The Hiking (Non)Necessities

 With summer now at our doorstep, it’s time to dust off the old boots, pick up the backpack and take to the mountains! 

 Picture the scene: the sun is rising, and you are sitting on the edge of a cliff dipping a rusk into the perfect cup of coffee. As you sit, soaking up the warmth from the first drops of sunlight, you feel well-rested and ready for the day. 
 This is the reason a lot of us hike and something we all long to have on our adventures. Now, another experience that may be familiar to a lot of hikers out there: 

It’s 5am and you are sitting outside your tent waiting for the sun to rise. There is a kink in your neck from an ill-placed stone under your mattress, your head is feeling heavy after only sleeping for 3 hours (because someone told you that you didn’t need a pillow) and it's going to be a while before you feel fully human again. 

The second scenario is definitely a manageable situation, but by no means is it enjoyable. There is a big trend in the outdoor world to go fast and light, to take only what you need and cut down on all frills. While there is a place for this, what I would like to talk about is the hiking nice-to-haves. These are the things that you wish you had brought when you see somebody else with them; the stuff that you don’t really need to survive the hike, but will take your experience to the next level...

First on the list of comforts is a nice thick mattress or sleeping pad for overnight h​ikes – 
I personally prefer the inflatable variety. Sure, it may weigh a little more than the 
ultra-light inflate-in-one breath options, and it may be slightly pricier than the standard foam mat, but that feeling of waking up in the morning with no back pain and a spring in your step is hard to put a price on.  
On the topic of overnight hikes, you've got to get yourself a lightweight, inflatable/compressible hiking pillow. Bundled-up jackets and bags can offer a poor substitute in a pinch, but a proper pillow is the way to go if you want some decent shut-eye.

There's nothing better than a perfect cuppa with a great view, and Jetboil's range of stoves and accessories has got all of your beverage needs covered. Tea and hot chocolate drinkers can enjoy their lightning-fast boiling times while coffee enthusiasts will love their Silicone Press, which fits right into any Jetboil cooking system (bring along some fresh beans and a handheld grinder for the full barista experience!).


There are tons of great hiking food options on the market, including freeze-dried meals and high-calorie trail snacks, but often overlooked is pudding! Having that little sweet treat can perk up your whole day and make you feel that much more at home in the mountains, whether you bring along pancake mix for a tasty breakfast, pack some biccies for after lunch, or go the whole hog with some tinned fruit and Ultramel for dessert. 

Even on shorter hikes, having a well-organised pack is essential – we all know how frustrating it is to be rummaging through your pack every time you need something. I recommend organising the content into various dry bags so that you can easily sort and access clothes, food, gear, and whatever else you might need, with ease. 

No hiker should ever set out without some paracord or accessory cord. Ultra-light and super strong, this can be used to create a washing line, repair gear, rig a hammock, and so much more (just don’t use it for anything it’s not rated for). 

Heading out into mother nature inevitably includes getting a bit dirty and perhaps a little stinky, but Sea to Summit's convenient and eco-friendly soaps and shampoos can help you stay clean and fresh on your travels. 


We’ve got to mention the humble sit pad – a must-have for overnight and day hikes! You can buy fancy versions of these, but you can also make one yourself by cutting a square out of an old foam mat. This simple lil seat will make a big difference in comfort with that little bit of cushioning and insulation.  


At the end of the day, it's all about what kind of adventure you enjoy. The above items may seem silly to those who favour speed and efficiency, but you might find that adding the extra weight, slowing down and allowing yourself to enjoy those creature comforts makes your time in the mountains that much more special.  


That’s all for now, folks – visit us at CityROCK or shop right here on Mountain Mail Order pop to get kitted out, and stay safe out there! 


By Murray Church

Certified Mountain guide & JHB Gear Shop Manager