Whether you’re casualing hiking at a local spot, or making your way to the peak of a difficult summit, knowing what to bring on a hike is important.
Pack too much and you’ll weigh yourself down with gear you don’t need. Pack too little and you could find yourself in a situation where you wish you had more. Finding that sweet spot between too much and too little doesn’t have to be difficult though. With a little bit of forward preparation you will know exactly what to bring on a hike.
A daypack is essential for carrying all of your gear. When picking out a daypack you want to make sure that it’s large enough to carry everything you need, but not unnecessarily large to the point it’s overkill. Comfort is a big consideration with daypacks as well. since you will be lugging it around with you the entire time you’re on the trail, you’re going to want to make sure it doesn’t bother you.
Weather Appropriate Clothes
Depending on where you’re hiking the weather can change drastically. You need to take into consideration that the higher in altitude to get the cooler and it will be. There are also microclimates and other diverse weather pockets to contend with.
It is a good idea to do a little bit of research beforehand to see if you can get a sense for the overall weather that you might encounter. If that is not an option, plan to pack a bit more than you need. Afterall, It’s much easier to shed layers than it put something on that you don’t have.
Happy feet make for a happy hiker. Make sure that your footwear is geographically appropriate. If you’re going to be hiking somewhere relatively flat with well maintained trails then you are probably ok with lighter weight tennis shoes. If you’re going to be summiting a mountain, you’re going to want something a bit heavier duty.
Water, Water, Water
As a general rule of thumb, pack however much water you think you need and then double it. It is much better to return from a hike with excess water than it is to realize that you don’t have enough. This is especially true if you find yourself in a scenario where you get lost, or hurt, or anything else that requires you to spend more time on the trail than you anticipated.
Like water, you’re going to want to bring more food than you think you’ll need. Hiking burns a ton of calories, which will make you hungry, so plan on bringing some snacks to keep those fuel sources high. If at all possible, stay away from the junk food too. Generally speaking, you’re going to want to nutrient dense foods like nuts and power bars – things that are small but contain a lot of good calories.
Depending on where you’re planning to hike, navigation is a must. If you know where you are, then you will likely be ok getting home. On the other hand, if you’re hiking somewhere new and rural, you might want to consider bringing one of the below:
- GPS watch or devise with loaded maps
- Smartphone with offline maps installed
- Paper map and compass
- Guidebook or other local resource
No one ever plans on getting hurt, but it happens. That’s why it’s a very good idea to have a first-aid kit on you when you’re hiking anywhere away from help.
First-aid kits can be as simple as some pain killers, bandaids, ointment, or anything else that you can throw into a ziplock bag. If that is too much work you can also buy a small kit from almost any outdoors store for pretty cheap.
Knowing how to start a fire in nasty weather can literally be a lifesaver. Whether you carry waterproof matches, a lighter, or any other fire starting method make sure that it is kept in working order so that you can use it if you need.
Even if you plan to be back well before sundown, you should plan on bringing some sort of light source. Sometimes hikes take longer than you originally anticipate and getting lost in the dark is a terrible situation. We recommend bringing a small headlight with you, but using a phone can serve as a great backup light source too – as long as you have enough battery.
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