New to hiking in Western Australia? Make sure to include these top hiking essentials for a safe and comfortable hike in our beautiful state.
There is something magical about hiking, it feels as if you’re in a different world entirely. When I hike, everything becomes quiet and I’m one with nature. This is why I fell in love with it.
However, as a woman, I am aware that hiking outdoors can feel like an intimidating place (understandably so) for those un-informed and less-confident, and perhaps this is an influencing factor in why hiking is more popular with men, as seen in this one report. What I have learned over time is that the key to feeling safe and confident with hiking (especially if you are female) all comes down to preparation.
This blog post serves as a basic introduction to what top hiking essentials are needed for beginners, especially women who are curious to try hiking. My hope is that you find some useful information here that will help you feel empowered, excited, confident, and ready to venture out to your nearest (beginner-friendly) trail where you can witness the miraculous beauty that is in Western Australia.
Leave No Trace Principles
Before we get you all geared up and ready to head out, it’s important to know the Leave No Trace Principles to take care of nature and preserve the environment for generations to come. For example, it is crucial to pack in what you pack out. This means taking everything with you back home for appropriate disposal, including any food, such as banana peels and apple cores. Many novice hikers will leave these things behind because they are ‘natural, but the truth is they take a long time to decompose and will certainly attract animals (and closer to humans) which is not what we want.
Check out the Leave No Trace Principles below:
- Plan Ahead and Prepare.
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces.
- Dispose of Waste Properly.
- Leave What You Find.
- Minimise Campfire Impacts.
- Respect Wildlife.
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors.
You can read more information about Leave No Trace Australia here, where resources and training are made available. When hiking in Western Australia, you will likely come across signs reminding the public to appreciate the scenery, but leave nothing but their footsteps behind.
Do Your Research:
One of the key components of being outdoors is thoroughly researching the hike beforehand and being prepared for it. Many times when I’m hiking, people come up to me and ask if this is the right trail, or how long the hike is. These sorts of questions should not come up if a large information sign sits at the start of the trial.
Therefore, it is important to make sure you are well prepared before you step outside your comfort zone. Do your Google research – read online reviews of the trail and its conditions for the season, and why not join your local Hiking Groups on Facebook and see who has hiked it prior – they may even have photos to share with you.
Another great tip I can share with you (that my partner and I do) is to take a photo of the information sign at the start of any trail you embark on. Should your memory ever get hazy, refer back to the picture on your phone for quick answers.
To ensure you know where you’re going, having a GPS is a gamechanger. It is a worthwhile investment for emergencies, and it will allow you to let your loved ones know your whereabouts and inform them that you are safe.
Having a proper hiking backpack will improve your hiking experience significantly. When I first started hiking, I used to use a regular backpack that offered no back support, and when I finally made the switch, I was shocked by the difference.
Since hiking backpacks are designed to be lightweight, they help you carry all your essentials without being a burden on your body, which is a win-win.
What To Pack:
The key essentials will help ensure that you’re safe in case of emergencies, which is important as a beginner hiker. And the best part is, the items are lightweight so you don’t need to worry about them taking up too much space.
The essentials are a headlamp, sun protection (hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen), first aid kit, knife, fire (matches, lighter, and stove), GPS, extra food, extra water, and extra clothes. If it is an overnight hike – think about sleeping arrangements, like lightweight, easy to pack away swag or pop-up tents. A great question to ask yourself when packing is, “could I survive the night with the items I have with me?”. If not, add!
Did you know that Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world? Yep – we can thank the big hole hovering above in our Ozone layer for that. So it can get rather hot in Western Australia, where bushfire risk is a real threat every summer But “at least it’s a dry heat” is what we West Aussies say. Rule of thumb: never hike the hottest part of the day and always take plenty of water with you. Portable Water Bladders, otherwise known as hydration packs, are extremely essential for your hiking trip – no matter how short the trail is, your access to drinking water on the go is paramount.
As a pale, caucasian semi-freckled woman who burns easily, I cannot stress to you enough, please be sun-smart when hiking in Western Australia. For sunscreen, I personally use sunscreen from the Cancer Council Australia Shop. It is also recommended to wear wide-brimmed hats (bonus points if you have an Akubra hat!) and UV Protection Sunglasses.
What you wear will also help shield you from Western Australia’s harsh sun, as well as help you avoid nasty scratches from nearby plants and overly friendly bugs and insects.
A breathable long-sleeved shirt is wise for a high UV day in WA. At the bare minimum, a T-shirt will suffice in keeping your shoulders protected from the sun and from any risk of chaffing from your backpack. In Western Australia, light-weight and quick dry shorts are popular in summer and are great for easy hikes. When it comes to longer hikes – long pants offer more protection against the elements. Worried about overheating? The type of material your clothing is made from makes all the difference. Merino Wool, Moisture-wicking, ventilation panels, inner mesh, synthetics (nylon), UFD shirts are popular choices. Don’t forget to pack an emergency rain jacket if rain is on the horizon!
Hiking boots can make or break you. After all, you’re on your feet for the majority of the time. But the good thing is, if you buy a quality pair of hiking boots, they will last you for years. Although boots are hard to recommend because everyone’s feet are different, the main components to look for are: comfortable, lightweight, and waterproof.
Don’t like enclosed shoes? Or need something waterproof for those hikes that involve swimming across water? Then try Teva Sandals, a personal favourite of mine.
Other Hiking Accessories:
- Electronics – don’t forget your charging cables for your phone and electronic devices.
- Entertainment – Keep yourself motivated and inspired by listening to your favourite music and podcasts.
- Walking poles -these will help take the load off your legs and can reduce your energy expenditure.
- Swags & Tents – for an overnight hike, make sure to pack your sleeping headquarters. Don’t forget a hiking sleeping pad.
- Electrolytes & Healthy Snacks – depending on your temperature and the intensity of the hike, you may need the help of an electrolyte supplement to prevent hydration, especially if you are profusely sweating and losing liquids fast. Sports drinks, potassium-rich foods such as bananas and citrus fruits help, as well as eating foods made up of 90% water like cucumbers and watermelon. Throw in a packet of nuts for good measure and you’re prepared to go!
Know your Limits, Take it Easy
I hope this blog proved helpful in inspiring you to give hiking a try. With a range of short, beginner-friendly hikes to advanced, expert-level hikes on offer in Western Australia – you will be spoiled for choice in deciding where to go next along our expansive coastline. Once you know your trail and you have all your hiking essentials, the outdoors will become your friend! Get ready and have fun!