If you enjoy long hikes, then you should know how to pack accordingly. Usually, it’s like going on vacation; you learn every time you go what you need to bring the next time. However, there are a few necessities that you should just have with you by default. Don’t make these items part of your learning lesson!
To start, here are some things you should bring with you on ever hike.
- Good shoes. On a short day with a light pack and easy terrain, trail shoes work, but on longer hikes, everything is different. You’ll be carrying heavier loads on more difficult terrain. With that in mind, you should invest in some good hiking boots. They don’t have to be fancy, but they should provide you plenty of comfort and support. Keep in mind that when you hike, you’re on your feet for long periods of time.
- Map and compass. Yes, a GPS is great, but a compass and map should be on you at all times. Make sure you know how to use it, as well. The purpose of this secondary measure to not getting lost is to provide you with something that you can use anywhere and without a power source. Let’s say your GPS dies and you lost your batteries in the creek, now what?! Lucky for you, you brought your map and compass!
- Water and purifier. It’s great to bring a lot of water, but you have to keep in mind that water is heavy in your pack, takes up room, and no matter what you bring, it probably won’t be enough. Your body needs water to function, so keep it supplied. If you have a water purifier, you can skip worrying about bringing enough water, and just clean up your water on the way. Never drink water straight from the outdoors if you can help it. Almost every time you’ll end up sick and more dehydrated than you were to begin with.
- You need food to feed your body with energy. Not to mention it keeps you focused with good morale. Bring light food that is rich in protein and calories.
- Rain gear and more clothes. Never just go hiking with the clothes on your back. It’s inevitable that you’re going to get sweaty or muddy or wet. None of those cases are really enjoyable if you only have the clothes on your back. Furthermore, if it rains, to avoid hypothermia, rain gear helps.
- Safety items. Safety should be a top priority. Don’t be that person who goes out into the woods alone with no safety items that you may need in a pinch. This includes items for defense, in the event that you get lost, light to find your way and stuff to start a fire. Pepper spray is always good for defense against bears and any people with ill intent. A weapon of some sort like a gun or knife works well too. If you get lost, you’ll want a good whistle or a beacon or something. A flashlight is a must. And, you should have matches or a lighter or both to start a fire. While we’re on the subject of safety, make sure you have a first aid kit in case of emergencies.
- Knife or multipurpose tool. I cannot stress the importance of a knife enough. It allows you to cut things may that be material or wood. It allows you help in removing splinters, fixing broken glasses, and repairing a number of gear that may be malfunctioning.
- Sunscreen and eyewear. Whether you’re hiking in the snow, the mountains, or the desert, the sunlight can prove to be a terrible enemy. If you’re not protected, you can get severely burned by sunlight, and your eyes can get damaged easily. So, protect yourself with sunglasses and sunscreen.
- A good backpack can make the difference between a good hike and a bad hike. If you’re looking for something to allocate the majority of your hiking fund in, invest it into your book bag. You won’t regret spending money on a great quality book bag that will provide you room for your items while being comfortable on your back. Some backpacks even come in with a built in rain cover. That’d be helpful!
- A second pair of glasses. This is overlooked by many, but for those who wear glasses, you should always carry a second pair of glasses. Your glasses may get smacked off by a branch, scratched, or broken. If you cannot see without them, then what do you do if they break? Your best option is to come prepared: bring a backup.
- Emergency shelter. If you’re going on a long hike, most likely you’re staying the night or a few nights. Bring something sturdy to stay in. This may be a tent, tarp, or reflective blanket. If you bring a hammock to sleep in which is a good idea to keep your pack light, a tarp is a necessity. You cannot predict the weather on a hike, so come prepared. A sturdy tent will go a long way. With a hammock, a tarp is a necessity.
- Don’t forget the toilet paper! Yes, food and water are the two most important things on this list, but I’d like to argue that toilet paper is right up there with them. Unless you’re comfortable with wiping with leaves, toilet paper will make you much happier. In keeping with that, don’t forget waste bags and hand sanitizer. If you’re hiking in an area where a lot of people go, waste bags are important to keeping things clean.
- Other things you might not think about but are just as important include drinking cups, cutlery, insect repellent, binoculars, trekking poles, and a guidebook. Bring metal drinking cups (stainless steel for safety), forks and spoons for your meals, and really good insect repellent to keep those spiders and mosquitoes away. The binoculars will be helpful for spotting animals or seeing from afar. Trekking poles relieve pressure from your body during your hike. A guidebook just makes finding your way around the terrain all the more easy while pointing out the highlights.
Pack these items according to your needs and length of stay. Don’t let yourself find out what you need next time the hard way!