On any of our trips packing light is always advised and in the outdoor community the ability to pack light is often seen as a tell-tale sign of the veteran walker. It is unfortunate that most travellers end up packing too much - we’ve all been there, lugging our 20kg backpack around airports and hotels only to never to never use half of what you have. In the end it’s your enjoyment that’s at stake, pack too little and you go without, pack too much and you (or the Sherpa) have to carry it!
One little tip is to pack twice. I often lay out my items on the floor and then put them into my bag knowing full well that I’ll be unpacking some of the items again once I’ve zipped it up and felt the weight. However, the only tried and tested tip is to pack only what you really need. Here are a few suggestions.
Hot or Cold?
The dangerous thing about deserts is the heat, or rather people’s understanding of the heat. Of course we want to pack cool clothing that covers you up from all the sand and protects you from the sun. However, it’s the less obvious things that catch us out and the heat is frequently the last of people’s problems. It can get very cold in the desert at night and packing for desert walking is not just about long sleeved shirts and synthetic trousers.
I tend to pack two sets of clothes on any walking trip, one to get dirty and one to keep clean. For the ‘dirty’ outfit it’s important to pack layers so that you have the ability to strip down or warm up on the move. Naturally these want to be as lightweight as possible so you can carry what you need in your day pack. I’ll start out the walk in lightweight walking trousers and a long-sleeved shirt, but always carrying something warm in my daypack.
These days the lightweight fleece is a walker’s best friend and I’ve owned the same North Face Expedition Shirt (which is a fleece!) for about 10 years and it’s been with me everywhere. It’s warm, loose fitting, durable and fits easily into a small day sack. Despite the levels of abuse it’s suffered over the years it’s still the first thing I pack when I need a warm lightweight layer I can trust. If you’re staying out overnight you’ll want a down jacket and woolly hat – you may never use it, but you’ll certainly miss it if you do!
Trekking in a desert means even the chunky orthodox walking boot can be left at home in favour of a lighter more supple option. This is when I pick up my Rogue Boots – hand made in South Africa with the desert and savannah in mind, these are the most comfortable walking shoes I’ve ever owned. They do a suede desert boot, which is incredibly lightweight and easy to pack and I find wearing these without socks is fine in hot weather. You can even screw these up into a ball and pack at the bottom of your bag. For more strenuous or diverse treks their RB2 light trail boot replaces suede with leather and offers more protection.
Rocking the Kasbah
By Nathan Whittaker, Walking and Trekking Specialist
Call us on 01962 737565 to discuss desert treks - our trekking experts will be happy to advise you. See all of our desert trekking holidays here.