore-tex which is useful in wet conditions. Some of the leading brands are Merrell, Scarpa, Vasque, Lowa and Zamberlan.

Trekking Poles
On of the indispensable aids on a trek, these poles have multifarious uses. You can use them to ford a swift flowing stream, negotiate a steep scree slope,  walk through snow and climb up to the top of a pass. The newer poles fold down to around 12 inches and are very light weight. Leki and Black Diamond are the leading companies manufacturing trekking poles.

Water Purification Filters/Tablets
Iodine and chlorine tablets are the easiest ways of purifying water on the trail. There are also  water filters made by companies like Sawyer, MSR, Katadyn are useful for purifying large quantities of water and are often used by groups on expeditions.

To find out more about South Col Expeditions, go to, or email Sujoy at

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