A catchy title I am sure you will all agree. Taking note of this, below I have compiled my top thirteen things which although may not be included on our, or indeed anyones, kit list help make any trek the memorable, laughter filled experience they can be. Despite shouts from across the desk of ‘include a positive mental attitude’ I have decided to stick to the more tangible objects and devices you can actually stick in your back pack.
1. Toilet Paper
Perhaps the most important single object you can take up the mountain after your clothes and worn in walking boots would be toilet paper. Forget this at your peril. There isn’t much reason to explain why this is essential but it’s certainly not for making the below;
2. Pub Quiz Trivia
Despite being absolutely shattered when arriving in camp, it’s never a good idea to go to bed straight away as it will lead to a sleepless night and a likely lack of appetite at dinner. Conversation is all well and good but after 5 days of idle chatter and verbal diarrhoea having a pack of cards, an old set of top trumps, a travel scrabble set or a good old pub trivia book become as valuable as manna from heaven.
Although trekking is about appreciating the beauty of nature, making new friendships and learning to converse without a reliance on google, which I myself have grown particularly attached to, there are certainly times when you just want to get your head down listen to a bit of James Blunt or Maroon 5 and power on through the darkness of the night to the peak of the mountain or climb. On a similar note to this, if you rely on Spotify or Soundcloud (there are other music streaming services available) make sure you have made your playlists available offline before heading up into the mountains. There is nothing worse than the constantly buffering first 5 seconds of a song in your ears for a 10 hour hike.
4. Spare shoes
Naturally your walking boots will become your best friend and your worst enemy on any extended trek but it is your second pair of shoes which will become your true best friends. The feeling of taking off your boots after a long days walking and slipping into something a little more comfortable comes close to that feeling you get waking up at 7am on a weekend and then realising it’s a weekend! Although loose fitting comfortable shoes are the dream, do not take flip flops as the ground on many campsites can be rough underfoot.
Buffs are cool and getting cooler. This is undoubted. Whether it’s manly Che Guevaraesque musk it eludes of the ability to hide emotion under a mask of cotton and nylon they are certainly in. But on a mountain they provide more than just an aesthetic appeal. Buffs provide multiple uses from wiping dust and sweat from your face down to keeping your neck warm. I’d certainly bring one, if not two – in fact why not go crazy, wrap one round your wrist and bring three!?
6. Energy Snacks
When buying snacks for any trip or expedition I normally fill my baskets with nuts, energy gels, power bars, rabbit food and high sugar products – basically anything Holland and Barrett sells for less than the price of remortgaging my house. I do this, in the expectation that the checkout clerk will ask what adventure I am about to undertake and I can then regale her with tales of exploration and peril. This never happens. Normally I leave the shop £20 less well off with food I will invariably bring back 2 weeks later unopened and now unappealing.
My advice to you if buy snacks you like and want, not what you think you will need. Dextrose tablets, energy gels and power bars are all well and good but what you really miss and want when trekking is home comforts – chocolate, biscuits, crackers and chews tend to have just as much energy in as their ‘healthier’ cousins and you will certainly be craving these more. Also who needs to worry about calories when you are climbing a mountain!
7. Camera (Go Pros are the dream)
I no longer own a camera, my phone does the job. When trekking it is worth buying a camera, your phone may be out of battery, or inoperable at freezing temperatures – even if it’s just a disposable camera – bring a camera with you on your trip! After all part of the reason you signed up to do this trip was to boast about it on Facebook! Who know’s what you could capture…
8. Power Pack
In lieu of the above, batteries and power packs are a really handy addition to any backpack. Whether it be the new fangled solar powered chargers, the traditional 12 pack of double AA’s or something even cleverer they certainly are worth their weight in gold. I always use a Duracell two charge mini cell which does a good job and holds charge at altitude and freezing temperatures. They are about £15 and can be purchased here.
A very boring object but again invaluable, not merely for those budding wildlife artists out there but in almost everyone of our treks a pen is a handy item to have with you whether it be for signing into national parks, filling in border security forms or just keeping score in a game of rummy. By having a pen you will be an instant saviour in a number of situations.
10. Selfie Stick (Insert Fad as appropriate)
Writing this in 2015, it would be hard not to include a selfie stick. Perhaps if I had written this last year it would be ‘a trip hashtag’, a furbie, beanie baby, an appropriate BEBO status or even a tamagotchi. Actually a tamagotchi would still be worth a space in anyones bag. But if a selfie stick was invented for a reason it was surely for this.
11. Your Charity T-Shirt
Charity T-shirts are the bread and butter of my wardrobe, invariably they are a tad on the large side so give me the inspiration to get out there and hit the gym but also the perfect talking point. Who doesn’t want an excuse to talk about that time they ran a marathon for a cancer charity or climbed a mountain to help impoverished children around the world. But they are even more important on your trekking adventures, not only are they great to help identify the rest of the group at the airport, they are also a stark reminder of why you are putting yourself through this and the thousands of pounds you have raised! If you adorned your finest charity rig on the summit or climax of your walk who knows you might even get a cheeky charity Facebook share…
12. Some form of timekeeping instrument
Sundials and Grandfather clocks perhaps not, but having some form of timekeeping instrument will help keep you sane on the mountain, whether it be waking up in the middle of the night and being unaware of the time of simply knowing what time of day it is. Basic 90’s Casio’s come with the added benefit of making you look mildly hipster. Bear Grylls wears a Casio, Bear Grylls has climbed many a mountain. Job done.
13. Antiseptic Hand gel
To end of a slightly more sterile note, get it? Antiseptic hand gel should be the very top thing you squeeze into one of your side pouches, mountains, walls, deserts are all wild and sometimes hostile places after a mornings trekking it is always worth squirting a little gel on your hands before putting them anywhere near your mouth. ‘It’s always better to have a squirt than have the squits’ as no one said ever.