Trekking Guide for South Indian Treks: Clothing, Boots,Tent etc. Guide

Different kinds of trekking terrains need different kinds of clothings depending upon the weather, humidity, temperature, precipitation, trekking duration etc. Trekking in Alps is surely going to be different than Trekking in Himalayas and Niligiris. Most of the western ghats treks of South India do not last more than 2 days unless exclusively planned. Chosing clothing style for these treks still, however, need attention and details.

What Kind of clothes shall I wear on south India treks?

The chances of encountering wild animals on safari or on treks in reserve forests cannot be neglected so, clothes need to be sober (not flashy or very bright in colour). Sober clothing (brown, dark green) provide camouflage with the surrounding.

Choice of wears when going for trekking in the monsoon

Some of the adventurers enjoy trekking in the monsoon. Never to be forgotten, during monsoon, it rains cats and dogs all throughout the days and nights. Thus, If you plan to take normal cotton clothings, you should rethink. Better go for dry-fits, the clothings which are light in weight and quick to dry.

So that when you pitch tent and even if it raining harsh outside on the hills, your clothings (upper and lower) does not hold the moisture and is easy to dry. You should also think of leeches throughout the forest. Clothing is not alone. Take a quick look at the leeches, infections, prevention and cure.

Western Ghats in monsoon

Packing clothing when going for trekking post monsoon/ summer:

Western Ghat hills literally burn during the day-time even in the months of December until the monsoon arrives in late March or Early April. Temperature might soar around 34-35 degree celsius during the day time and cotton clothes should be your savior. But try to be in full sleeve shirt.Packing style western ghats, south India treks

How to pack the clothings for south India treks?

I always prefer packing the extra pair of clothings inside a bin bag. They are bigger in size, waterproof and very light. Since most of the treks require only one night stay on the peak, unless exclusively planned, One extra pair of clothing should be sufficient.

What other kinds of wear should you pack on south India treks?

A big Bandana and cap/ hat:

Apart from extra pair of clothings, extra under garments, A big bandana type sometimes comes handy as hanky or sit-towel.

Extra pair of socks:

I always prefer to keep my feet dry and warm. So extra pair of socks should be surely taken

Leech socks:

Leech socks are a great wear to resist leech attacks specially during monsoon on western Ghats treks.

Towel/ sheet:

I prefer light weight towel which can be used at multiple places as sitting sheet, while taking bath, to cover the head with wet towel under the sun etc.

The choice of Under garments on treks:

People usually ignore this part on the trek. I would not recommend anyone for the frenchie type under garments. Frenchie cut undergarments on trek leave a scar in lower body areas after heavy sweating. They also need regular adjustments from time to time. Elastic at the peripherals makes the sweating smelly and also is the reason for developing scars around thigh and butts.

The longer the sweating does not dry, the longer it would smell. I prefer Jockey trunk sports underwear which is dry fit. It dries up quickly; has nice ventilation because of small pores in the undergarment; and also, does not throw much smell in our nose.

Trekking Pants (dry fit convertibles):Quechua Convertible pants

Convertible pants which can becomes half pant as well as full pant during treks are the most appropriate pants on the south India treks. On situations like crossing streams, swimming, roaming around after pitching tents or sitting comfortably around camp fire, convertible pants turned into shorts comes very easy and helping. Also, look out for the zips and pockets. If those are water proof, thats an add on.

Trekking Shoes Guide

Buying Trekking shoes for women or men always is a confused business because of the variety of the factors like price, durability, Waterproof trekking shoes, grip, ankle support, material, weight etc. are associated with the trekking boots. So in these situations, how to decide for which trekking boots you should go for. So, before introducing some trekking shoes, I decided to talk about the factors to look for before buying a trekking shoe.

Weather/ climate (Rainy/ humid/ warm/ cold) & trekking shoes

Trekking Boots, not trekking shoes, are mostly suitable for a cold/ rainy weather (Himalayan Treks). A waterproof trekking boot provides protection against cold and rain and keeps our feet warm. Also, it provides better grip for trekking.
While the trail runner or a normal shoe is better for humid/ warm climate (South India treks) because it allows better breathability. Also since dried up trails does not need so better grip.

Waterproof Trekking shoes

In rainy or in snowy weather (Himalayan treks), the trekking boots is preferred because it keeps our feet warm. Hiking boots also provide waterproofness from the outside elements. On the other hand, a trail runner need not be waterproof. Sometimes, water does slip in through the peripherals. Since in warm/ humid environment (Treks in South India), chances of water sit-in are lesser along with the frequent change of socks, trail runners are better.Hiking boots

Weight you intend to carry while on Treks

If you are planning to go for short treks around Bangalore or Chennai or in the Western Ghats, say 1-2 days, You would be carrying much lesser weight when compared to Chadar trek or Himalayan treks. Trail runner are perfect for lesser weight as they do not affect our heals or heap and thus, need no support from the shoes.

On the other hand, if you are planning to go for longer treks like Himalayan Treks where you have to carry heavier weights for longer days, I would advise you for the real trekking boots.

Terrain of the Treks

If the terrain is even, terrain runners are better. However, the Western Ghats terrains in South India are sometimes not even mostly after 3000-4000 feet. While ascending, the rocks are little sleepery and sometimes, you can find pebbeles on the trek too. With trail runner, pebbles can go inside the shoe and cause uneasiness.

Also, while descending, Ankle support is needed in Himalayan as well as South India treks because the steps are uneven. Sometimes you have to step over bigger rocks and sometimes, you have to walk on plain grasslands. If it rains a little, the trail becomes slippery and ankle support is a must then.


Duration of the trek/hike

As mentioned before, for a shorter duration trek like the Western Ghats treks of 1-2 days, Trail runners are better but for longer durations treks like Himalayan treks, trekking boots are a must.

Ankle support

Hiking boots have better ankle support while trail runner does not come with ankle support.

Hiking shoe’s Traction

Hiking boots have better traction than the trail runner.

Protection against small worms and leeches

Hiking boots have better protection against worms and leeches than trail runners.

Weight of the shoe

Since Hiking boots are more durable thus they need better materials too. With ankle support added, hiking boots essentially weight lot more than lightweight trail runner or normal sports shoes.

Durability of the Trekking shoes

Hiking boots are far more durable than Trail runners and sports shoes. So if you are serious about hiking go for Hiking boots

Comparison of different trekking shoes

During monsoon Treks

During monsoon, you are surely going to encounter these inevitable things on a south India trek.

1. leeches
2. Mud
3. slippery trails (Need ankle support & better traction)
4. Rain
5. Cold (Need waterproof & thick material to prevent) etc.

Trail shoes

Trail runners during monsoon treks in western Ghats:

Trail runners are not going to work at all against any of these factors during monsoon treks. A trail runner would rather expose your legs more to leeches, rain, and mud. Since trail runner does not have better traction than hiking boots, it would also become harder for a hiker to hold grips on wet rocks or trails. Since water could easily sip in through the helms peripherals of the trail runners, the feet would also get wet.

Hiking Boots during monsoon treks in the Western Ghats:

On the other hand, a hiking boot which is waterproof would provide you better protection from the leeches, better mud grip and protection, Better traction on slippery trails and will also help to keep the feet warm; fits better with the leech socks or Goretex socks.

Better choice for monsoon treks in the Western Ghats: Hiking boots

Post monsoon treks:

Trekking factors to look out for post monsoon treks in western Ghats:
1. Weather
2. Trails
3. Sweating

In post monsoon treks, the sun would be shining warmer; you would sweat more; socks would get wet quickly because of the sweat and trails would be dried up.

Trail runners post monsoon treks in western Ghats:

Trail runners would a perfect choice for post monsoon treks since they will ease up the feet soaking; easy dry; easy to remove socks

Hiking boots post monsoon treks in western Ghats:

Would allow low breathability than trail runner so, not a good choice when the weather would be warm.
Since trails would be dried up and rocks would also not be slippery, a better traction is not much needed then. So, hiking boots is not necessarily needed.

Trekking Tent Guide

Weight of the tent

If you are really serious about camping at the peak and spending the night inside the tent, you should consider the weight of the tent before making a purchasing or figuring out a choice for tent on south India treks. Well, Most of the people might blindfoldedly follow the branded outdoor products like northface, decathlon, wildcraft etc. but the big question still lies is: Is spending so much for buying a branded tent a worth?Camping western Ghats tents south India trek (4)

Just in search of a better solution to the question above, I started doing an exhaustive internet research for finding a cheaper solution. I searched a lot over amazon and ebay for good quality tent with cheaper price. I was successful.

There are some tents (though Chinese) which are really lightweight and can easily sustain western Ghats terrain and weather. But here comes the catch. I bought a tent from ebay for 1900 rupees. it weighed around 1.9 kg for 2 persons. Then I compared the same tent with famous branded sports/ outdoor companies. The same would cost around 2500 with tent weight of 2.5 kg approx for two persons.
Ideal weight: around 1 kg/ person

Price of the tent

Most of us go for outdoors for recreational purpose, we are not regulars. Moreover, a few very of us really know how to take care of the tents and we also not remain serious after we buy even a good product. Reason: Our busy life and lack of knowledge. 

In these circumstances, I would recommend people to go for the tents which are cheaper yet they just serve your purpose. And, if I get what I want working at lesser price, I find it no wrong in going for that unless I do not have very long term goal. 
Ideal Price for western Ghats trek: Around 700/ person

Ease of tent setup and Tent setup time on trek

Camping western Ghats tents south India trek (1)

If you have not had some hands on experience setting up tents while on camping, believe me you are gonna find it hard to figure out what poles and pegs belong to which parts of the tent. While the chinese tents that I have mentioned above, believe me had just two poles/ rods to be pushed inside and its done.

With new tents pouring into the market, people might find it attractive to buy but the real pain comes into the picture when people really do not how to set up a tent when they first time open the cover. Thus, I see the ease of tent setup ans setup time as important factors in making a decision before buying a tent.
Ideal tent setup time: 2-4 mins

Do we really need a flyer or rain cover for the tent?

Camping western Ghats tents south India trek (3)

I have seen some people putting extra emphasis on rain cover or flyers during treks in south India. Well their concerns might be really needed when its a complete monsoon trek and chances that its going to rain at the night. But do we really need flyers when the weather is gonna be clear at the night? WHy lift the little extra weight?

In Eastern Ghats, it rains lesser and some of the treks are really beautiful like Gandikota camping, nagalapuram waterfalls trek. In the night the humidity was so much that everyone removed the flyers/ rain covers of their tent completely and someone like me, used the make-shift tents to spend the night peacefully.
Ideal need: Yes when it might rain

SpaceCamping western Ghats tents south India trek (2)

While buying a tent one should necessarily look out for the space a tent has to offer. I also lookout for the height of the tent too. Well that comes very helpful for changing clother for women. The bigger and lighter, the better.
Ideal requirement: 1 sqm/ person

Look out for vents and ground sheet

Camping western Ghats tents south India trek (6)

I would say these two things to be seen in a tent are the most important. First, the vents allow the circulation of the fresh air inside the tent which brings in the fresh air and pushes out the smelly one. Next comes the groundsheet. A better ground sheet with appropriate thickness and waterproof property does not only provide you sheath from the ground but also, keeps the bottom dry even under the heavy rain.
Ideal thickness: 120 gsm

Or Just a makeover tent would do on Western Ghats Treks with a tarp:

Over the times, I realized that Tarpaulin could just be a better and cheaper replacement for tents over the treks provided some conditions fall in our favors. Like the day and night should be free of clouds; It should not be such windy and most importantly, you find some supports for your make-over tents. With going on more and more treks, I discovered more uses of tarpaulin. For example:

  • When it rains a lot and there are not much spaces left in tents then a big tarp can be used to cover all the backpacks on a trek.
  • Once on a new year treks, our whole group of hikers did not carry a single tent. Instead, we carried 4-5 large tarps for a large group. It started raining in the morning and we put one tarp underneath us and another was used to cover ourselves and we were saved from the rain falls.
  • The night be a clear night but humidity in the forests might be higher. That makes it hard to survive inside the packed tent even without flyers. While with tarp one can make a good tent and another beaneath and sleep comfortably.

Camping western Ghats tents south India trek (5)

There can be such most better uses of tarps this way. The advantage is they weigh lesser, are easy to carry once tied to the backpack.

Following are the trekking tips for hiking in the monsoon (rainy season) and pre & post monsoon (summer & winter) in the Western Ghats in the South India.

Trekking tips for hiking in the monsoon in the Western Ghats:

  • Average temperature ranges from 21-27 degree Celsius in Rainy season.
  • The rainy season lasts for around four months from June to September.
  •  Average sunshine hours are from 4-5 hours per day during rainy season. but be reminded that sometimes, over the hills, the sun doesn’t come out even for days.
  • Every hill wears a layer of lush green.
  • But winds will also be high at the grass lands and peaks.
  • Western Ghats are one of the highest among receiving the rainfall during monsoon in rainy season in South India.
  • Western Ghats or most of the south India receive rainfall from winds carrying moisture from Arabian Sea rising along the slopes of the hills of the western Ghats hills and forming clouds During monsoon, shoes need a better grip while trekking because of the wet and slippery trails.
  • Small waterfalls or streams receive nice amount of water and finding drinking water on trek is easier.
  • But the main concerns are the leeches. Know more about prevention and cure from leeches on western Ghats treks.

Monsoon clouds, western ghats on Sakleshpur railway trek

  • On treks, one should always carry a raincoat. Poncho should be preferred as it can also cover the backpack.
  • Avoid carrying Umbrellas at thousands of feet, wind is very high and an umbrella cannot stand the wind even for a few minutes.
  • Carry a pair of dry and extra clothes in garbage bag to keep that waterproof.
  • Forget not to carry extra pair of undergarments and socks. These two items are always mandatory
  • Make sure the tent is waterproof and its base can stand hundreds of liters of under-flowing currents of water.
  • Possible, if trekking in a group, carry a tarpaulin also called as tarp. A tarp of 120 GSM weighs around 2.5 kg 18 feet by 12 feet in size.
  • A tarp comes handy when the rain suddenly starts. around 15-20 people can stand under it and it can also be used to cover the backpack on night camping.
  • During torrential rain, fog is high and it’s also gets tougher to perceive the trail. So one needs to be careful.
    Also use waterproof shoes and trousers along with taking care for electronic devices, watch and torch.

Trekking tips for hiking in the summer in the Western Ghats:

  • Average temperature ranges from 25-34 degree Celsius in summer.
  • Summer lasts from February to May and is succeeded by the rainy season.
  • Average Sunshine hours are around 8 hours per day. That concludes to you cannot avoid sun on the trek unless that’s a night trek.
  • There will be no greenery in the summer. Hills turn yellowish brown because grasses die out.
  • Waterfalls carry meager amount of water except the bigger waterfalls with perennial source of water.
  • Streams, which are usual source of water on the treks, almost dry up. Irony is you will need to carry more water with you when all the water sources on trek almost dry up.
  • After crossing the dense forests, one treks on the open grasslands with very less number of trees. These grasslands usually starts at around 3500 feet/ 4-5 kilometres of trek/ 2-3 hours of trekking through dense forests.
Western Ghats in Summer

Western Ghats in Summer

  • As you ascend up to the open grasslands, sun would start shining directly over the head because by the time you cross the initial stretches of forests, the sun would have come in the sky.
  • Since most of the treks involve trekking through patches of dense forests at the beginning of trek in Western Ghats, humidity will be very high. You will sweat a lot.
  • Because of over sweating and constant walking under the sun, a person who is not healthy enough might get headache or sun strokes. I have personally experienced this once.
  • There will no chances of rainfall. However, nights would be cold at the peak if you plan to pitch tent.
  • Towards June, it starts to rain in the Western Ghats. So expect some rain during last phase of summer treks.
  • Do not forget to cover your head while trekking under the sun. That avoids sun strokes. You can use bandana or a hat for the same.
  • Also cover your body with full sleeve cotton shirts light in color. They help reflecting the sun rays and protects against tanning and also keeps the body temperature low.

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2 Replies to “Trekking Guide for South Indian Treks: Clothing, Boots,Tent etc. Guide”

  1. sanjiv

    Nice info. especially the leech socks about which i was unaware. Can you write in a more detailed way to make the topic complete.


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