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MY LIFE OF TRAILS
The type of personal gear you carry will largely depend on the type of trip you intend to plan for and whether you will have support along the way.
If travelling without a support crew or the help from others, then weight will limit what you can & should take with you.
1. Water Containers:
Water is a non-negotiable and will contribute to a significant part of the personal equipment/supply load your horse will carry. Research on water availability along any trail is paramount. As a rule, a minimum of 4 litres should be carried per day for personal use but water availability along the route will be an influencing factor on what you carry and how you manage your water supply.
Bladders are light and a practical method of carrying your personal supply of water. All reputable outdoors stores will stock multiple products, do your research to cover your specific requirements.
Water for your horse is another matter. From our experience this will need to be sourced from whatever is available along the way. A collapsible bucket will enable you to access those hard to get places and taps where available.
During route planning you will have factored in places to purchase a hot meal for when you pass through a town, these will be a welcomed treat. Although nothing beats fresh food, freeze dried food is the next best thing however water is required to re hydrate. It is light to carry, will provide all the required nutrition and energy for the long trip ahead, with many brands and a broad menu to choose from.
The pack it comes in is often used as the bowl so can if you are of mind to do so, minimise carrying extra equipment. Waste must be disposed of appropriately, general rule, what you carrying in carry out.
Be selective on what you plan on eating, keeping in mind that on the trail certain foods may impact you later on. Remember, a toilet is not always available in an emergency......
3. Cooking Gear:
There are many products on the market, but whatever you decide on must be light weight, compact & practical in design. Fire restrictions will impact any reliance on a camp fire, wind is often an annoyance and fuel source availability may be a problem so ensure you cover these areas when deciding on what suits you best.
'My Life of Trails' use:
the Soto WindMaster Hiking stove which is great in windy conditions. A gas canister usually lasts around 7 days but depends on the individuals efficiency when using
'GSI Outdoors cook set'; comes with a Pot, lid, 2 x container/cups with lids
light weight spoon, fork & knife set
This gear is both practical and compact for the purpose of our trail adventures.
4. Wet Weather Gear:
This is a critical piece of equipment. If you become wet you will increase the risk of becoming unwell.
There are many light weight options available. Breath-ability and warmth are important, however many products limit dexterity which will cause you problems when you mount and dismount from your horse.
Using high quality clothing to maintain warmth and manage moisture is recommended whilst using a light weight high quality moisture shield on the outside. This will maintain breath-ability, warmth and dexterity.
If an oilskin long coat is preferred keep in mind that it is heavy and does not have the breath-ability of modern wet weather gear. From experience the water proofing process can be an arduous process, however this type of coat does offer excellent wind protection and mobility on a horse.
Prepare for both warm & cool weather. From previous experiences, without support crew, at least 3 sets of under clothes, 2 sets of other clothes are sufficient between clothes washing. Points to consider:
A good layering system (base layer, mid layer and outer layer - depending on your environment) enables you to adjust your comfort levels easily with the changing weather
Consider the material these items are made from, do you prefer a wool or synthetic.
Merino wool is a preference for the base as it pulls sweat away (wicks) and its ability to manage odour means you can wear it over multiple days.
Synthetic clothes have certainly improved over the years for odour control but dry much quicker than the merino. It can be beneficial to take a mixture of the two.
Type of riding pants should be carefully considered, jodhpurs & tights are popular due to their comfortable fit and non abrasive feel over distance with the added bonus of being lighter weight than denim style.
6. Boot Wear:
Over long distances a good horseman will relieve his horse and walk at times. There are very few boot products available which cover combined walking and horse activities. Comfort is important as is kicking free of the stirrups so choose boots wisely.
A good set of 'half chaps' is also highly recommended.
The word chaps is derived from the Spanish word 'Chaparehos' which meant leather britches or 'legs of iron'. Chaps were designed to help protect the lower leg from daily environmental hazards.
Don't underestimate personal care, it will make all the difference with your mental state over time.
Don't forget the tooth brush & paste, otherwise your horse will have an opinion.
Environmentally friendly body wash and clothes wash is also recommended
Cater for bad hair days, headaches, sun exposure and dry lips
A small first aid kit is advisable, band aids, compression bandage, probe for splinter removal, anti-histamine and pain relief as a minimum
For the additional feminine hygiene considerations, the menstrual cup is an eco-friendly alternative giving 6 to 12 hours of freedom depending on heaviness of flow.
8. Head Gear:
Although a personal choice;
A light weight helmet (with an add on sun protector) for riding and wide brimmed hat for the sun whilst walking is recommended
For those cold mornings pack a balaclava
A good quality head torch is also a must. Variable light functions, long life battery with recharge ability and facility to mount on a helmet are useful options.
Don't forget the sun glasses, with an attached strap to minimise the risk of losing them.
9. Moisture Protection:
There are many options available to protect your gear from moisture. A good quality garbage bag and resealable lunch bags are low cost alternatives, although their longevity can not be compared to the more expensive & robust 'Dry Bags'.
10. Recharging Equipment:
With modern technology comes the added burden of needing power. No power, no happy snaps or lighting. There are power bank and solar panel options available which are both compact and durable. Do your home work to ensure you buy good quality and the device will last the distance. In the event a power outlet is available ensure you pack the charger and a good universal power lead to cater for all your devices.
11. Miscellaneous Items:
The need to purchase additional supplies along your chosen route will require access to funds.
Modern phones have the ability to act as your bank card, usually by use of an app. This will depend on the bank you are with and type of phone used.
If you are using more conventional methods such as cash or bank card, these should be carried in a waterproof carrier, e.g. belted pouch, zipped pocket
A variety of coins maybe required for coin operated laundry and shower facilities scattered along the route. From experience, many local businesses for one reason or another, do not like to provide coins for these facilities. Some facilities are moving to a card based 'tapping' system to prevent theft from coin machines.