Feeling the sun on your face as you walk your trail across the mountains, listening to birds and the rustling of leaves, and enjoying nature – what’s not to love about hiking? Except for when the clouds appear and the rain starts to fall, and you discover you haven’t packed your rain cover and you’ll be soaked to the bone. Damn!
So, whether you’re heading for a casual daily hike in the nearby mountains, or you’re hitting a difficult trail, there are certain items that should always be in your backpack as they’re crucial for a carefree journey.
Here’s the gear that you need to pack for your next hike.
Nothing can ruin your hiking mood as inadequate clothes and uncomfortable footwear, so make sure to choose each item you wear or pack with care. It’s always best to check the weather forecast before you hit the road so that you can select the clothes which can protect you from unpleasant or difficult conditions, such as UV rays, the rain or the cold, and any other elements.
There are clothes suitable for every occasion, such as moisture-wicking underwear and T-shirts, quick-dry hiking pants, long-sleeve shirts or light-weight jackets. If there is a chance of rain, make sure to wear a rain jacket and pants, or bring a rain pack cover or a trash bag. If the days are getting colder, make warm winter jackets and long underwear your winter staples. Also, when heading out for a hike during the freezing winter days, don’t leave your home without a fleece hat, pants, and gloves.
No matter how well you know the trail, make enough room in your backpack for a topo map and a compass. You can print out the map you found or bought online, and use a map sack to keep it protected. GPS navigation is an essential part of the gear to take on your trips too, but since it can run out of juice or get damaged, you might have to do it the old-fashioned way, so don’t consider it as a replacement.
A First-Aid Kit
To prepare yourself for emergency situations during your hike, you should always carry your first-aid kit with you. You can opt for a pre-made kit and customize it to fit your needs, or make your own from scratch. First aid kits include preventive products, such as lotions or balms, pain killers, meds for allergies and diarrhoea, disinfectants, band-aids and medical tapes, as well as safety pins and tweezers.
Also, to best handle emergency situations, you’ll need some first-aid skills, so brush up on them to be on the safe side.
When on a hike, always be aware that the sun’s UV radiation which can be very harmful. Sunscreen and an SPF lip balm, as well as sun-protective clothing, will protect you from getting severe burns and cracked lips, while the right pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes and save you from certain unpleasant conditions, such as snow blindness.
A headlamp with extra batteries is a must-have part of your hiking gear, even when taking only a short trail. Sometimes your trip can take longer than you’ve planned, and you can end up in the mountains or in the backcountry after it gets dark which is a pretty unpleasant scenario. A headlamp or flashlight can help you find your way around more easily and avoid risking injuries.
During any physical activity, you need to keep yourself properly hydrated, so you have to make sure you have enough water with you. As carrying enough water in your reservoir or durable bottles for the entire trail can be heavy, it’s a good idea to use lightweight water purifiers or filters and safely use water sources along your route.
Food and Snacks
Your hiking experience may energize you, but it also burns a lot of calories. Your backpack should contain food which will boost your energy levels, so be sure to include your favorite power protein bars, dried fruit and nuts, as well as some regular meals for longer hikes.
There are some tools which don’t take up a lot of room in your backpack but are worth every inch of the space. One of these things is a small multipurpose utility knife, which is a true life-saver while you’re in the woods. Think about making a waterproof fire starter and a small repair kit your backpack essentials too, and be ready for whatever awaits you around the corner.
With your gear ready in your backpack, and your spirits high, you’ll enjoy your hikes even more.