What to take
The golden rule of hiking is to go light. You never need as much as you think! That’s even more true on the Sinai Trail because most of the time hikers are supported by camels carrying food, stoves, cutlery etc. For all hikes supported by camels hikers will need to bring two bags:
One small backpack – a ‘daypack’ – which you will walk with during the day, carrying essential items e.g. water, personal snacks, a warm/ waterproof layer etc. We recommend having not less than a 28/32lt backpack.
One bigger bag – a ‘camel bag’ – only for your clothes. Tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag must be separate items, not stored inside the “camel bag”. It is essential that you seal your sleeping bag and everything inside your camel bag – especially clothes – in dry bags, in case of rain.
The camel bag will be carried by the camels and will be available at your campsite, at the end of each day. Please note camels are limited in number and the load each camel can carry is also limited so every hiker must pack responsibly, respecting and caring for our camels, who are an essential. Camel bags should not be a suitcases or bags with hard frames as these hurt the camels. Large sized backpacks or duffel bags are best.
Footwear for the Sinai Trail
The Sinai Trail is VERY rough on your shoes. Travelers have been complaining about the damage it does to their boots for centuries. Even the best modern hiking footwear gets eaten quickly by the Sinai’s rugged, rocky paths. Don’t bring anything old. Or anything near the end of its life. You might not make it through the hike. A good sturdy pair of hiking shoes are a good option. Boots are another option but some hikers find them hot and heavy. A good pair of trekking sandals are also a good option for long wadi walks and they can also be used in the evening in the camp.
Please do not hike in flimsy trainers, flip-flops, beach sandals etc. Just bring these for the evening to wear at the camp. You should also never walk barefoot on the Sinai Trail: there are scorpions, snakes and sharp rocks.
It is essential to break new boots in before the hike; especially leather boots. Do this by walking in your boots daily, for at least two weeks before the hike. Best of all, walk on the kind of rugged ground we will encounter in the Sinai. Slowly, your boots get used to your feet, and vice versa. Do not start the hike in new boots: your feet run the risk of getting very sore, perhaps even too sore to continue the hike. It is also a good idea to bring spare laces; the abrasive desert air can cause old laces to snap.
These are cool, lightweight and don’t fill with sand, but they leave feet open to falling rocks, thorny desert vegetation, snakes, scorpions and sunburn. They’re favored by the Bedouin and can be a good option in the summer, when it’s especially hot. For hikers prone to blisters, sandals a can be a good option: hot, damp shoes make blisters more likely. Conversely, feet can dry out too much, with painful cracks developing on heals. Sandals can be good to change into at campsites in the evening.
What to wear on your hike
The kinds of clothes you will need will depend on the season. Sinai Trail trips usually run from September through to May. Autumn and spring are transitional months., daytime temperatures are pleasant in autumn and spring, but they can be chilly too; especially if it’s windy or cloudy, or if you are higher in the mountains. Cold weather is most likely from November to March. Winters can be bitterly cold, especially in the mountains, where temperatures often drop below freezing. Snow isn’t uncommon. Rain can fall in any month; sometimes producing flash floods. Whatever season you’re hiking in, come prepared for a range of conditions, including cold, wet weather.
Water is limited in the desert and you will not be able to wash clothes, nor carry enough clothes to change every day. For most clothing items, bring three of each and wear each one for a few days.
This is the layer closest to the skin, such as a t-shirt. Synthetic materials – e.g. specialist running or hiking tops etc – are the best option as sweat evaporates quickly, keeping you drier. Cottons get wet on your skin, making you cold. Wearing wet clothes is not just uncomfortable: it can be a safety hazard, especially in the high mountains during colder times.
Long sleeved T-shirts protect arms, which is a good idea; the collar on a trekking shirt can be turned up to cover the neck. In winter, the base layer can be a good, tight hugging synthetic thermal, with shirts worn over the top as mid layers.
It can be bitterly cold in the Sinai, especially in the mountains in winter. We recommend you bring three thick, warm layers that you can wear at the same time, e.g. thermal underwear, a fleece or micro-fleece, a thicker fleece and a down or synthetic jacket.
Waterproof outer shell or poncho
These are essential!! Wear them as an outer shell, as protection from wind and rain. It can rain heavily and if you get wet, you will get cold. This poses a real hazard and hikers in non-waterproof clothing have died from exposure before. All too often, in a desert, waterproofs are the last thing hikers think to pack. Get a jacket made from a breathable material such as GORE TEX. This does not only prevent you getting wet from outside; it allows warm, moist air on the inside to escape too. It lets your body ‘breathe’. Getting wet from your own perspiration on the inside happens easily, especially during strenuous hiking, and it can also be hazardous.
For cultural reasons, avoid shorts. It is important trousers don’t constrict leg movement. They should be flexible enough to allow your legs to move into whatever position you want them. This is important when scrambling and there is plenty of scrambling on the Sinai Trail. Specialist trekking trousers or loose stretchy tracksuit bottoms will be much better than tight jeans, for example. Synthetic materials are better than cottons in the desert.
We will be walking in the sun for long periods, so a wide-brimmed sun hat to protect your head, face and neck is important. Baseball caps with neck curtains – Legionnaire Hats – are good alternatives. A warm, woolly hat, or a Russian-type hat with earflaps, is good for cold evenings. You can use a Bedouin shemagh too, wrapping it around your head, neck and face, for protection from the sun or cold, following the lead of your Bedouin guides. An elasticated Buff-type head pullover won’t give much protection from the sun, but it can be a good neck scarf or face cover.
There are not many places to wash on the Sinai Trail, so do not carry unnecessary toiletries. Essentials are a toothbrush, toothpaste and a bar of soap. Wet wipes are a good option for cleaning your body without water. Wet wipes don’t burn so please carry small rubbish bag to throw the used ones away. We will have bigger rubbish bags in the camp where you can dispose of waste daily. Tweezers, nail clippers and scissors are also recommended over a long hike.
Basic first aid supplies
The Sinai Trail is remote and far from help. First aid is likely to be basic in the Sinai and it can take more than a day to arrive. This makes a personal first aid kit essential. Hikers should all have a knowledge of first aid and be aware of how to use every item in a first aid kit. Attending a first aid class that focuses on medicine in a wilderness environment and carrying a pocket guidebook on first aid are sensible.
Basic first aid kit
Carry a small, pocket first aid kit, complete with basic supplies. Especially useful are plasters for cuts and grazes, along with cotton pads and an antibacterial treatment like Betadine. Blister plasters, like Compeed, are also worth packing. A good way to protect your feet and prevent blisters is by using zinc oxide tape or microporous surgical tape. Many hikers suffer from blisters and develop a daily routine of taping suspect sores or hot spots on their feet to prevent them developing. Rehydration salts are always useful, along with an anti-diarrhoeal, in case of a stomach upset. Bouts of diarrhoea are common on the trail, especially amongst foreign travellers, as they get accustomed to local food. You should also carry your own supplies of pain killers, such as aspirin, paracetamol.
Water bottles & purification
Bring tough, lightweight water bottles that together cover a capacity of up to 3 or 4.5 litres. Plastic mineral water bottles – the kind available in everyday grocery stores – can spring leaks if dropped and are not recommended. Bladder bottles with special drinking hoses are favoured by some hikers and keep water readily available. The downside is you can’t see how much water is left when the bottle is in your bag. Mineral water will be supplied where possible, but we may need to use natural wells and springs. For this reason, we recommend hikers bring water purification tablets such as chlorine or chlorine dioxide, just in case. Chemical filters and UV Steripens are other alternatives some hiker use to purify water.
Camping gear for the Sinai Trail
A good night’s sleep makes all the difference on the Sinai Trail. We will be walking long distances for many days, and feeling rested, relaxed and recuperated will help you continue every day, day after day, all the way to the end. Good sleeping gear is essential: we will be sleeping in the wilderness for many nights on this trip.
The Bedouin usually sleep under the stars. Tents are a good barrier against mosquitoes – which may be encountered on some parts of the trail in warmer times – and they give a sense of privacy. Most importantly of all, they give insulation from the cold and a barrier against rain, which is possible at any time. Every hiker must have a tent, ideally the smallest, most lightweight model possible and waterproof. Teaming up to share a tent with another hiker on your trip will help limit what the
This should have a comfort temperature rating down to at least minus -5 degrees centigrade, for use in the high mountains in winter. Sleeping bags can be big, bulky and weighty so get the smallest, lightest one you can. Thermal sleeping bag liners are a good way of improving the temperature rating of your bag. Don’t underestimate how cold a desert night can be, including in spring or autumn. Sinai Trail hikers commonly complain their sleeping bags are not warm enough as they get higher into the mountains.
Different types of sleeping mat are available, including inflatable Thermarest-style mats and roll-up foam mats. Both guarantee a more comfortable night’s sleep than soft sand or hard ground. Foam mats last longer; inflatable ones are vulnerable to punctures from small thorns scattered in the desert.
Generally, unnecessary. Bedouin guides bring pots, pans and a gas cylinder to cook on; otherwise, they will cook on a fire.
Other important gear
Flashlight/ headlamp: The best is the type that straps onto your head, leaving your hands free for rummaging in bags, eating etc. Don’t forget spare batteries. Remember to bring spare batteries or a back up power source for electronic gear: solar chargers are good options. For evenings or caves or huts, candles are good items to bring.
Mosquito repellent: Mosquitoes are active in the Sinai, especially on the coasts. An antihistamine creme helps soothe bites if you do get them.
Sunglasses & sun cream: We will be in the sun for long periods. Please bring UV-rated sunglasses and high factor sun cream and remember to apply it at regular intervals. This is important for everybody, especially people with fair skin. Lips burn easily in the Sinai and can develop painful cracks, so a good lip salve is also recommended.
Cigarette lighters: Use these to burn toilet paper and to be able to create fire for many reasons.
Knife: A knife is important for many things; the Swiss Army style, with tools like can openers, a mini saw and tweezers, are best.
Trekking poles (optional): help to support joints and are useful in mountain areas, with plenty of uphill and downhill.
Foreign hikers must bring a passport/ valid visa, Egyptian hikers must carry their ID cards. Bring a travel insurance policy too, in case it is needed.
For further information about the gear please contact us at email@example.com