Going on a hike can be many things — a fun challenge, a spiritual journey, a relaxing scenic foray into nature, a good workout, a way to explore some sites and reach a view, you name it. Whether you end up picking a more manageable trail or one of the more challenging paths that will put your back into it, hiking is an experience that arguably everyone should experience at least once in their life. Hiking can even evolve into trekking if you dive deep enough over time.
That said, as many great things can come with a good old hike, there can also be a host of problems if you don’t have the right gear for it. Properly pack for the experience, though, and it’s one you likely won’t forget (in a good way). Here are some things you absolutely should bring along with you:
A trusty backpack
Everything you need needs to go in something, so make sure the pack you are bringing is sturdy, comfortable, weather-resistant, and, most of all, has enough space. More than the aesthetic factors, you want something that practically works for you and doesn’t cause you too much effort to carry around and look through. You should also make sure you pick the right size for however long your hike might be. If it’s a short trip, you don’t want to waste energy with an overly large pack. On the flip side, you don’t want to come up short in supplies and space for a long hike.
If you’re not doing intense climbs like a mountaineer, you may wonder what exact gear is enough but not too much. You’ll want comfortable clothing that provides enough protection from the weather and temperature, and you’ll want the best hiking boots so that you don’t hurt your feet and ruin a pair of shoes. For colder climates, you’ll wish to have a jacket and boots combo with gloves, whereas hotter hikes are probably hiking shoes and cap with sunscreen situation. You’ll want to carry an extra set of clothes to change into, though you don’t want to pack too heavily.
If you’re going to be there for a few days, adjust accordingly. For any hikes in dark lighting conditions, make sure you bring a headlamp or flashlight to be safe.
The worst thing is to get lost, and you don’t want that. You should generally hike with a group anyway with a set trail, but it’s still wiser to pack in directional items to guide you. Take a map and compass with you if you don’t have a GPS device. Try not to rely on your mobile phone as trails aren’t known for good signal coverage.
You don’t want to dehydrate or starve. You need all the energy you can get to get through the hike, but you also don’t want to overstuff yourself. Bring water and some light snacks that can tide you by. For longer walks, some people bring fruits, ready-made food that doesn’t spoil easily, and trail mix. You may be tempted to bring a small cooking set, but frankly, this can be a troublesome option that isn’t worth the weight and complications. It could also be a wasted opportunity if there are no areas to find food anyway (and canned goods or perishable food are too heavy).
This item is an essential inclusion that, unlike the others, you really shouldn’t skimp on. Bring a kit with all the essentials so that you are prepared for any injuries or sudden ailments that can hinder you or any hiking partners from continuing safely. You’ll want to make sure your kit has bandages, butterfly closures, dressing pads, non-adherent dressing, gauze, tape, a multi-tool, forceps, and blunt scissors. It should also have a thermometer, light splint, cotton swabs, topical ointments, pain relievers, and rehydration salts. These are part of what should keep you safe or give you the means to respond to any incidents.
Basic emergency supplies
Even though we don’t want to overpack and be paranoid, it’s best to have the right things for good measure. A small tent or blanket, some matches, and a fire starter, among other things, can’t hurt to be in the list of supplies you have at the ready. That can be very useful if there are sudden delays in the hike because of inclement weather or if you get lost and need to wait for assistance or rest before calling out for help.
If you’ve got all of your hiking essentials together, you can finally enjoy the great outdoors without worries.