Hiking In Armenia? What do I need to know?
I have been traveling throughout Armenia since 2014, mostly in the Eastern part of it, but once I managed to be in the Western part as well. However, this is another story to be told some other time as today I am going to tell you what is better to wear for a hike, and what is better to keep for city life.
Nothing you will read in this article is information from the internet, but the knowledge I gained from my experience. Mountains and roads are two best teachers of mine, and I am ready to share with you the lessons they give.
Hiking Boots: What to choose and how to wear?
Once you make the decision to go hiking, you need to start to collect your outfit. Of course, you can just put on simple sneakers and jeans you wear in the city, but later, when your trousers make your movements restricted and your sneakers hurt your feet, you will regret the choice you have made.
I finally understood that when one day I simply came down from the mountain without shoes, because their soles were torn and fell off. It was six years ago. Now I know, that hiking shoes must be very firm, with thick, hard, and non-slip soles. They must preferably be high, in order to hug your ankles and prevent them from twisting.
Also, it is better to take one size bigger shoes; it gives an opportunity to put on thicker socks and thus protect feet from impact. The shoelaces may be a little weak during the ascent, but in the time of the descent, they should be tightened well. In that case, the toes will not reach the front of the shoes and will not get hurt.
Hiking boots must be waterproof to protect your feet from getting wet during a rainy day or walking through the snow. Yes, sometimes you will have to pass a snowy area even in summer, for example, if you decided to climb Aragats.
If in the city sometimes you may put on spring or autumn boots in winter, then in the mountains you cannot allow yourself such an extravagance, especially in the mountains higher than 4000 meters. If you do, you may simply frostbite your feet badly.
Special winter boots are heavy and tough, therefore it is very uncomfortable to wear them in the places not covered with snow. That is why many experienced hikers often take their ordinary hiking boots with them.
Yes, socks are almost as important as the boots. It does not mean you need to run to the special hiking shop right now and buy expensive socks. No. All you have to do is to make sure you have a few pairs of thick and soft socks with neat seam.
During the winter hike, you will need to wear two or three different socks; for example, I take on thin cotton socks first, then another pair of thick ones, and in the end, if it is a really cold winter, I wear knitted woolen socks. I bet your mother or even grandmother would be happy to knit warm socks for you!
Nevertheless, you can find thermal socks in special shops as well.
Pants and Outerwear
Now, when we are finished with the lower part of the outfit, let us move up slowly.
What kind of pants is it better to wear during a hike, in order to feel both comfortable and safe? Summer pants must not be tօo wide to hinder the walking process, and too narrow to constrain your movements.
It would be better to wear pants made from thin cloth․ They do not make you feel hot and get dried fast enough in the case of staying under the rain. Some people prefer to wear shorts while hiking, so do I, but if you have too light skin I would not advise you to do that.
Nevertheless, if you really want to walk in shorts, then definitely use sun cream and wear shorts under the sun for a limited period, in order to let your skin get used to it. These preventative measures will help you to avoid sunburns, which may cause serious problems sometimes.
Another difference between pants and shorts: pants also protect your legs from scratching on dried branches, thorns, and snake bites to some extent. Moreover, pants have more and different kinds of pockets where you can put your phone, little rocks collected during the road, and even some snacks.
Winter pants may be wider because sometimes you will need to wear thermal underwear as well. Also nowadays you can find pants with fleece inside, which is a type of thin but quite warm fabric. For more serious hiking or mountaineering, you will need special padded pants.
Another thing you will appreciate during your snowy hiking is hiking gaiters. They protect your pants and legs from getting wet and are very useful in case your pants are not waterproof.
Here is the place when I can say without remorse: you can wear a simple T-shirt, but in this case, you will need to have another one in your backpack, because you sweat during the walk and later you will need to change your outerwear. Otherwise, you are risking to gain a back pain or get cold.
Another type of outwear you can use is a thermal shirt. It does not get wet, also does not make you feel hot. Thermal shirts have long sleeves therefore they also protect you from the sun.
I personally prefer to wear a simple T-shirt and on top of it a thin shirt with long sleeves. It covers not only my arms but also my neck which none of the T-shirts do. Another way to protect your neck is to tie a bandana or take on a buff.
For cold weather hiking, you will also need some warm outfit. You can take on a T-shirt, a thermal-shirt and then a shirt from fleece. On top of all that comes a jacket, the thickness of which depends on the weather you have at the moment.
There are two more types of outerwear you should think about: a windbreaker and a raincoat.
The weather in the mountains is not stable. It may be a perfect sunny day, without the slightest hint of rain or wind when you start to walk, but it may change in a matter of minutes. Therefore it is useful to have your windbreaker and raincoat with you.
You already know about the hiking gaiters and the benefits they bring; now it is time to move on and list other accessories useful in the mountains.
Hats – they are important in any weather and always must be at hand. Do not walk in the sun without a headcover and never hike in winter without a warm hat.
Buffs and bandanas – they also can do a good service both in cold and hot weather. You can use them as a headcover, a necktie, a hair tie (headband), a bandage an in many other ways.
In the case of really cold or windy weather, if you carry them on your head under the warm hat, they will protect your ears and forehead better. There are also warm buffs from fleece that you can use as a scarf or hat.
Gloves – gloves are also very important. You will need to have thin gloves from fleece, and thick ones, to protect your hands in winter.
Sunglasses – this is something that must be with you always, especially in winter. The sun reflected from the snow burns your eyes and skin really badly. When I burnt my eyes in that way for the first time I could not go out in the sunlight for a week. In future articles, I will also talk about the actions you must take in the case of getting such injuries.
Hiking sticks – they will protect your legs, particularly your knees from injuries, as the sticks pass 30 percent of the weight to your hands. They also help to overcome the slopes more easily. Hiking sticks can be used while giving someone a first aid in the mountains, but this is also another theme for another article.
Snowshoes – if there is much snow and still you want to go to the mountain then snowshoes can help you and prevent being stuck in the snow at every step. Sometimes they look like a tennis racket.
Every person is an individual and has appropriate requirements. This article is based on my experience in the mountains of Armenia and I think it will help you to start your hiking journey too. You may have read about my trip to Sevazhayr! Maybe someday we will walk together, who knows?
If you are in Armenia and looking for a shop to buy quality hiking outfit or equipment, then you should defiantly visit this sites:
This Facebook pages also may be useful:
ALPEN Hiking Shop
Hiking Shop Armenia
You can also order everything in any Decathlon shop and have them shipped to Armenia via Globbing , Onex, or any other shipping company.
Should you have any questions about the outfit of a hiker feel free to ask me, also I will appreciate if you share your experience. And remember – safety is a priority and it always comes first.