In order to survive that part of the hike, where your legs seem to be disconnected from the rest of your body and your shoulders are screaming for a massage, we scouts live by the simple rule of 10 must haves. With 10 must haves we eliminate the unnecessary gadgets and clothing that we can live without and leave our backpacks as light as possible. Throughout the years the list has gotten smaller and smaller and now it is as close to complete as it will get.
There is no use in even getting out there if you haven’t planned your source of water. Many national parks now have water stations where you can refill your bottle. But if you, like us, would rather hike where no one else has hiked before you, then you can simply boil up some lake or spring water to get rid of the bacteria and let it cool.
Tents are long forgotten, the only proper way of sleeping in style and with maximal comfort is in a hammock. Also, if the weather is good, there is no need for a tarp over your head and you will get the most wonderful morning view.
Hiking in Finland can often be a very cold or a very wet experience so wearing a warming, sweat absorbent base layer is extremely important. We suggest a base layer of wool for the colder periods and a lighter base layer of mainly polyester during the warmer days. Merino wool accessories can be worn basically all year round, because if its breathing, warming, stain-resistant and odour-resistant properties. Also, if you are one of those people who find wool particularly itchy, merino wool is a good alternative for you as it is softer and less irritating for the skin than other types of wool.
Your feet are your most valuable possession (okay, well maybe not a possession but body part) during a hike, you must take care of them by wearing proper hiking shoes. If your shoes are the wrong fit, or not properly worn in you are going to suffer - and the whole experience will be more painful than pleasant.
Again, if your feet are wet or cold you will be miserable - no matter how beautiful the nature is it cannot make up for the fact that you would give anything for a hot bath and warm toes. Through years of experience and numerous ice-cold toes, we are careful to always bring at least one extra pair of socks.
Hiking is a sweaty business, especially with a heavy backpack on your shoulders. To avoid getting too cold and subsequently ill it is important to have at least one warmer sweater that you can wear at night time or during breaks. Wool is the preferred material as it is very compact and light but at the same time extremely warming.
Okay, so dehydrated food might not be the most delicious meal you will eat in your life, but it will give you all the energy and nutrients you need without taking up half of your packing. Dehydrating vegetables and especially meat before heading to the woods is something that you can easily do yourself, it also makes it easier to portion out your food into ready meals that you simply mix with water and heat up when you are ready to eat. Most importantly your food will be about a hundred times lighter to carry!
If you plan on sleeping outside in the Finnish nature, which is an amazing experience, you will definitely need a warm quality sleeping bag. There are not many experiences worse than getting a bad night's sleep during a hike because you are too cold. Thus, getting a thick sleeping bag and a sleeping bag liner is recommended. With a sleeping bag liner (which functions much like sheets) you can use your sleeping bag as a blanket if it gets too hot, or just keep the zipper open throughout the night.
If you are anything like us and get moody with low blood sugar levels, then snacks are a must. Trekking all day in challenging conditions and with meals carefully planned out and rationed, snacks quickly become your best friend - it will elevate your mood and give you bursts of energy when you most need it. Our favourite is a trail mix made of dark chocolate, a variety of nuts and some dried fruits. Cliff bars or flapjacks are also a good alternative - just make sure not to leave the wrappers after you in the woods.
Hiking for several days is fun! But it is also tiring and you'll need
to take breaks - especially because it's too easy to stay up all night with hiking buddies. So bringing at least one set of playing cards with you on a hike is essential for a good time! It is not only cozy to sit around a fire with a hot cup of tea and play cards, it can also be a competitive and fun bonding experience - why not play a game over who gets to carry the trash-bag the following day, or over who gets to do the morning dishes?
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