You have made your decision on your Sidetracks Women hiking tour, and now you are planning what your perfect hiking equipment should look like.
Our tours often take you well off the beaten track, and on uneven, varied terrain. This means sneakers just aren't enough. We strongly recommend proper hiking boots, both for the ankle support they provide and the better tread to avoid slips and falls. At the very least, you will need trekking shoes, which are often not ankle-high but do offer better support and sturdiness.
These shoes belonged to a lovely woman who walked the Awatere Tussock Track with us last year. Her hiking boots were functional - once upon a time... Unfortunately after being stored in a cupboard for many years without being used meant her boots ended up like this after just 2 days!
So now you have good shoes, it's ok to use just any socks, right? Not quite. As with most clothes for the outdoors, cotton is a big no-no, and that also applies to socks. Make sure they are synthetic or wool, ideally padded and made for hiking (to prevent blisters). Or you might want to experiment with 2 layers of thin socks, which will also help avoid blisters. Either way, make sure to test your socks and shoes together BEFORE starting your trip. Walk around, up and down stairs, around the block or park and make sure there is no friction or any sore spots anywhere.
This is New Zealand. Experiencing four seasons in one day is not uncommon. Our weather can change quickly, especially here in the South Island and a good rain jacket will protect you from both wind chill and rain. So, if it is that cold, blustery southerly wind, a biting easterly, roaring northwester, or a good old rainstorm, a good jacket is sure to keep you warm, dry and happy no matter what. We recommend any brand, as long as it is waterproof, breathable and has a hood. Borrow one if you have to! Think about proper rain gear like you think about a first aid kit: you hope you'll never need it but are grateful when you need it that it's there! Happy days.
What about rain pants you might ask? Opinions are somewhat divided about their necessity, and good rain pants can be pricey, but some people absolutely swear by them. It really depends if you are the "shorts and long johns wearing - I have a good rain jacket and don't mind wet legs as long as I am warm" type – or the "I am only happy when I stay dry throughout and I can't stand wet legs" type. Either way, if you buy or borrow rain pants, make sure they are the good, breathable type. Otherwise, you will start sweating from the inside and just end up wet inside and out.
As far as your other clothes are concerned, it is important to remember the No. 1 rule in the outdoors - cotton is rotten (this applies literally to everything from your underwear to your gloves). That being said, there is no need for specialised or branded clothes, any normal 'activewear' will do, as long as it is quick-drying and cotton free.
Since we transport your luggage on all our tours, all you need is a daypack to carry during the day. However, you will still be carrying this pack for several hours. That's why it needs to be as functional and comfortable as possible while able to hold everything you need for the day. From experience, this means the pack should be about 25-30l in size and have a proper frame / harness intended for hiking. We highly recommend using a pack that has a hip belt. A few hours in and you will wish you had one!
Hiking Poles/ Walking Sticks
The notion that hiking poles or walking sticks are only for the frail or injured is long gone. Their benefits are obvious and they feel amazing when you have given them a go. It is one of those items that – no matter your age or fitness level – once you have tried them, you will not remember how you could have ever walked without them. This also applies to the tracks we are going on. With hiking poles there is a HUGE reduction of strain on knees, ankles and hip joints, especially on those long downhills. And of course, they improve your ability to balance over creeks, boulders, up scree slopes or down muddy banks. Also, if you suffer from swollen hands when walking with a pack, walking with poles usually eliminates this. Lesser known is the fact that using or holding even just one pole while walking causes your body position to change ever so slightly and makes your whole body go 'ahhhh'. You are by far more relaxed, especially when carrying a pack for hours; even though it might just be a light one. We dare you to try walking poles and are happy to lend you a set for your next trip – just ask. You won't regret it.
PS Drop us a line and let us know, what's the ONE item you ALWAYS take in your pack?