Today, there are 57.8 million active hikers in the US, and there are over 88,600 miles of trails. The wide variety of trail options and accessibility makes it easy for Americans to go hiking, so it’s not surprising that so many people share this pastime.
What’s even better is that there are trails of all difficulty levels, so it’s easy for you to get into if you’ve never hiked before. But before you leave on a hiking trip, you need to pack the right things.
Keep reading to see which hiking essentials you need to bring on your next trip.
Before you do anything else, make sure you have a decent backpack to bring with you. Not only should it hold all the hiking gear you need, but it should also be comfortable.
If you’re only doing light hiking, then a normal backpack will suffice. However, if you’re planning on longer, more challenging hikes, having a backpack with features such as breathable mesh, belts, and internal water reservoir sleeves is desirable.
It’s helpful if you go into stores and try on their backpacks. That way, you can determine whether or not they’re good fits and have the features you want most.
The Right Clothes
Before your trip, check the weather forecast (you should still be prepared for inclement weather). The clothes you’ll pack will depend on that, but typically, you’ll want to wear moisture-wicking garments, wool socks, and hiking boots.
Some weather-dependent things to pack include rain jackets, beanies, gloves, and cooling towels.
Maps and Navigation Tools
You probably have a smartphone with all the latest bells and whistles. However, those won’t be any good when there’s no reception on the trails. Even if you do get reception out there, what are you going to do if your phone dies?
Bringing a good old-fashioned map and navigation tools (such as compasses) can help out in a pinch. Plus, it can be fun to navigate without modern technology, and can be a great lesson if you’re bringing your kids. They’ll have vital skills to use should they get lost when hiking in the future.
First Aid Kit
No matter how experienced you are with the great outdoors, unexpected circumstances can still happen, and you want to be prepared. You never know if you’ll be stranded, and you want to have the best chances at survival in that case.
At the very least, you should pack bandaids, gauze, bandages, tourniquets, and scissors. Other helpful things include tweezers, emergency blankets, whistles, flares, lighters, waterproof matches, and flashlights. If you’re hiking during cold temperatures, throwing in activated hand warmers can be beneficial too.
One of the most important outdoor essentials to have is water. Without it, you’ll suffer from health problems or even death if you’re lost and stranded.
Don’t use stainless steel water bottles, as they’ll add unnecessary weight. Water reservoirs and plastic bottles are lighter, so opt for those instead.
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll need half a liter of water for every hour you’re hiking. If it’s a challenging trail, then double that. Regardless, pack as much water as you can take.
Food and Snacks
In addition to water, you’ll need food and snacks to keep your energy levels up. Otherwise, it can be difficult to return back to the beginning.
What you pack will depend on how long and hard the trail is. Generally speaking, you’ll want to bring high-nutrient foods, such as trail mixes, nuts, and energy bars. Fresh fruits can also be refreshing!
Like with water, bring extra food. You might burn more energy than expected, get lost, or find others who need food. It’s best to be prepared.
We mentioned earlier that you should bring whistles. If you ever get lost, you can stay put and keep blowing on it to assist people who are searching for you.
You should also pack something like Rocky Talkies, which are two-way radios. Whether you decide to split up, or someone gets lost, you’ll be able to talk to one another still.
The sun can be brutal on your skin, especially if the trail you’re taking has barely any shade or cover. Avoid getting sunburnt and dehydrated by bringing adequate sun protection.
Wearing lightweight but long-sleeved clothes already does a lot; the same goes for hats and sunglasses. You should also bring sunscreen of at least 30 SPF and SPF lip balm. Make sure to reapply often, even if it’s overcast.
Bug bites are no fun; they’re itchy, plus they can carry diseases. When packing for a hiking trip, ward off those pesky insects by bringing a can or two of bug spray.
Always follow the instructions and reapply as instructed.
One of the most fun hiking accessories you can bring is an action camera. Sure, you can always stop and take pictures along the way, but an action camera will capture every moment you’re on the trail. In fact, some even have live-stream capabilities!
Simply attach the camera to your helmet, backpack, clothes, etc. It’ll automatically stabilize your videos so viewers won’t get nauseous while watching.
Have Fun and Stay Safe on Your Hiking Trip
Embarking on a hiking trip is always fun, whether it’s your first or hundredth time. Nature has so many different things to offer, even if you’ve been on a trail several times before.
Just make sure you pack the right outdoor gear and don’t push yourself past your limit. Take it easy, and you’ll have a fantastic time!