12 Basic essentials for desert hiking

The hiking community grows each day and manufacturers are introducing a lot of new gear, some are cheap and some are expensive and some that aren’t that useful.

It’s always easy to find the essentials and after organizing a fair number of hikes around Sinai and sharing stories and experiences with other hardcore hikers from around the world, we here at Sinai Gate have compiled the 12 basic essentials for hiking.

  1. Comfortable hiking boots\sandals.

Most important, if not the most important factor in hiking is your footwear. It has to be comfortable, the right fit, flexible and ‘broken in’ before a hike. You wouldn’t believe how painful your feet can get during a hike because of the wrong footwear.

  1. Flashlight\head-torch

A torch is mandatory, and a spare torch is highly recommended because you never know what may happen or when you will need it. Buy one that works with rechargeable batteries and take along spares for your adventure.

  1. Backpack

Get the right size for your packing needs. Consider the following: Adjustable shoulder and hip straps as it needs to fit your body size, enough pockets for the things that you need with easy access to a flash light or water. Pick a strong material so it won’t break during the hike and if it’s not waterproof, get a rain cover for it.

  1. Sleeping bag

Hiking means camping out-doors in valleys and mountains or sleeping in basic cabins which won’t have any bedding material. Get a sleeping bag based on the season you’re hiking in so you can determine its thickness and material. Light and small is better for easier carrying.

  1. Personal cutlery

It’s good to carry a metal or wooden plate, spoon, knife and sealed cup in your back-pack. Sharing is caring but it’s always easier to have your own cutlery to avoid using tins that may cut you or using your hands. Also, some people might not be comfortable with you handling food with your hands. Hiking is also about respecting others comfort zones.

  1. Wet wipes and\or toilet paper

99% of the time there are no toilets or showers on hiking trails so, depending on your level of comfort of collecting dust and dirt, you’ll need wet wipes to wash your armpits and other areas to avoid sweat rashes and bad smells. And of course, when you need to toilet behind a tree or rocks.

  1. Warm clothes, preferably waterproof

Deserts are hot during the day but don’t let that fool you. Most deserts night temperatures drop to near or below freezing. There are a lot of clothes on the market specially designed for the outdoors. Thermal underwear and fleece lined jackets, gloves, socks, beanies and neck warmers are just a few of the life-saving items that can make or break your hiking experience.

  1. Energy snacks

Hiking requires a lot of energy. Especially, when you’re continuously climbing for three hours with small breaks. Fill those breaks with raisins, dates, dry fruits, nuts and energy bars. Good experience exists when the body is healthy and satisfied.

  1. First-aid

Your hiking guide should have a fully packed first aid kit suitable for the conditions your hiking in (desert, forest, snow) and should discuss with you how to use it and where to find it in case of emergency. And it’s also good to carry your own that should contain basics like bandages, flexible knee and ankle socks, band-aids, hydration solution, antiseptic cream, pain killer, aspirin, water purifier tablets and diarrhea tablets. Let your fellow hikers know where to find your first aid kit in case of emergencies.

  1. Garbage bag

Carry a bag – whether plastic or recyclable to collect your rubbish. Leave no trace behind other than a footstep.

  1. Extra dry clothes

Despite the implication, deserts are not always dry so it happens often when your footwear gets wet while drinking from a fountain or spring, and wet socks can cause a lot of issues like stinky feet due to bacteria, blisters, feeling of discomfort which may lead to bad moods and a negative experience and of course, what everyone fears at the alter – cold feet which will cause your whole body to feel cold.

  1. Lighter and matches

Keep a lighter close at hand and matches in a waterproof container whether you smoke or not. You might need to light a fire, break a rope, light a candle and so on.

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