No matter where you live in the world, there’s probably at least one hiking trail nearby. In honor of the start to the 2018 summer season, get out there for a day hike. Break a sweat, take in the scenery, hopefully get some wildlife photos - all good things for the soul. The mountains are calling... and you must go.
If you’re relatively new to the world of hiking, or if you feel like you always pack the wrong stuff, we’ve put together a checklist of items you should always have with you on the trail. Stay prepared, stay nourished, and stay safe with the following hiking gear and apparel.
Keep your body hydrated and energized
I’m always a bit shocked when I come across hikers with no water and an apple for lunch. If this were any other time in history than right now, these people would quickly perish in the wild.
Please, don’t die. Even the most benign trails can sometimes throw unexpected hazards at you. Getting lost or stuck in a thunderstorm can turn an easy hike into a desperate fight for survival. In which case, you will need food and water.
Pack plenty of water (yes, even though it’s heavy) and enough high-carb, high-protein food to keep you sustained for the entire day. Then - when the summer hail storm hits - you’ll be prepared to wait it out!
Don’t get lost
This might seem excessive (and/or antiquated) for the casual day hiker, but if you’re venturing deep into the backcountry you might consider bringing along the proper navigational gadgets:
- Topographical map: A handy tool if you’re considering significant off-trail adventures.
- Compass: Old-school, yes, but still handy. For bonus points, navigate instead by the sun and stars.
- GPS: You could also cover the previous two items with a good GPS device. But can’t you picture yourself traversing the hills with a map and compass? Such a romantic image.
Why not invest in some self-preservation tools before you head out?
- Sunscreen: Obvious, right? It would seem so, but this is one of the most oft-forgotten aspects to any hiker’s day. The higher you go in elevation the worse the burn, so make sure you always have a spare tube in your pack.
- Bear spray: Not obvious, right? While it would appear to only be necessary in bear country, this product can also be applied to other malevolent creatures with the potential to cause you harm. Coyotes, mountain lions, angry moose or elk...the list goes on.
Bring the right apparel
Dress for hiking success. Before you go miles deep into the forest, make sure you have these bare essentials on your body and in your pack.
- Footwear: Find a shoe or a boot with a solid rubber tread (so you don’t slip all about the trail) and good ankle support.
- Extra socks and shirt: This is key. Socks and shirts are notorious for getting soaked in sweat, so bring an extra pair of each if you want to stay dry on the hike back to the car.
- Warm layers and rain gear: Things change fast in the wilderness. When the clouds roll in, it’s always a pleasure to stay warm and dry.