Along with the news that the beaches will be closed for a while yet, South Africans are also dealing with curfew and complete shutdown of social interaction due to the pandemic. Thankfully, the rainbow nation is resilient, and many people have turned to outdoor spaces to gain some much-needed balance and perspective. People across the country are visiting their local nature spots for outdoor picnics and active endeavours.
A quick drive past the Melville Koppies in Johannesburg or Newlands Forest in Cape Town shows that people are experiencing the best that nature has to offer. Monica Ebert from wool athleisure brand Core Merino offers up some advice for the amateur hikers and adventurers seeking freedom in the outdoors.
“The key to an enjoyable active outing is in the preparation,” says Ebert. “Heading onto the mountain or into a reserve in the summer heat without a couple of essential items is going to lead to fatigue and a not so successful early-ending to the adventure.”
Ebert lists the following items that you should consider for your outing:
- Avoid the hottest time of the day: Start your hike early in the morning when the sun is not at its strongest and the breeze is cool.
- Wear a hat and sunscreen: This goes without saying, and in the event that your adventure will stretch for the full day, take sunscreen along with you for regular reapplication.
- Hydrate! Make sure that each and every hiker has his or her own water supply, and plan many hydration stops along the way.
- If you’re walking in the late afternoon, pack a torch just in case you’re delayed in your return.
- If your adventure is more strenuous, take along a basic medical aid kit for the hike. Better to be safe than sorry, even if it is just to deal with a blister.
- Don’t forget your mask! While you’ll be enjoying the great outdoors, there are likely to be places where you’re required to pass someone on the path. Take a neck warmer for neck protection from the sun, and a quick face protector from passers-by.
- An extra layer: Ebert suggests packing an extra layer in your backpack in the event that the weather turns. “Opt for a light-weight wool item with sleeves to protect you from the cold. Wool keeps moisture off the skin and is quick drying in the event of rain. It will keep you cool in the heat and warm in the cold.”
- Appropriate shoes: Anyone that has attempted a walk in slipslops or slim line sneakers will tell you that there’s nothing more important than a good pair of walking shoes and socks. Don’t mess around when it comes to keeping your feet comfortable.
- Snacks: No hike is complete without coffee and a rusk, or just an energy bar or apple when you reach half-way. If you’re hiking with kids, take double the amount you’d normally pack to keep them energized and motivated to keep going.
Ebert says that assigning a backpack permanently to your hiking ‘equipment’ makes it far easier to be spontaneous about your outdoor adventures. “Keep your bag packed and ready at the door so when the moment presents itself, you’re ready to enjoy the beautiful outdoors.”