What equipment do you need for a 3 day Drakensberg hike?
Alrighty then….the ultimate question when it comes to a multi day hike in the Drakensberg mountains-what equipment do I need?
First of all, let’s start off with a list of things that you don’t need.
- Despite popular belief, you do not need t0 pack a harbour tetra block into your backpack. Although they do have their advantages on a Drakensberg hike, they do tend to cause a few major concerns to the environment.
2. It is also advisable to leave your ego and pride behind. They are heavier to carry than the tetra blocks. And there is no use for them in the mountains.
And now for the main event……what equipment should you bring on a typical 3 day Drakensberg hike.
Just a friendly reminder-you are going to be hiking for 3 days covering anything from 8-15km a day. That may seem easy but add a heavy backpack, the uneven terrain, altitude, extreme weather conditions and the gradient and it doent seem easy any more. All of a sudden, the average hiking speed drops to 1.5km per hour in some instances. This means a typical 10km hike can take up to 7 hours sometimes. Now imagine carrying a heavy, hairdryer, coke bottle, fluffy pillow infused backpack for that long. The result will be a grumpy and tired hiker. It also usually lands up in us, the poor guides, carrying that backpack for clients because they are too tired. Not a good recipe for a satisfying and rewarding hiking expereience.
So……… here is what we say you pack for a 3 day Drakensberg hike.
- 1 pair of hiking pants ( yes dear. Only 1. Who cares if they get dusty and dirty over the 3 days? Its just dust. You won’t die)
- 3 pairs of hiking socks
- 1 pair of hiking boots ( or trail shoes if ytou prefer. Just remember that if it rains trail shoes are not waterproof. So if you can handle wet foots and bad grammar without complaining to your poor guide then bring them)
- 3 quick drying hiking shirts ( notice the words quick drying…no cotton as it does not dry and could potentially lead to you getting cold)
- 1 fleece ( in winter you may need to bring 2. Or even substitute with a doen jacket)
- 1 rain jacket ( ummm…to keep you dry from the rain)
- 1 rain pant ( is that right? didn’t want to mentions pants as that is plural)
- 1 buff ( great to protect you from the sun. Also serves as a killer faace cloth)
- 1 headlight with spare batteries
- Gloves ( winter months only)
- Gaitors (I will let you in on a little secret with regards to these suckers. I personaly have never worn them on a Drakensberg hike. They are designed to keep the rain from getting into your hiking boots. My rain pants are long enough to cover the tip of my boot. So rain cannot get in. The only time I will wear them is if there is heavy snow we have to walk through. What was that?? What about the small bits of stone that may get into your shoe? Shame, you will survive given the probability is 8.4% that it wiull happen. And please……there is no need to rock up at the pick upmpoint in Johannesburg sporting your shiny new gaitors.)
- Walking Poles. ( I reckon the way to go is to use just 1. Walking with 2 poles just looks funny and is awkward. Especially in the Drakensberg. For a lot of the hike, you may have an uphill slope on one side of you and a downhill slop on the other. So 2 poles are not going to work as you will be a tad unbalanced. One pole should be fine. They are especially useful for the downhills and a great aid on the uphills. That’s my 5 cents worth.)
- 65/75 litre backpack ( nothing smaller sunshine. Otherwise you will not be able to fit all your equipment)
- Sleeping bag ( in winter you will need a bag rated to zero. In summer you can get away with a 10 degree rated bag)
- Sleeping mat ( you can opt for either the blow up ones or the thin ‘yoga’ type.
- Waterproof bags ( you are going to want to waterproof all you stuff, especially your sleeping bag and clothing. If they get wet you are in for a spot of bother old chap. 2 ways of doing this? You can buy the waterproof bags from you local hiking store or you can use thick plastic bags. All dependent on your budget. The waterproof bags also make for great pillows)
- 2 x 1 litre waterbottles or camelback ( for water which we get from the streams on the hike)
- Snacks ( these are beneficial for during the hike. We stop every hour or so to fuel up. Examples of snacks include trail mix, nuts, biltong, energy bars, wine gums, packets of tuna, lobstor thermadoire and raw eggs.
- 46 pairs of panties
- 7 ping pong balls
- Flip flops or light trail type shoes ( to change into after a long days hiking)
- Beanie ( more for the winter months)
- Water purification tablets? Nope. We have never used them as the water is pure mountain water. We will have spare if you need.
- Dinner and breakfast on the mountain
- Hiking permits
- cooking and eating utensils
- Transport from JHB ( if you have selected that option of course)
- 27 Dry one liner jokes