05 February 2009
The hiking gear vary depending on the terrain, climate and the difficulty level. Sri Lanka being a tropical country you have to be ready for heavy rain at any time. The main items would be a strong big enough backpack, Tent with fly sheets, Good boots or shoes that cover above the ankle, easy to carry small made cooking utensils and of course enough clothes depending on the climate. Navigational items like compass, GPS, maps will be very helpful. Never forget torches or emergency lights. You might need additional items like ropes depending on the terrain.
Some basic but important suggestions are given below.
Backback - The golden rule is you should take just enough items, not too much nor too little. Good strong backpacks can take upto 15 kgs but all depend on how much you can carry at a stretch on difficult terrain. It should be one big pack and not number of smaller bags. It is always advisable to have two free hands while hiking. Always pack your bag in such away that you can easily take frequently used items. Always remember where you have packed every single item inside your bag. Good to pack your dry clothes in a seperate polythene bag in case of rain. But remember to bring those polythene bags back! Generally if you pack heavier items at the top it is easier to carry. In that way the centre of gravity of the bag will lie closer to your shoulders and you will find a remarkable difference. Never allow items to hang or portrude from your bag.
Tent - Always take medium or small scale tents. (1-2 or 3-5 people) Bigger tents will be heavy and difficult to carry. Make sure you can fold it and put it in one backpack. Even if you travel as a team make sure one member can carry the tent. A fly sheet (Additional sheet that covers the tent from the top) is absolutely necessary due to unpredicatable and heavy rain. Read this post for more information on tents.
Boots or shoes - Never wear new shoes for hikes. Believe me you will prefer walking barefoot in the middle of the hike :) Try to wear your used but good enough shoes that fits you best. It is always good to cover upto ankles especially if you are hiking in low country. Remember 90% of snake bites are recorded below ankle!
Cooking utensil - This is a tricky thing. It depends on whether you going to cook while hiking or you try to take pre-cooked items. It is very satsifying to have a cooked meal while camping. There are smaller gas cookers that fix to small gas cylinders. Only problem is that, it is difficult to find such small gas cylinders nowadays. Two small alluminium cooking pots are more than enough. Take a few lighters and a few box of matches. Remember that lighting fires in the wild should be done with utmost safety precautions.
Clothes - If you are camping in high peaks or places like horton you must take appropriate clothing to keep you warm. In general lighter cotton fabrics will be ideal for Sri Lankan climates. Good to take a long sleeve shirt as most of the Sri Lankan jungles have thick undergrowth.
I will bring more details about individual items later.