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.
Packing clothings 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.
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 are a great wear to resist leech attacks specially during monsoon on western Ghats treks.
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):
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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Ankle support
Hiking boots have better ankle support while trail runner does not come with ankle support.
7. Hiking shoe’s Traction
Hiking boots have better traction than the trail runner.
8. Protection against small worms and leeches:
Hiking boots have better protection against worms and leeches than trail runners.
9. 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.
10. 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.
3. slippery trails (Need ankle support & better traction)
5. Cold (Need waterproof & thick material to prevent) etc.
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:
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?
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:
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?
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
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:
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.
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.