Hiking requires it's own set of fashion, which is practically speaking, to help you survive some of the harshest weather conditions known to man.
Omphitlhetse Mooki, assistant editor at The Star newspaper is an avid and accomplished hiker, having recently summited one of the highest peaks in Russia and Europe, Mount Elbrus. She is also a member of a walker and hikers group, Ditsamaanaga, who have banded together to share their love for the great outdoors and hiking. They often organise walks and hikes to benefit specific causes as well.
Mooki shares with us what are some of the important pieces of clothing and accessories to have as a serious, female hiker.
1. The clothing/hiking gear:
The Shoes: You need shoes that are going to be comfortable on the terrain. The shoes need to be well padded, waterproof, but also made in such a way that your feet can breathe in the shoe. There are specialised hiking boots for various terrains. For the dry terrain, you'd need hiking boots because they are strong and protect your feet. You also wear two pairs of socks with the boots, normal, thin cotton socks as the first layer and hiking socks as the second layer. The thick ones help prevent your feet from getting blisters-they serve as padding for your foot. Plastic trekking boots are conducive for snow. Hiking cramptons are also attached to the boot in order to allow you to move on snow.
Bottom: For a normal hiking trail like one of the Hennops Hiking Trails in Johannesburg, in summer, you can wear normal gym clothing, as well as leggings and a top. The problem is only that when you walk through bushy areas, Black Jacks stick onto your clothing. Buying proper hiking pants is important, they're breathable, dry-fast (they dry quickly when wet) and have multiple zips in order to be able to change them from long pants to shorts. These pants are also ideal because you can store items in them, the small stuff like lip balm, tissues etc. You also need thermal underwear and fleece pants especially on colder mountains. And on summit night because it's really cold. Ski pants are good when it's really cold.
Dry-fast hiking pants that are good for hiking.
Top: You'll also wear a thermal top, then a thin fleece top and lastly a three-in-one jacket. This is a thick fleece plus gore-tex jacket. For the especially colder hikes, you'll need a malamute jacket which is meant for extreme weather conditions.
Hands: You'll need gloves. If for instance you're hiking up the Drakensberg and it's an ordinary cold night then you can wear those. On colder mountains like Kilimanjaro on summit night, you'll need mitten insulates. Inside these you'll wear inners-normal thin gloves.
Head: Here you'll need a hiking mask that covers your head (and forehead), ears, mouth and nose. Often these masks have air vents in order to allow you to breathe easily. The mask protects you from frost bite as well as sun burn, especially when you hike in snowy areas where the sun's glare is intense. The mask will function as a base layer because you need a thermal beanie. Lastly, a buff is good for protecting your neck.
2. The Accessories
For hiking, one of the core accessories to have is a hiking bag. Either a 35L backpack for one-day hikes, and a 75L (and upwards) sized backpack in order to carry all the necessities for your multi-day hike. Water (hydration packs are good for this), food, collapse-able cooking utensils (in order to save space in your bag),sleeping bag, zip lock bags, a heating pack, a power bank and a headlamp. Propellers or trekking poles are great for difficult terrains and muli-day hikes. They become your secondary legs-you use them to balance.You will also need toiletries which include wet wipes and sanitiser.
The trekking poles.
"The idea is to pack as light as possible. You must remember you're carrying almost 20kgs on your back, plus your body weight. So packing smart will help you", she said.
Here Omphitlhetse is pictured with members of Ditsamaanaga on their Mount Elbrus hike. Photo:Instagram
A post shared by Omphitlhetse Vivian Mooki (@omphitlhetsemooki) on