Expedition Planning > Checklist
Important: this page assumes that the expedition will not require equipment/planning for technical climbing, glacier walking, extreme altitude or other special activities.
Please consider our thoughts about responsible travel.
- Weather/suitability: what is the best time to do this walk? Is this walk appropriate to your travel window/timing?
- Do you have long enough to do this walk, with sufficient flexibility for contingencies?
Nature of walk: how will you do it?
- How tough is it going to be? What will the altitude be? What will the weather be like (how variable and extreme)?
- Will you cope, and enjoy it? Will all members of your group cope and enjoy it?
- Will you camp, or will you stay in huts or other accommodation?
- Will you do it independently, or is it best to use a guide/expedition organiser?
- Identify and assess all possible health issues and risks
- Injections/medication that should be had/got for possible risks (e.g. malaria)
- Altitude: how high will the walk be, will you manage the altitude, should you take medication?
Note: your guidebook should have appropriate information, but check the up-to-date position – governmental/health services websites can help
Risks, dangers, potential problems
- Identify and assess all other possible risks, dangers and problems: should you make the expedition, how can you minimise/prepare for the risks?
Note: see the note under “Health”, above
- Obtain visas/permits, allowing sufficient time
- Check your passport has sufficient unexpired validity
- Make sure you have adequate travel insurance, which should cover, for your whole trip: medical and repatriation costs and all activities you will undertake. Beware exclusions for dangerous activities and walking above a fixed altitude - you may need to take out specialist insurance.
- Obtain and take a European Health Insurance Card where relevant
- Plan and arrange where appropriate
- Assess how you can get local currency (e.g. will it be possible to use plastic or must you take currency or travellers’ cheques), and whether it will be sensible to carry some US$ or the like for emergencies
- If you plan to use them, identify your preferred firm and book well ahead if there is any risk of them booking out
- Assess what your needs are, book ahead where appropriate
- Tents, sleeping bags, waterproofs, cookers, etc: make sure in good/suitable condition
- Check your sleeping bag is suitable: warm enough? Not over-warm and thus unnecessarily heavy/bulky?
Health and risks
- Get immunisations done in time
- Make sure you have enough information about how to recognise and deal with health issues (eg altitude) and to use your medical equipment
- Make sure you are aware of all possible risks and how best to deal with them
- Make sure your medication is legal where you are going
Get everything you need
- Including medication, medical kit, food, equipment
- Leave with family/friends: passport copy, itinerary (with contact info); insurance documents copy (including 24-hr emergency number)
- Assess what you will be able to fit/carry and tailor your packing accordingly – the lighter your pack the better if you are carrying it (you can be more relaxed if you will have ponies/yak, etc to carry them).
- If you will be going on an organised expedition check carefully what will/will not be supplied, and what the requirements are for the type of baggage to be used.
- Passports, visas, permits (with photocopies?), another form of ID (with photo if possible), vouchers
- Travel Insurance papers, including 24-hr emergency number
- Certificate of vaccination?
- Driving licenses (with written counterparts?)
- Money (including emergency stash/back-up fund), credit/cash cards (check expiry dates)
- Notebook + pens?
- Guidebook(s), phrase book
- Background reading?
- Enough of whatever clothing is appropriate for the non-trekking part of your journey.
- A suitable bag to store them in when walking.
- Adapter for phone/battery chargers
- Good boots (suitable for the conditions on your hike), spare laces
- Hats (sun hat, warm hat), balaclava?
- Sun glasses
- Water/windproofs (top and trousers)
- Enough layers of clothing appropriate for possible weather (fleece(s), long-sleeved shirts, under-shirts, hot day shirts, thermals) – wicking anti-condensation where appropriate, with enough spares.
- Trousers (+ thermals? + belt?) (and shorts, or trousers/shorts combined?)
- Enough good socks (with liners?) and underwear
- Gloves? If very cold, mittens better. Handwarmers (ski-type) made a huge difference in Kilimanjaro summit night
- Scarf /shawl (especially if very cold, dusty or windy)?
- Mosquito headnet?
- All normal personal items, such as toothbrush/paste, deodorants, medications, visual items (and cases)
- Specific walking equipment such as knee-braces
- Spare visual and other key items
- Alarm clock
- Camera (or camcorder?), batteries (charger?), film/tapes (?) (in watertight bag or case)
- Insect repellent
- Sun screen/lip block (lip balm)
- Camping soap/shampoo
- Toilet paper
- Camping towel
- Tissues/wet wipes - biodegradable?
Pack and contents
- Ensure your pack is sufficient for the expedition (needs a waterproof cover?) and comfortable. Contents should be in plastic bags (take spares).
- If your kit is being carried, take a suitably strong yet flexible bag.
- Hip pack?
- Day pack? (Note: If using a day pack, ensure you carry enough water, food, clothing and other relevant equipment for each day.)
- Hiking pole(s)/stick?
- Tent or bivvy bag, with poles, pegs, tie-downs, bag
- Sleeping bag (assess the warmth you will need) with silk liner, in waterproof bag
- Sleeping mat – don’t stint to the extent practical
- Pillow (or use clothes?)
- Torch (flashlight), spare batteries and bulb (head torch recommended)
- Swiss army knife or similar tool (with scissors/knife/can opener/tweezers)
- Waterproof/ziplock bags (mixed sizes), to differentiate and protect packed items, rubber bands
- Sleeping/camp clothes (assess how cold the nights will be)
- Light shoes?
- Eye shades/ear plugs (especially if using shared huts or if it is light very early)
- Down coat? (if cold at night)
- Urine bottle to avoid night-time disruption, esp if raining or v cold outside. She-wee for women, old water bottle fine for men. Huge quality of life enhancer. Wish we’d thought of it earlier…
- metal water bottle to use as hot water bottle in bag if really cold - small luxury
- Repair kit, contents depending on the nature of the kit: minimum – sewing kit. Can also include tent repair kit, safety pins, duct tape, cord
- Clothes line and pegs?
- Trowel/petrol gel to bury/burn toilet paper?
- Water bottles/containers (make sure you carry enough water for your needs)
- Water purifying tablets/filters (check: what will be the source of your water, what steps will be needed to make it drinkable)
- Knife, fork, spoon (or combo)
- Cooking implements (spoon, knife)
- Cooking pots (nest)
- Cooker (with spares), enough fuel
- Rubbish bags
- Matches/lighter (in bags)
- Fire lighters?
- Collapsible water basin?
- Dish wash scrub/cleaning cloth
- Bear bag/vault?
- Food! (dehydrated meals esp.) – assess what opportunities there will be to replenish and pack accordingly. Make sure you have a sufficient variety and quantity of food, including appropriate cold foods for lunch and snacks
- Tea/coffee/powdered milk/sugar?
- Salt and pepper?
- Energy bars/emergency rations?
Medical kit/first aid
Important: assess your needs depending on where you are going, the risks involved, the remoteness of the trek and the quality of likely medical support. Take medical advice where appropriate – you may not need all of the following, or you may need further medical supplies.
- Plasters (band-aids) in varied sizes; “second skin” for blisters
- Bandages/sterile dressing pads
- Anti-bacterial handwash
- Antiseptic cream
- Antiseptic wipes
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Skin anti-fungal cream
- Sting relief cream
- Antihistamine/other allergy treatments
- Diarrhoea medicine
- Rehydration powders
- Antibiotics (including for eye complaints)?
- Syringes (sterile)?
- Butterfly wound closures?
- Enough books/reading material (co-ordinate, so you can share and carry less)
- iPhone, iPod, charger?
- Playing cards/games (mini versions)?
- Fishing equipment?
- Compass (with thermometer?)
- Mobile phone, charger?
- Spare batteries, charger pack, solar powered charger?
- Binoculars? (Lightweight and reasonable value relevant to most people - see examples here.)
- Pepper spray (or equivalent) – where legal and there is a risk of bears or the like?
- envelopes for tips - huge help if trekking with big support team
A Day Of Tasty Meals When Hiking
By Walkopedia friend Jennifer Dawson
When walking on long distance routes, many people rely on convenient but bland and tasteless pre-prepared food to keep them fueled. However, with a just a small amount of preparation and planning you can eat simple, flavoursome and nutritious meals while walking. Here are some examples of tasty meals perfect for long distance walking which only use one pan, are light and easy to carry and do not take long to cook.
Breakfast Of Champions
Breakfast on the trail does not have to be boring. Porridge is a great breakfast option which hits the spot and provides large amounts of slow-release energy, perfect for a long day’s walking. Before setting off, combine 40g of oats, 30g of milk powder, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of pecans and 2 teaspoons of dried fruit of your choice. When it is time to prepare your breakfast, add 250ml of water and heat gently until it is the consistency you prefer. Try the recipe out beforehand and adapt it to meet your own requirements.
Lunch on the go needs to be easy to prepare, quick to eat and provide you with plenty of energy to get you through the afternoon. Tortilla wraps make a great lunch food when walking as they are easy to pack, have a long shelf life and contain carbohydrates which give you energy. There are many interesting fillings you can add to a wrap including tomato puree, pepperoni and cheese, tuna, pesto (from a tube) and cheese or pre-mashed avocado and lime with sliced red peppers and cheese.
After a long day in the great outdoors, it is time for some comfort food to replenish the energy you have used throughout the day. Pizza is a popular meal which can easily be made in a frying pan. Before you leave measure out 225g of self raising flour. When you are ready to eat, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 6 tablespoons of warm water and mix together. Add some olive oil to a frying pan and then press the dough into the pan. Top with tomato puree, cheese and any other toppings you fancy and then heat gently until cooked.
While walking along long distance trails, there is no need to sacrifice the quality of your food and resort to tasteless, dehydrated food. Simply by planning ahead and measuring out ingredients it is possible to eat well whilst on the trail.
Walkopedia friend Ben Weaver has thoughts re eating well but efficiently on trail (thanks, Ben!)...
The obsession with what one can eat on the trail has fueled the "bag culture". Bags are ubiquitous in the hiking world.
You carry what you need in a bag, for improved comfort. You crap in a bag, so as to leave no trace. You eat food from a bag, whether freeze-dried or wet. And, if you die, you get sent home in a bag.
Admittedly, no-one has invented a one-bag-fits-all but that is coming.
So, can I suggest that hikers reclaim their taste buds and take as much pleasure in their meal preparation as they do with their walking.
My kitchen is simple: a mug, a kettle ( Trangia, MSR or GSI) and a small frying pan (or titanium plate). All work on gas, petrol and meths stoves or open fires.
In my outer pockets I carry water. Not in a bladder but in unbreakable bottles. I also carry a filter ( eg SurvFilter).
In the centre of my pack ( above my sleeping system and below my shelter) , I carry my kitchen and the following items in the repurposed containers mentioned by Serena Mackesy:
200 ml cooking oil
Spices, cumin and smoked paprika
Gravy granules ( eg Bisto)
Hot sauce ( eg Marie Sharp's)
Salt and pepper
Head of garlic
Self raising flour
Curry powder consisting of equal portions of garam masala, coriander, chilli, ginger, turmeric and cardomom
I buy foods that are nutritious, with a long shelf life and provide caloric value. With the above kitchen kit and condiments, my evening meals become feasts for all the senses.
I will happily share some recipes but I do not think that this is a knitting circle or Women's Institute forum.
Following Napoleon's adage...