Hiking Essentials – What To Take With You
Hiking is certainly thought by many to be one of the most rewarding activities you can do when you go camping. There are many benefits from exercise, an escape from the pace of modern life, fresh air, to seeing magnificent scenery and other wonders of nature. It is no wonder it is so popular a pastime these days.
Whenever you decide to go “back to nature” there is some hiking essentials need to take with you to ensure you have both a safe and fun experience. The list here is not in any particular order.
Planning and common sense
Although planning is not something you take with you, it is an essential step to having a successful hike. This will help you decide what you need to take hiking, choosing a hiking trail that is right for you and your group, how long it will take etc.
Common sense is vital to take with you to make sure you don’t take any unnecessary risks and avoid stupid mistakes. Too many times hikers get into trouble because they forgot to exercise some common sense. Don’t let that be you.
Even though you may be following a designated trail you should still take a long a map and compass. You may need to come off the track for some reason. And if you are going off the beaten track you definitely need these items. Plus it is important know how to use them. Many people also now use a GPS to navigate there way, but I think a compass and map are a great backup if the GPS stops working for some reason. And they don’t take up much room and are light.
Take a cell phone with you in case you get lost or experience some other problem. You may be able to use it to contact help if you need it and it provides another level of safety.. In some remote places it may not work, so don’t rely on it to replace a map and compass.
Take a good backpack with you to carry your equipment. Make sure it easy for you to carry.
Water is heavy to carry and this is the reason many people do not take enough with them. It is recommended by experts you take one bottle of water and a collapsible water container with you. A Camelpak is used by many experienced hikers for its convenience. If there is potable water on your route you can refill your supply there. Also bring a long a portable water purifying system with you for treating water.
A long your hike you are going to want to take adequate food to keep your energy levels up. Work out how much you are going to need and take an extra meal for emergencies or if it takes you longer to complete your hike than planned. Snacking as you go is a good way to keep up energy levels.
Sun Protection and Insect Repellent
If you are hiking in the summer or high altitudes protection from the sun is an important consideration. Use un-perfumed sunscreen to avoid attracting biting bugs and bring along some insect repellent to further discourage them from biting you. Bright sun can cause you to squint and give you headaches, so pack a good pair of sunglasses for your journey.
Bring a long extra clothing to cater for accidents like falling in a lake. Avoid cotton. Store them in a zip lock bag to keep them dry. You also need these clothes in case there is a drop in temperature and need to use them for layers to keep you warm. A raincoat of some sort should also be taken in case the weather changes from the glorious sunshine you started out in. The type of raincoat needed will depend on where you are hiking – a light poncho type raincoat is all that is needed if you are hiking in summer at low altitudes. Your clothing choices are determined by the possible weather conditions you could possibly encounter on your trip.
Even though you might be planning on hiking in daylight hours, as mentioned previously the situation may change and a flashlight or even a headlamp can be invaluable to find you way or as signal if you are still hiking and night falls. Don’t forget to bring a long spare batteries too.
If you do get lost on your hike a whistle is a great way to alert searchers of your location. It should only be use in emergencies.
These should only be used in emergencies and should be kept separate from your normal matches (which should be stored in a waterproof container). They could save your life by helping you to start a fire for warmth or to cook food.
Pocket knife and tools
A pocket knife with a 3 inch blade is all that is needed. A Swiss army knife with scissors, can opener, fold out blade and screwdriver are also advised. It can be used in first aid, making kindling, making repairs and cutting rope as required.
First Aid Kit
A pre-stocked first aid kit is the easiest solution for most hikers. The size and contents of your first aid kit is determined to the number of people on the hike. You should carry at least the basics such as sterilized bandages, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads and plasters because these are difficult to come up an alternative in the wild.
Depending on the hike you are taking you might want to modify this list of what to take hiking and create your own hiking essentials checklist. Most times on your hike you are not going to need to use all of the items but when you do you are going to glad you had them with you.