What Do I Need To Hike?
I don’t think there is anything else in the world that can give you the same adrenaline rush and fun experience that hiking does. I am sure that outdoor lovers will agree with me here. Whether it is on a rocky mountain or along a bushy nature trail, you are sure to have the time of your life stretching your legs and exploring nature’s wonders. In spite of this fact, hiking can be an absolute nightmare. This usually happens when you as the hiker go unprepared for what the wilderness has in store for you. It is for this very reason I decided to share the top twelve items which in my opinion are vital your hike. These will not only make things easier for you as you hike but could also keep you alive and safe in case of emergencies.
Below are the twelve things you need to ensure your comfort, safety and survival as you go hiking. The twelve are all available in camping supply stores and general stores and are absolutely affordable. They are:
- Proper hiking clothes
Whenever you are dressing up for a hike, there are two important things to consider. The first is your comfort. Trust me you do not want to be climbing a hill or walking through the woods with the wrong shoes or ill-fitting clothes. Therefore, make sure that you get well-padded hiking shoes and clothes that fit; preferably cotton. The second thing to consider is your body temperature. Whether you are hiking under the hot sun or in snowy weather you must always have a warm jacket, gloves, a scarf and a hat with you. This is because no matter where you are, from evening throughout the night the cold is brutal. The warm clothes will help insulate you and keep you from freezing to death while on you expedition.
- Hiking poles
Hiking poles, also known as trekking poles, can and will make hiking a whole lot easier for you. This applies mainly when you are hiking along rough and uneven terrain. Having poles to help support you and carry your weight helps by adding stability and reducing the amount of energy that you need while trekking. The type of trekking pole depends greatly on where you are hiking. If it is on snow-laden ground they should have a design that keeps them and you from sinking too deep into the snow. Those for hard ground should have ridges surfaces to increase grip especially on rock surfaces.
- Well-equipped First Aid kit
Accidents and injuries are all too common during hiking. It can be minor injuries like scraping your knee on a rock or a small cut from a thorn. These are easy to handle as all you need to do is clean and dress the wound. However, the injuries could be a whole lot more serious with examples including joint dislocations, bone fractures and burns. For this reason, it is important to ensure that the kit is well stocked with enough equipment to handle even the most serious of injuries and incidents during the hike.
- Source of fire
Every hiker knows that fire is their number one friend in the wilderness. You can use it to cook, illuminate, protect and so many other things. It is therefore very important to have a source of fire with you especially if you think there is the chance of the hike turning into an overnight affair. The must-have tools here include matches or lighters, gasoline and fire starters. It would also be a great idea for you to learn how to start a fire using naturally available resources like wood, rocks and sun beams.
- Source of light
Light sources can be in form of flashlights, torches, lamps (oil or electric), or fire. They are important to you as a hiker when you are going through dark places like caves or heavy canopied forests. They also come in very handy at night to light the way and scare off wild animals in the hiking trail. For the torches and flashlights, make sure that you have extra batteries for them. If you can get your hands of a solar powered source of light then you my friend have the greatest advantage as you can charge it during the day and use it at night.
- Lots of water
All the walking, climbing and running is sure to take its toll on your body’s water reservoirs through sweating. This puts you at risk of getting dehydrated which could quickly lead to more serious states including unconsciousness. To avoid this, make sure you carry as much water as you possibly can. If it you find that the extra language might weigh you down, consider investing in a portable water purification system. This way, you can work with the water you find in the wilderness to complement what you have carried for yourself.
The best examples in this category include bananas, oranges and mangoes. These are simple sugar foods that release energy quickly to give you the much needed energy boost. Also carry complex sugar foods which take long to release energy but have a longer sustained boost effect than the fruit. These include things like pastries and meat. Avoid junk food which will just waste your space and energy without adding any actual nutritional value to you during your hike.
- Emergency shelter
Sometimes due to unforeseen circumstances you might find that your simple one day hike turned into an overnight event. In such a situation, having emergency shelter will make your life a whole lot easier. These include tents, sleeping bags and bivy blankets. It would also help if you learnt to use the resources around you like wood and leaves to set up temporary shelter.
Pen knives, hunting knives, curving knives; you name it. These are by far the most important tools for a hiker especially where there is camping involved. A good knife will help you get food, prepare it, build fires, protect yourself and so much more that is needed for survival in the wilderness. This is what lands it its spot on my must-have list.
- A map and compass
You need to know where you are going or you will find yourself completely lost especially when you are hiking on unmarked trails. This is why maps and compasses are so important. It is also important to know how to use them and things like sun position to tell your location. If available, GPRS locators work just as well if not better than the map and compass ensuring that you are on the right track.
- Sun protection gear
Finally, sunscreen, sunglasses, caps and anything that can protect you from the sun should be with you on every hiking trip. The sun can and will dry you like a raisin increasing risk of dehydration. This is why you need caps and other covers. Sunscreen protects you from sunburns while sunglasses protect your eyes from strain due to the direct glare of the sun.
- Mosquito repellant
Mosquitos can be quite a menace to hikers both at night and during the day. Ointment repellants keeps the bugs away which ensures that you can hike or sleep without being bugged; pun intended. The repellant also protects you from getting infections transmitted through the mosquitoes. It is therefore a must-have in your backpack if you are planning on going hiking.
I believe that the list above completely covers the most essential items for the best hiking experience. It is, however, important not only to get these items but also to learn how to use them. Imagine getting injured but having no idea what to do with the equipment in the First Aid kit. It would be a total waste. Therefore, make sure that you take time before the hike to familiarize yourself with all of them. Bottom line, whether you are a first time hiker or a trekking veteran, it is important that at all times you should have access to the ten items above.