A hiking adventure is always a fun one to look forward to. It’s an exciting way to get good exercise, breathe fresh air, see some sights, and experience nature at its best. As fun as it may be, proper preparation is critical. You’ll want to stay safe while hiking because once you’ve started your hike, you can’t go back for anything else that you need. What you bring with you is what’ll help you survive.
If you’re planning on hiking soon, this list of essentials hiking gear is going to come in handy. While hiking needs may change from trail to trail, these are basics that every hiker must always bring along with them.
1. Lightweight Backpack
The most efficient bag to bring along when hiking is a backpack. Naturally so, as having one is going to keep your hands free. You don’t want to be inconvenienced by your hands holding things. In hiking, it’s imperative to emphasize that the backpack has to be lightweight.
Your backpack is like your lifeline. This is where you’re going to put all of your hiking gear. But, you also have to pack light. If your bag is already heavy when empty, it’s going to add a lot of weight for you which can cause discomfort and poor balance.
What is considered lightweight is a personal choice. Hence it’s best to shop for your hiking backpack yourself. That way, you can test out the weight before putting in your hiking gear and pick out the lightest.
Related: How to Pack Light for Hiking Trips
2. High-Quality Hiking Boots
Hiking isn’t the place for you to bring just any sneaker, or worse, your flip-flops. Always wear appropriate hiking books and make sure they are high-quality hiking boots. These are boots that will last you through many years of wear and tear. Even more importantly, the hiking boots you wear should keep you comfortable walking for several hours. Hiking boots should also have a thick sole to protect your feet from rocky trails or sharp stones.
3. Food and Water
Food and water are essential for survival, but they are also the trickiest to pack. For food, it is imperative to pack items that you can eat on-the-go. This includes energy bars, bread, fruit, nuts, and even cheese.
For water, you should take into consideration possible water sources that you’ll encounter during your hike. A rule of thumb is to drink half a liter of water per hour to stay hydrated.
4. Navigation Tools
Two of the most common and important navigation tools when hiking are the map and the compass. When you have these two, you’re guaranteed to find your way should you get lost. Don’t become overly reliant on online maps, such as Waze or Google Maps, as you may be hiking in an area where your cell signal is weak.
How do you read a map? This is one of the most common questions asked by novice hikers. Here’s a quick guide:
- Choose the correct type of map. This is a step that you should prepare for days before you start your hiking trip. Make sure to carry the correct map for the trip that you’re going to make.
- Choose the right scale. For hiking purposes, the most common scale used is 1:50,000. This means every centimeter on the map is equivalent to 50,000 centimeters (500 meters) in real life.
- Understand the features of the map. Doing this will help you learn how to use the map.
- Learn how to use the map. There are many tutorials that you can visit online to teach you how to use the compass you have in conjunction with a map. If you know of expert hikers, you may ask for their help too.
5. Weather-Appropriate Clothing
Before you start packing for your hike, make it a point to double-check weather conditions. The clothing that you bring along with you should be enough to keep you comfortable. Else, you’re going to expose yourself to danger. For instance, if you don’t have enough warm clothing for cold weather, you could be exposed to hypothermia.
Here’s a sample list of clothing to pack:
- One extra set of clothes, in case you stay one-night longer
- Heated gloves for hiking
- Synthetic or wool socks
- Moisture-wicking underwear
- Lightweight fleece jacket, or ordinary coat, depending on the weather
- Moisture-wicking t-shirt
- Quick-drying pants/shorts
- Sun protection
6. First Aid Kit
It is vital to include a first aid kit as part of your hiking gear. But apart from bringing one with you, you should also know how to use it. When putting together your first aid kit, remember to also pack any prescription or allergy medication you’ll need to take.
Your first aid kit should include:
- Nitrile gloves
- Treatments for blisters
- Pain medication
- Pen and paper
- Adhesive bandages and gauze pads
- Disinfecting ointment
For hiking gear, nothing is more convent than packing a multi-tool in your backpack. A multi-tool is a hand tool that has many different functions built into one unit. These hand tools are so small that they’re meant to be carried in your pocket for easy access. Having a multi-tool when you’re out hiking is essential for survival. You never know what you’re going to come across in the woods. With a multi-tool, you’ll be prepared to handle many situations and you won’t need to bring a lot of tools that can make your backpack heavier.
This list comprises the absolute basics that every hiker is going to need. Depending on your own specific hiking needs, there could be other items you’ll want or need to bring. Going on a hiking adventure might seem like a scary one if you are new to the sport, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. With the right hiking gear and proper preparation, you’re sure to have fun while staying safe at the same time. Now that you’re familiar with the basic hiking gear, all that’s left for you to do is to start planning that fun day out in nature with your family or friends.