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Not always a necessity ...

Accessories are not a necessity but assist towards making your hiking experience something to be enjoyed and remembered.  Items are dependent on each person’s prerogative and financial position as to the quality or decision to purchase such items.  Investigate each item carefully prior to purchasing.  Don't just pop into one store, look around.

Gaiters fit over your socks in order to keep out the dried grass or blackjacks.  One can also purchase long gaiters, almost up to the knees which, obviously, prevent the legs from being scratched, that is if you wear shorts when hiking.

Hiking/trekking sticks
These range quite considerably in price but they all work the same.  One can use either one or two sticks, depending on preference.  They act as an additional pair of legs – assist with the descents by taking strain off the knees and by using the arms, they give that extra push on the ascents.

Knee/ankle supports
These are advisable when one has problems with the knees or ankles, as they give added support.  They are elasticated and stretch to fit very tightly around the injured joints, which take strain when hiking.

Day packs
These range in size and price but the day pack requires to hold: lunch, snacks, 2lts of water, warm top, rain gear, small first aid kit, personal items etc.  A 35lt is a good size.  If you can’t carry a day pack on your back, consider a waist band pack which can hold almost all the items mentioned for a day hike.

Drinking tube
A very useful accessory which fits on the top of a drinking bottle which is put in the day pack/rucksack/waist bag.  The tube is then secured over the shoulder.   It means that one does not have to stop,  get the bottle out and then drink, one can easily sip/drink as one hikes.

A wide range of cookers exist to fit any ‘pocket’ – not just the financial one but also the backpack one!!!  Do your homework prior to purchase.  How often will you utilise it, the weight, the convenience, additional fuel, size – take everything into consideration.

Another item which depends on size and utilisation.  They range from aluminum to sophisticated stainless steel and obviously vary in price.

Large rucksacks, obviously for the longer overnight backpacks.  Choose according to the number and length of hikes anticipated.  Ensure that the item has support and padding to fit your back comfortably.

Torch/head lamp
There is such a large variety of torches/head lamps available and one should purchase according to their budget and usage.  The headlamp allows both hands to be free for other uses but are more expensive and perhaps a cheaper torch would do the trick, but don’t make the mistake of going too cheap, purchase something that is sturdy, light weight and practical.

For the bird lovers this is a must.  When standing on the crest of the Magaliesberg, it is super to have binoculars to admire the views more closely.   When hiking, weight is a constant concern, so choose binoculars according to your own desires.

An isomat is bulky but reasonably comfortable and has to be carried outside the backpack.  The more modern lightweight mattress folds up much smaller and simpler and inflates quickly for a comfortable snooze.  They are protected against abrasions, punctures and tears.

Sleeping bags
Necessary for a good nights sleep, especially in winter.  Make sure you get one for the time of year in which you are backpacking and one which is not too heavy.  Sleeping bags range from cheap to very expensive, to withstand +1 to -20 degrees, the latter being filled with down feathers.

For backpacking a light weight one/two man tent is more than sufficient – remember you have to carry it.  The modern ones pack up small and are quick to erect.

GPS system
This is a luxury item but if hiking is your ‘sport’, it is a very useful tool to have in your pocket.  It records your route and gives you accurate readings of your wherabouts, so if you are no very good with directions, then this is for you.   The prices vary drastically, depending on the state of the art technology required.

Waterproof match container 
This is a very useful little item when backpacking.  One never knows when one has to cross a flooded river, even though the backpack is lined with a plastic bag.  Without dry matches there will be no fire, no cooking etc.