The hiker’s equipment
Even if we intend to make an easy excursion, perhaps during the day, and at low altitude in a mild climate, it is necessary not to forget some necessary equipment that cannot be missing from the backpack.
To better understand what we are talking about, we use a short story, which allows you to understand what it means to underestimate the risk. Backpacking mess kit lightweight can allow you to carry easy cooking equipment.
Often the “lucky” trekker (you’ll understand later why the adjective) is convinced that the excursion made during the day, perhaps on a low altitude itinerary, can be considered a simple walk and, sometimes, with that bit of presumption that fate is always eager to erase, he walks “equipped” only with a good pair of boots and little else.
These are the good prerequisites to transform even an easy and light trekking into something a bit more serious, because in nature the unexpected is often just around the corner and takes on seemingly harmless appearances, such as those of a beautiful sunset (sic!).
Just the lucky hiker, who walks supported by the conviction of making a walk easy and without particular difficulty, walks along the coastal route quietly, not missing the opportunity to enjoy the reflections of the sun that turn the sea into a mirror, even allowing himself a few more stops than usual to be warmed by its unusually warm rays for the period.
It just so happens, however, that on that weekend there was a change of time and the sun, which made an autumn trek mild and almost summery, will hide behind the horizon an hour earlier than the previous day.
The vigorous hiker, however, taken by the beauty of the bright green of a nature that still does not give way to the colors of the season, is preparing to walk the last stretch of the route that, from a cove jealous guardian of an ancient abbey, goes up to the top of the mountain through a thick forest, to the village where the car is located.
During the ascent, now in the late petrify, our walker realizes that the sun behind him is already sinking into the sea and the light passing through the branches of the trees is getting weaker and weaker.
Only after a few minutes, realizing the incipient darkness, a light bulb in his head lights up, reminding him in a few moments of the recent change of hour and the long stops he spent observing the view.
At the same time he realizes that, unfortunately, the one in his head is also the only light bulb he can turn on, because his backpack is without any equipment, except a water bottle now half-empty.
Despite the accelerated pace and the rapid pace, our hiker reaches the end of the climb when the red of the sunset has now given way to the blue evening sky lit by a few stars and the visibility among the tall shrubs that surround the path is almost zero.
At this point, finding the right junction to take the path that leads to the car park becomes an arduous task, also due to a hint of anxiety that is starting to get stronger and stronger.
Since bad luck even in the dark sees us very well, our hiker once in front of the fork obviously takes the wrong path that leads him to wander lost in the darkness of the forest, with the help of only the light of his smartphone (almost empty) and without landmarks, frantically searching for some sign of the right path.
During the day it didn’t really seem to be in November, but as darkness falls, the almost summer heat is now just a distant memory, swept away by the wind and the drop in temperature that gives some shivers every now and then, difficult to contrast because of the light clothing worn.
Just in those moments the hiker remembers, with a pinch of anger and severity towards himself, the superficiality with which he hastily discarded the idea of carrying an extra sweatshirt in his backpack, betrayed by the morning sun.
The story has a happy ending, the itinerary in fact never strays too far from the inhabited centers, even the wood is located within a triangle formed by three villages in fact, thanks to the last remnant of battery of the phone our friend is able to contact the staff of the Park that, within half an hour, intervenes to accompany him to the car.
The one just told is a true story, which happened during this itinerary in the Park of Portofino, in Liguria and is the starting point for a reflection on the importance of the equipment and the preparation of the backpack, even for excursions considered simple and in the day, always keeping as a guiding principle the idea that the unexpected is always around the corner and it is necessary to be equipped and prepared.
Here are some tips on what to have in your backpack, a kind of survival kit:
- Multipurpose Knife: Without too much frills, however, a blade that does not break, scissors, a saw and an awl, leave James Bond the gadgets too complicated, always remember, the less there is and the less you can break.
- Lighter or matches: (windproof and waterproofed with wax), they could be essential to light a small fire to warm up or cook something.
- A wax candle: Do you wonder what is the use? You know that little wood or that moist straw that never catches fire, here try to place the candle underneath and you’ll see how slowly the flame will ignite. A little trick, but essential under certain conditions.
- Whistle: Be it metal and sound powerful. Our hiker to be tracked in the dark had to lose his voice, a whistle would have been very useful to him, luckily the humidity had not stiffened his vocal cords.
- Thermal sheet: You may have seen it on TV, it’s an aluminum foil that is used to retain body heat in case of emergency. Light and not bulky, but very useful if the sunset surprises you and the temperatures drop suddenly, essential to protect yourself.
- Flashlight: They are easily available in many shops and supermarkets, should never be missing, possibly waterproof and with a long battery life and, why not, a shock resistant model. Also necessary for day trips, especially when you risk being surprised by the sunset. Better still if there are two, one front and the other to hold in your hand.
- Rock lanyard: It is necessary to always have it behind, for a length of at least 5 or 6 meters and a diameter of 3 mm, it can have various uses, a useful support for the tent or backpack and various other uses in emergency situations.
- Compass or GPS: A tool that can be useful in any type of excursion, even daily, especially in very wooded areas where it is difficult to see reference points and orientation on sight, obviously the compass, to be useful, must be accompanied by a map of the area.