Ten Hiking Must Haves


Tags: Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, hiking gear, hikes, born to explore, richard wiese

Nothing quite matches the feeling of doing what you’re always wanted to do in life. And for more and more people, that means climbing a mountain. Whether that mountain is in your state or on the other side of world, the last thing you want to do is bail midway. Having climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro many times, Richard Wiese, former president of the Explorers Club and host of "Born to Explore," the adventure travel tv series on ABC, knows what it takes to be prepared. Here, he shares his top ten must-haves when embarking on any big climb.

Wool garments. It sounds low tech but wool is one of the most versatile fabrics on earth. It can get wet and still keep you dry plus it is anti microbial which means that you can wear the same socks or shorts without them mountain climbingsmelling.

Warm sleeping bag. Nothing is better at the end of the day than crawling into an oversized warm sleeping bag. I once had a Kilimanjaro client tell me that he “slept warm” and a light sleeping bag would be fine. He wound up leaving the expedition after three cold nights on the mountain. It taught me a lesson as a guide, to be a bit more insistent that hikers have the right clothing and a warm bag.

Effective rain gear. Sure you have used garbage can liners at sporting events in the rain but on a big mountain where hypothermia can kill you at 50 degrees, it may not work as well. A well ventilated and proper fitting rain suit can save your life and make you more comfortable.

Duct tape. Books have been written about the versatility of duct tape. I always wrap my water bottle (to keep it cooler) and my walking poles with duct tape. It is great for putting over blisters or for sprained ankles as well as repairing equipment on the go.

Down vest. I find this item very versatile since you can put it over just about anything and it keeps your core warm. It stuffs small and is nice to wear around camp without feeling like the Michelin Man.

Hand sanitizer. The fastest way to get a bug or dysentery is throughiking gear for mountain climbingh hand to mouth contact. Enough said.

Strong Sunglasses. People underestimate how powerful the sun’s rays are at high altitudes. Many years ago on Kilimanjaro I was busy enjoying the summit and taking a lot of pictures without glasses. Later that night it felt as if someone had thrown sand in my eyes. I spend two uncomfortable days climbing down almost blind.

Pee bottle. Don’t laugh. Nothing is more miserable than getting out of your tent and going out to pee in the middle of the night. It can also be dangerous as most people are groggy and can trip and hurt themselves.

Walking poles. Walking poles have lots of uses but primarily help you with balance preventing ankle sprains or falls. Poles also take a tremendous amount of pressure off your knees. I like the ones that have an expandable telescope with shock absorbers.

Photos: Courtesy of Richard Wiese, Born to Explore.

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