Hiking, especially when discussing hiking essentials for beginners can really help with the initial hiking experience as one or more if these omitted from the planning phase can be very inconvenient later on for the hiker.
Hiking is one of the most desirable soft adventures out there for us globetrotters, it’s fun, challenging, enriching and introspective.
More often than not, the amount of supplies a hiker would require will depend on factors like:
• The season of the year
• The length of the hike
• The terrain of the hiking location
Which is why its essential to be well prepared and equipped for any good hike, and with that, here are some items to consider taking on your next hike.
Some would refer to it as the source of life, water is extremely important when it comes to hicking, it helps keeps the body active and hydrated considering how much energy will be exhausted during the course of the hike.
Side note: Take more water than needed.
This can come in handy in a number of different ways so its good to have some extra water with you than estimated.
It may also help to look into water purifiers in the event that you’d want to consume or make use of somewhat sordid water en route.
Pro tip: Drink efficiently.
When you find yourself thirsty and wanting to gulp down a good amount of water, be sure to keep in mind that most of your thirst comes from your mouth, spread the water around your mouth for 20-30 seconds before swallowing.
In addition, do not confuse thirst with dehydration, if you’re really dehydrated then be sure to drink enough water you feel your body might need.
We can’t talk about water without mentioning food, take foods that are nutritious for hiking and easy to eat like trail mix, powered custard and granola.
Side note: Energy bars are great.
Energy bars can help you replenish some of your used energy over the course of the hike.
Pro tip: Invest in chocolate.
Dark chocolates are quite nutritious and can be particularly valuable on a hike as the ones with high cocoa content helps protects against sun damages to the skin amongst other benefits. Kris Gunnars, a writer for popular health blog Healthline writes.
The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin.
The flavonols can protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.
Another hiking essential would be clothes, hiking clothes typically consist of three layers:
• Base layer
This is the first and foremost layer of clothing on you, the base layer is usually of a polyester or merino wool fabric and its main function would be the wicking away of perspiration from this part of your clothing, thus ensuring you stay dry, your base should also on some level guard your body against UV rays.
• Middle layer
This is worn over the base layer and is often applied to moderate and retain body heat in fairly colder whether conditions, examples of such is something like a fleece jacket.
• Shell layer
This is the outermost layer for the hiking clothing system and although sometimes worn directly over the base layer, its applied during rather windy or rainy weather conditions.
Side note: Gloves can be useful.
If you know there’ll be lots of snow where you’ll be hiking then you may want to bring a pair of gloves to keep your hands warm and even in rocky terrains, you can use them when you have to lift things.
Pro tip: Bandanas are cool too.
From dust masks to ear muffs and neck protection, bandanas can come in handy in a number of different ways so you should really consider taking this item along.
4- Navigation system.
When hiking, anyone in their right mind would want to know about their current location and how much they’ve progressed in the hike and navigation systems like a GPS or compass will help you do just that.
Side note: Take extra batteries.
If you happen to be choosing a GPS for your hike then be sure to get some more batteries than required just in case you’ll be needing them.
Getting a walkie-talkie for you and you hiking partner may be a good idea if the length of the hike is long, you should also discuss the topic of pacing if you plan on going with a travel partner.
You really wouldn’t want a situation where one person is going a little too fast for the other and vice versa. Also if any of you decides at any point in time to leave the hike and return, be sure to inform the other party before leaving.
Pro tip: Get a Personal locator beacon.
The service of a personal locator beacon or PLB for short is usually employed by hikers when in dire situations and sometimes even alone.
In the event that there’s no phone coverage at your current location, a PLB can be used to send personalised distress signals which can really help in search and rescue missions.
And why not just get one anyways, adventures are great no doubt but nobody said anything about not taking the proper precautions.
Its also advisable to get a topographic map and obviously learn how to read one just incase all other options no longer become other options.
Maybe not the average modern day hiker choice but having and knowing how to read a map can be sometimes the best thing, especially in situations where you may not be able to make use of technologies like a GPS or compass.
Please note that you should learn about using a compass if you intend on taking one for your next hike.
A watch is a great item to have along with your hiking pack because it can serve as a way to monitor the time, and also you can use it to figure out how much time you spend moving through landmarks over the course of the hike.
Side note: Take breaks.
As the hike progresses, be sure to take breaks from time to time to give your body a chance to settle down. By breaks, I don’t mean kicking back and hitting up your playlist but rather just really slowing down and maybe sitting down for 30-40 seconds as you snack up on some energy bars.
You may want to follow this pattern a few times before calling it a day, getting too relaxed while on break will make it seemingly impossible for your body to want to continue.
Pro tip: Get a hiking watch.
A hiking watch is far better than your regular old watch in that it has more features like an altimeter for measuring altitude, barometer for determining atmospheric pressure and hiking watches typically have their own built in GPS systems.
6- Hiking boots.
Hiking boots are absolutely essential for most hiking trips, they keep your feet warm, guard against scree and even provide a tighter grip in more rocky or wet terrains.
Side note: Research the hiking location.
By researching the hiking location before investing in any pair of hiking boots, you’ll gain much more clarity on which type you want as there are different boots designed for different terrains.
Pro tip: Invest in hiking socks.
Hiking socks go well in hand with hiking boots, they help wick away moisture from your feet, prevent blisters by reducing friction from movements and even give that added layer of comfort, although sometimes overlooked, a good pair of hiking socks can really enhance the comfort of your hiking experience.
7- First-aid kit.
This list of hiking essential would not be complete without talking about first-aid kits.
Even though you might be well prepared and equipped for the hike, it’s very good to have a good first aid kit and hiking natives know this too well.
Side note: Learn about their usage.
Take some time out to learn about the different first aid kit items and how to apply them, chances are some are more familiar to you than others so start with the ones that you find very foreign to you.
Some of the things your kit should include are:
• Bandages of varying sizes
• Hand sanitizers
• Disinfecting ointment
• Moleskin for blisters
• Insect sting and poison treatment
• Antiseptic wipes
• Safety pins
Pro tip: Get a multi tool.
From can opening to a screwdriver or even a tweezer, its handy to have a multi tool in your list of hiking items for many different reasons. Some good examples of multi-tools include:
8- Storage Item.
With all this talk about hiking items, you will need a place to store them (except green lantern maybe) and this is where a good daypack can come in handy, although smaller, a daypack is more light and can hold a few extras.
Side note: Take extras.
If you’re wondering extra for what item, the answer is yes. Take extra batteries, extra clothes, extra water, extra food, even an extra hiking buddy if you so see fit.
Pro tip: Backpacks are great too.
You may want to consider opting for a backpack if you know you’ll be taking some more items than a daypack may hold and your hiking course is not exactly a short one.
Besides food and water, Shelter is also another important thing to consider when planning your hike. When picking out a tent, you may want to account for certain features like wind and water resistance, weight, privacy level and bug protection.
Side note: You can improvise.
If you happen to pack something like a trekking pole, which besides reducing strain on your knee over the course of the hike, you can also improvise and use it as a pole when setting up your tent.
Another good idea when packing your hiking shelter essentials is taking an emergency shelter item like a bivy bag.
Pro tip: Lighting is key.
At night you want to make sure you have enough illumination, consider bringing a headlight you can use both inside and outside of your tent.
10- Safety items.
From your clothing to your skin to getting around, safety is a very important part of planning a good hike.
Side note: Account for sun protection.
Be sure to pack items like your sun hat, sunscreen and sunglasses if you know you’ll be venturing into a place with intense sunlight.
Besides all the items mentioned above, there are a few others which include:
• Flash light
Pro tip: Fire is your hiking friend.
Especially in colder weather conditions, having a fire setup close to your tent and help keep you warm and cosy.
Hiking is a fun and peaceful way of engaging in interesting adventures and even connecting with friends as long as you take proper precautions and plan your items accordingly with your hiking location, keep calm and enjoy your travels.