blog image

Backpacking Tips for Beginners: What to Pack and How to Prep

Living in the province of KwaZulu-Natal we are blessed to have the Drakensberg and its many beautiful, winding hiking trails on our back doorstep. If you haven’t embarked at least a day-hike in the Drakensberg, you truly are missing out on some spectacular sights! If you’re new to backpacking or hiking but have always wanted to try it out – here are a few essential tips on what to pack and how to prepare for a day or overnight hike in the mountains. Additionally, if you are looking for private bus hire in Durban to get you and a bunch of friends up to the Drakensberg, CK Travel and Tour offers the best transport deals to suit your budget!

Surviving an over-night hike or backpacking adventure is all about preparation and packing smart. We would be lying if we didn’t say you need to correct gear to hike up a mountain, and this starts with…

1.   Shoes

Blisters are not your friend on a hike, especially on day-two when your feet are double sore, having to squeeze them into hiking boots can be complete agony. It’s important to ‘break new shoes in’ – once you have bought new hiking shoes, wear them a few times before your actual hike so they can mould to your feet. Additionally:

  • Buy shoes that have a little extra room in them for when your feet swell- because they will!
  • Pack thick socks for insulation to avoid blisters
  • Tie your shoes tight, the less movement and friction of your feet, the less likely you’ll develop blisters

2.  Clothing

Hiking in the summer months versus winter months is totally different – that’s a no-brainer! But what to pack in terms of clothing can be tricky. Hiking in the summer months in KZN can be sweltering and your main concern will be sunburn and heat stroke. The most important items to pack are light-weight clothes, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and long socks. Make sure to pack a raincoat as the mountains are subject to flash storms, especially in the summer! The winter time is equally important to be well prepared. Thermals, long-sleeve tops and pants, woollen socks, gloves, a beanie, a hat and a winter or snow jacket is essential as temperatures can reach well below zero in the evenings! The key to being protected and staying warm in winter is layering, so pack light-weight clothes which can be layered and re-worn.

3.  Shelter

It’s absolutely vital to keep the weight of your backpack to a minimum over your hike, otherwise, your back and shoulders will not survive the trip! If you are not brave enough to sleep in the open in one of the many caves throughout the Drakensberg, remember to pack the following:

  • A MSR tent – it’s very lightweight and has sturdy poles
  • A sleeping bag that will keep you warm – even in the summer months!
  • A light-weight yoga or sleeping mat
  • Top tip: make a pillow by stuffing clothes inside your sleeping bag cover

4.  Food

Some of the best food items to pack for an overnight or multi-day hike are foods that are high in fibre and energy and foods that are light-weight and can be rehydrated. Your meal times should look something like this:

  • Breakfast: oats made with warm water or powdered milk and dried fruit
  • Snack: Chocolat bar / energy bar / granola bar / fresh fruit
  • Lunch: Crackers, packet tuna, boiled eggs, biltong, dried fruit
  • Dinner: Packet pasta which can be made with long-life milk or warm water
  • After dinner delight: hot chocolate sachet

Remember to pack camping utensils, carry a decent knife and a small, foldable stove and gas canister which can be found at most outdoor or camping stores.

Take to the mountains for a backpacking adventure with CK Travel and Tour’s private bus hire services. As one of KZN’s top private bus hire companies, we offer affordable rates and reliable travel.

Social Share

Leave a comment