There’s nothing quite like getting outdoors and enjoying nature on a hike. But before you head out, it’s important to make sure you have all the essentials with you. Being prepared is essential for having a good time in the wilderness, and safety is always critical when you may not be within immediate range of your car or cell service. Here are some must-have items for your hiking adventure:
1. A Good Pair of Hiking Shoes or Boots:
Trust me, your feet will thank you. Keeping your socks and feet dry is extremely important even on short hikes, wet feet can lead to blisters and discomfort very quickly. Also, proper hiking shoes will provide the support and traction you need on uneven terrain, keeping you balanced and safe on your excursion.
2. Plenty of Water:
Dehydration can quickly become a serious issue, especially if it’s hot outside or you are exerting yourself physically on the hike. Make sure to bring at least one water bottle for every two hours of hiking, and consider packing water purification tablets or a filter in case you need to refill from natural sources.
3. A Map and Compass
Even if you have phone service and GPS, technology can fail and it’s always good to have a backup plan for navigation. Plus, being able to read a map and compass is an essential outdoor skill. Knowing where you’re at and where you’re headed can prevent getting lost on the trail.
Additionally, letting someone else know where you’re going and when you expect to return is a smart idea, in case of any emergency situations. You never want to be in a situation where you’ll need help, but you always want to be prepared in case you do.
4. A Flashlight or Headlamp
The sun might be shining now, but if your hike takes longer than expected or bad weather kicks in, having a source of light is crucial for finding your way back or setting up camp for the night. Headlamps are handy for seeing and navigating in the dark while keeping your hands free while traditional flashlights tend to offer more brightness (and last a bit longer as well.)
5. A First Aid Kit
You never know when you may need to bandage a cut or treat an injury, so having a small first aid kit on hand for emergencies is always a good idea. It’s also helpful for treating blisters and other common hiking ailments. Whether you’re surprised by a snake, slip and fall, or just get a splinter, having some basic medical supplies can make a big difference.
6. An Umbrella
When you’re out in the wild, you run the risk of being caught off guard by a surprise storm. Having an umbrella or rain gear helps keep you dry and comfortable on the trail and can protect any electronics or important items you may be carrying. Staying dry on a hike helps prevent hypothermia and discomfort, so never underestimate the power of an umbrella.
7. A Backpack
Carrying all of your essentials (and any snacks or extra layers you may want) can be tricky without a trusty backpack to store everything in. Look for one with comfortable and adjustable straps and sufficient storage space, and consider looking for waterproof material to protect any sensitive items (like a phone or first aid kit) in case of rain.
You don’t want to be stuck without food, especially if your hike ends up taking longer than planned. Having the right kind of snacks, like nuts, granola bars, and jerky can help keep your energy levels up during your hike. Eating light, high-protein snacks can also prevent feeling sluggish or getting a stomach ache which can be a real dealbreaker when you’re trying to enjoy the outdoors.
9. A Pocket Knife
Not only can a pocket knife come in handy for cutting up food, but it can also be useful for making repairs or even starting a fire. It’s always good to have a versatile tool on hand when you’re out in nature. Some pocket knives are just the simple blade, while others are more of a multi-tool with a variety of attachments. Just remember to use caution and follow all safety guidelines when handling a knife.
10. Sun Protection
Being out in nature can be beautiful, but it can also leave you vulnerable to sunburns and other issues if you don’t take proper precautions. Don’t forget sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to protect yourself from those harsh rays. You don’t want to find yourself at the top of a mountain wishing you had a bit more cover!
It’s always important to be respectful and leave the environment as you found it – pack out any trash you may have, and don’t disturb plants or wildlife on your hike. Don’t forget to pack your sense of adventure and curiosity- The great outdoors has so much to offer, and being prepared with the right gear will help ensure you have a safe and enjoyable time. Happy hiking!