If what you’re looking for is an adventurous way to take a break from all the stresses of daily life and time to reflect and reconnect with yourself and nature, then you need to go on a hike!
But before you kick off with your hiking expedition, make sure that you’re equipped with these 10 must-have accessories that are essential for a safe and fun hiking experience.
1) Suitable Footwear
The type of footwear you’ll need depends on the type of terrain you’re planning to go to.
For a smoother trail, well-fitted trail runners or simple hiking shoes would suffice. But if the hike involves trekking on rugged and rocky terrain, then you’ll have to get good quality trekking boots.
Trekking boots have deeper grooves that ensure a powerful grip on rocky and muddy surfaces. At the same time, the cushy design of the boots provides your ankle with support and prevents painful ankle sprains from ruining your hike. However, these boots are not made for snowy and steep surfaces.
Footwear also includes socks, which may sound unimportant to a newbie but an experienced hiker knows that they are one of the most important hiking accessories you’re going to need. They not only provide you with comfort by absorbing sweat and reducing friction but also prevent skin problems like blisters and maceration.
Remember to carry an extra pair of socks. It can come in handy in case you step in a puddle.
Lightweight hooded jackets and comfortable pants/shorts are the hiking apparel that most people go with. Still, your exact clothing will depend on the type of weather you’re going to hike in.
A good way to go about it is to dress in layers. This way you can easily adjust to changing activity levels and the weather.
For a sunny day, you’d also want to bring your sunglasses and hats with you.
However, nature is often unpredictable and a peaceful sunny day could change into a storm any second. As a precaution, always pack a raincoat, quick-dry layers, and some spare warm clothes.
3) Map, Compass, and a GPS
In order to not get lost and know where you’re headed, always carry a GPS/compass and a paper map.
GPS is an excellent device for navigation. You can plug in the coordinates and it will guide you to it using a digital map. These devices are waterproof and robust, making them suitable for a hiking expedition. Make sure to pack extra batteries along with your GPS device.
While GPS units are better than paper maps, they aren’t always reliable. As a precaution, you should carry a paper map and a compass and learn how to navigate using them.
For the compass, don’t use the ones that are installed in your smartphone because a phone works on a battery, which can always run out. Try not to be dependent on batteries and carry a military-grade compass.
4) Drinking Water
To keep yourself hydrated during a hike, carry half a liter of clean drinking water for every hour of the planned hike.
If you run out of water, you’ll need to obtain it along the trail. This water will be undrinkable unless purified. That’s why it’s recommended to know how to purify the water before going on a hike.
Some easy ways to purify water on the go include:
- Chlorine drops
- Ultraviolet light
- Iodine tablets
- Boil the water for one minute
Here’s a handy guide on how to start a fire.
Pack calorie-rich foods to keep your energy levels up. These include canned foods, energy bars, whole-grain tortillas, nuts, seeds, and fresh fruits that don’t need refrigeration.
And just like water, always keep extra reserves for food too.
6) Safety Equipment
Safety should always be a top priority. Don’t forget to pack the following equipment.
A fire starter. The ability to start a fire can save your life during emergencies by keeping you warm and at the same time, acting as a signal for help. To be able to start a fire, you can bring matches or a lighter along with some cotton balls that’ll help ignite the flame.
A headlamp or a hand-held flashlight will help you find the way if it gets dark.
A multi-tool pocket knife. It has all the tools you could need in the wilderness.
A first-aid kit, which may include but is not limited to, bandages, painkillers, gauze, alcohol wipes, and a tourniquet. Have a basic understanding of all these supplies because these will be only helpful if you know how to use them.
A lightweight space blanket will protect you from different elements if you’re stranded or injured. In case it rains, it will also prevent you from getting wet.
If you want a better shelter, you can go with a backpacking tent or a tarpaulin tent. The only trade off with tents is that they are heavy and expensive.
8) A Rucksack
Finally, you’ll need a rucksack or a camping backpack to carry all the essential accessories listed above.
The size of your backpack depends on two things: the duration of your hike and the amount of accessories you plan to carry.
Generally, a 30-liter backpack is more than enough for a day’s hike. If you’re thinking of carrying a bigger backpack, think again because you’d want your bag to be as light as it can be.
If you’ve packed all these must-have accessories, then you’re all set to go for an exciting (and safe) hike!