By Joshua Hodge,
You don’t have to be an expert outdoors person to go on a hike. However, if you want to remain safe and secure on your trek, then it is important to go well-prepared. If you are new to the world of hiking, you will need a quick rundown of the items that you simply must take with you on your adventure. On that note, here are some ideas of where to get started.
1) Food and Hydration
As you can imagine, staying fueled up during your trek is important. In particular, stay well hydrated throughout the entire hike. Most hikers aren’t aware of the fact that it is incredibly easy to become dehydrated.
The amount of water you need will depend on the length of your hike and the weather conditions. As a rule of thumb, take a water bottle that is able to hold at least 2 liters. If the weather is really warm or if you are going to hike all day, it is best to take an additional reservoir.
In case you are hiking near a water source, make it a point to take a physical or chemical water purifier. You will not have to carry as many bottles with you this way.
As for food, take items that have high energy content and are easy to eat on the go. Popular options are trail mix, nuts, energy bars, jerky, and sandwiches. It is best to stick with foods that will not spoil easily, especially if you are hiking in warm weather.
This what you will need per hiker:
- Water bottle along with a reservoir
- Chemical or physical water purifiers
- Trail snacks
- Enough food for one day
2) Health and Safety
As you are aware, hiking trails can be dangerous on occasion. Thus, it is important to take the appropriate tools with you before heading out. To start with, a flashlight is always a good option, even if you expect to be back home before dark. Make sure to put in fresh batteries and bring extras along, just in case.
Another must-have item is a two-way radio for hiking. This is something you should carry regardless of whether you are hiking in a group or by yourself. If you get hurt, lost, or find yourself in some similar emergency situation, you are going to need to contact others around you. A walkie-talkie will allow you to do just that.
A first-aid kit is another precautionary item to carry with you. Opt for a more compact version, but make sure that it has all the important elements in it. This way, you will be able to treat most minor injuries on the trail.
Appropriate sun protection is an absolute must. In fact, you should be slathering on the sunscreen during all times of the year. The longer you are on the trail, the more damaging the sun can be. Last, but certainly not least, take insect repellent. Choose a good brand and you won’t spend your trip swatting bugs away.
To summarize, it's a good idea to have:
- Two-way radio
- First-aid kit
- Insect repellent
3) Hiking Gear
If you think you can take any old backpack on your hike, think again. The top hiking backpacks have the right features to make your trek more comfortable. So, when looking for a pack, make sure to consider one with thick, padded straps that can easily spread the weight of your gear across both shoulders.
At the same time, get a pack that is equipped with enough compartments, pockets, and additional storage spaces to carry everything you will need. Finally, durability is key with a hiking backpack. Opt for one that can easily withstand the great outdoors.
Now, if you are going to be hiking over rough, uneven terrain, then you may want to consider taking trekking poles with you. These provide enough stability and can even reduce the impact on your knees. If you do decide to go with these, make it a point to get a high-quality, durable pair.
So, what you should look for is:
- Hiking-specific backpack
- Trekking poles (optional but recommended)
Even seasoned hikers can sometimes ignore the importance of the right clothes when hiking. If you imagine that your everyday clothes will work, you need to re-think your decision. With the right clothes, you will be able to simultaneously stay cool, dry, and warm!
To begin with, invest in some moisture-wicking shirts. These help to push sweat to the surface of your clothes, allowing them to dry more quickly. Thus, you won’t have sweat-laden clothes holding you back on your hike.
It is just as important to take additional layers with you on your hike. Since the weather can be unpredictable, taking additional shirts or jackets can allow you to add or remove layers according to the temperature.
If you are headed out onto rocky, uneven terrain, then the right footwear can make all the difference. Hiking boots have been specifically designed to offer support on such surfaces. What’s more, they can improve your overall stability as well. Not to mention, as they are rather durable, they will not get scuffed as easily either.
In summary, what you should wear (and pack) are:
- Moisture-wicking shirts
- Quick-drying pants
- Light jacket
- Hiking boots
You need to be aware that it is possible to get lost, even on the most familiar trails. This is why you should have a couple of navigation tools with you at all times. If you are part of the digital generation, then a handheld GPS makes the most sense.
Now, you may want to use an app on your phone, but it is often better to get an actual GPS device. These are often more powerful and have pre-programmed trails. Furthermore, they are rugged and meant for hiking. Also, when you use them, you won’t have to worry about draining your smartphone battery.
Every hiker needs a backup plan. This is where a physical map and a compass come in. You should always buy a map that is specific to the trail you are traveling on. This will make it easier to find your way around.
Before you set off on your trek, teach yourself how to use a map and compass. Then, give yourself a test run in a more urban area. This way, you can be absolutely certain that if you get lost, you will be able to find your way back.
Therefore, for navigational purposes, you will require:
- Handheld GPS device
- Physical (paper) map of the trail
You don’t need to carry too much with you on your hike. Nonetheless, make it a point to stock up on all the items mentioned in this guide. You can rest easy knowing that you will be safe, comfortable, and happy during your entire hike.