Hiking is an incredible way to embrace the natural surroundings. It refreshes your mind along with lowering the risk of heart disease. Now, whether it is a long hike or a day hike, you can comfortably indulge in hitting the trails with just a little planning.
Are you planning to hike for the first time? Or, you have hiked several times before but are unaware of all the hiking essentials you should pack before leaving home. Then you are in the right place. We have put forth a detailed overview of a few hiking essentials checklists that you can rely on for tackling any unpredictable situations outdoors. Throughout the article, you will find some product recommendations that I know and personally admire.
1. Navigation And Communication
Exploring is fun unless you become lost, exhausted, and hopeless by losing track during backcountry hiking. Since it is a hassle and can be life-threatening at the same time. Hence equip yourself with an accurate map, a reliable compass, and a GPS device if possible. A GPS device assists you in accurately locating your position and helps you reach the destination.
Most GPS devices nowadays have waterproof and rugged construction. Besides, a smartphone works great for navigating into the woods. As it can allow you to access offline digital maps. Make sure your smartphone integrates GPS technology. So you don’t have to rely on cell phone tower connections. Whichever device you feel comfortable using for navigation, bear in mind to monitor its battery level. IT would be prudent to carry power banks or extra batteries. However, keeping a printed map close at hand is always a good backup.
2. Find A Way To Ignite Fire
Campfire creates a relaxing ambiance after a day-long hike. Moreover, fire is essential to cook food on overnight hiking trips. You can carry a portable stove like the BioLite Campstove 2+ in such cases. With this portable stove, you can charge your phone and light up your surroundings with the USB LED lights as well.
However, if you want to go for something more portable, then a firestarter would be an excellent option. For instance, the Swedish FireSteel is an outstanding waterproof firestarter that is worth carrying for emergencies. It is lightweight and lasts up to 12000 strikes. With a firestarter, you can do a lot more than just light a fire. From using fire as a means of signal for summoning help in an endangered situation to keeping you warm during the coldest hours of the night, a firestarter is essential. Its included whistle can guide rescuers to you even if they are miles away. Lighter matches can also come in handy for igniting the fire.
3. Hiking Backpack
With a daypack, you can easily store and have access to food, water bottles, gear, and all your necessary items while hiking in the backcountry. Go for a hip pack if you want to have quick and easy access to all your supplies. Carry a waterproof pack cover if your daypack does not have built-in water protection. That way, you can save all your essentials in case of a sudden downpour.
4. Food, Water, And Purification
Kickstart your hiking day with plenty of calories right before hitting the trails. Carry the rest of the meal in your backpack. Before you head out for hiking, pack energy bars, dried fruits, instant oatmeal, leafy greens, cheese, nuts, or nut butter that are easy to carry and convenient to have on the trails. For lunch, you can bring a sandwich or pasta as well. To stay hydrated, it is wise you carry 2 liters of water per day for each person.
Besides, if you run out of packaged water, a lightweight water filtration system can help you purify water from a nearby stream. Moreover, anytime you can adjust the amount of food you consume based on body type, age, distance and intensity of your hiking type, perspiration rate, and weather conditions. However, always remember to pack extra calories of food worth enough for a day in case of an emergency.
5. Weather-Appropriate Clothing And Footwear
The way you dress matters when you head out hiking. Since the harsh weather can ruin your hiking experience and compel you to get back home midway. So you should check the weather forecast and pack clothes depending on the weather conditions you are about to face while hiking. Trail runners and hiking shoes can suffice when you are hiking on smooth routes.
But if you decide to go on backcountry hikes or rough trails, then go for rugged boots. That way, it will protect your foot from accidental abrasions and bruises. Choose synthetic shirts and tops that are moisture-wicking and breathable. During your hiking trips, it will keep you dry and warm. Furthermore, wear long-sleeve clothing to shield yourself from the sun’s harmful Ultraviolet rays.
Also, remember to wear breathable and quick-drying hiking pants and athletic underwear rather than wearing bulky jeans. As a result, it will reduce chafing and other irritations. Breathable and comfortable hiking socks are a great way to prevent blisters as you hike for a prolonged time. It is also essential to keep lightweight jackets and pants with durable layers suited for rainy or cold weather.
6. Health And Protection
Hiking is a tremendous activity for your cardio to keep you healthy and stout. But there are a few essentials that you need to pack along for maintaining your basic health requirements on hiking trips.
Pack along an assortment of medication that you may need during hiking. If you are allergic to food or have any other issues, let your hiking companion know beforehand. So you both can stay prepared and follow proper medications in such cases. Moreover, before you leave home with all your nuts and bolts for hiking, make sure to have knowledge about doctor-prescribed meds and over-the-counter medicines. Also pack along necessary ointments, bandages, and alcohol disinfectant wipes.
- Hand Sanitizer
It is important to wash your hands before eating. But hand washing requirements can be cumbersome on backcountry hikes. Hence, the most convenient way for hand washing is to carry a hand sanitizer. It can neutralize any harmful bacteria and viruses that you may encounter along the trail.
- Bug Spray
Remember to keep effective bug sprays on your hiking essentials checklist as insects and buzzing mosquitoes are real nuisances in the way of enjoying the great outdoors. Moreover, DEET-based bug sprays such as the Ultracathon can effectively keep bugs away while hiking. Just apply on your skin and you are good to go.
- Sunscreen and Sunglasses
Prolonged exposure to Ultraviolet Rays can lead to sunburns, premature skin aging, and even skin cancer. Therefore a powerful sunscreen with 30 SPF or higher can protect you from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Besides, sunglass is important as well. Good quality sunglasses can protect your eyes from developing cataracts. If you are hiking in a cold area, then go for snow goggles or glacier sunglasses. They can protect your eyes from heavy cold breezes, ice particles, and UV rays as well.
7. Light Source
A headlamp becomes a lifesaver when a day hike extends into the night or a clear sky suddenly holds dark clouds. In such cases, a bright light source can help you reach your destination. You can also carry a flashlight. But that can be strenuous for your hand on a long hike. So wearing a headlamp can safely lead you through dark pathways and even work as a signal to guide rescuers to you.
Many people don’t bother about maintaining hygiene while outdoors. And, toiletries are a must-have because you never know when nature calls. Therefore, pack biodegradable soap and wipes. You can also purchase waste bags to seal in feces without any risk of spreading bad odor. Apart from all these, try to carry a toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper, and a trowel that many hikers often miss or think is unnecessary.
9. Personal Items
Often many people do not feel the importance of packing a couple of items like a pen, wallet or credit card, IDs, hiking journal, camera, lip balm, necessary ointments, bandages, and many more. All these can save you from being exhausted on a day-long hike and even come in handy during several situations. For instance, a journal would help you to take notes or doddle during the hike. But this can also come in handy for igniting a fire or creating notes for the rescuer to find you. Pack a few of these essentials as they might save you in multiple ways.
10. Extra Supplies
Although during day-hikes, the power bank is merely necessary, it can be a beneficial gear to have in case your phone runs out of battery. So pack some extra batteries or power banks so that you don’t have to keep an eye on the battery level of your devices. Similarly, pack extra food and water at least for a day in case you have to stay overnight in the woods.
Over the years, I have learned that hiking is not only about throwing some food, water, and clothes inside the bag and getting ready to hit the trails. Overall, hiking revolves around planning, diligence, and compliance with mother nature. Since reckless decisions during emergencies can be life-threatening. Hence, utilize the above hiking essentials checklist and hit the trail with full confidence. This will keep you relaxed and assist you in tackling any perplexing situations that you may come across during hiking.
Diana Miller, is a dedicated nature enthusiast and an outdoor adventurer. She began leading groups for excursions in her teens and never stopped. Following her passion for nature, she gathers her friends for outdoor trips every now and then. And for the last 10 years, she has executed workshops on backpacking, snow kayaking and traveling that included her main motive of lightweight packing while outdoors. During leisure, she loves planning for her next adventure.