Feeling cooped up lately? Hiking is a great way to breathe in fresh air and get some exercise while you’re exploring your natural surroundings. But before you take that journey, make sure you’re prepared for the excursion.
Whether you’re sticking to easier trails or trekking into less explored paths, here are 8 things you should bring with you on your next journey.
1. Comfortable Footwear: Boots and Socks
You demand a lot from your feet while hiking, so make sure to protect them with hiking boots that are well-fitted, lightweight, cushioned, supportive, and water-resistant. You’ll also want to choose your hiking shoes based on the type of hike you’ll be doing. Consider the overall distance, difficulty, climate, and recent rainfall. Nothing ruins a hike faster than stepping in a puddle without waterproof boots!
You’ll also want to invest in compression socks that have cushioning to prevent blisters and wick moisture while keeping a perfect temperature inside your shoes. Look for socks that are made with merino wool or a blend of wool and synthetic fibers-- cotton will absorb and maintain the moisture.
2. Sun Protection
Always, always wear sun protection! Even if it’s going to be overcast on the day of your hike, UV rays can still damage your skin and cause sunburn, especially at higher altitudes. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection) with an SPF of 30 or higher, and grab a hat and pair of sunglasses to protect your head and eyes.
3. Reusable Water Carrier
Don’t upset Mother Nature by bringing a plastic water bottle on your hike.
Hydration packs are a perfect, hands-free option that typically hold at least two litres of water. You can also get a pack that doubles as a backpack for more storage, or keep it simple with just a water pack to avoid any extra weight.
If you’re going to spend a while away from a reliable water source, you should consider purchasing some type of water filtration. You’ll want to do some research on the water quality near your campgrounds or trail, and choose the best water filter based on the cost, weight, and level of purification.
4. Navigation Tools
Even the easiest, most popular trails can have unmarked forks or branches, and it’s easy to accidentally take a wrong turn. It’s always nice to have the trail map pulled up on your phone, but consider bringing a physical map or hiking guide in case you lose signal or run out of battery.
As an added precaution, we always recommend packing a headlamp or flashlight in case your hike extends beyond sundown so that you can still see the pathway back to your campsite or the trailhead.
5. First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is absolutely essential for every hike, no matter the distance or difficulty. Aside from items like blister treatment to keep your journey comfortable, your first aid kit should include:
- Painkillers like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen
- Insect repellent
- Any prescription medications you’re currently taking
- Epinephrine injection pen
Always bring some type of whistle or noise making device in case you become injured or lost. It’s much easier to blow a whistle than yell for help, especially over long periods, which means you’re more likely to catch someone’s attention.
Long hikes can be hard on your body, and it’s always a good idea to bring some extra fuel. Bring some snacks that provide both stamina and energy, with plenty of protein and carbohydrates. Nuts, fruit, whole-grain crackers, jerky, pre-made sandwiches, and even dark chocolate are great snack choices because they can last in any temperature, and they won’t weigh you down.
Remember to leave no trace of your snacks! Food and biodegradable items (like banana peels) can still interrupt the ecosystem, so be sure to bring your trash and leftovers with you until you find a marked container to properly dispose of it.
7. Rain Protection
No matter how sunny the weather outlook is, always be prepared for the worst! Bringing along a compact, foldable poncho won’t take up much space, and it’s absolutely worth it to prevent hiking in cold, wet clothes.
Even if you have moisture wicking socks, you should also consider bringing an extra pair. If water gets in your shoes, the moisture can cause blisters and rashes. Plus, if you’re hiking in a chilly area, wet socks can expedite the effects of hypothermia-- not to mention the general discomfort of walking around in wet socks.
8. Instant Bug Bite Relief
There’s nothing like an itchy and irritating bug bite to put a damper on your outdoor fun. Even if you’re reapplying insect repellent as soon as it wears off, bugs will always find spots you may have missed. Luckily, with Bite Away, you can get bug bite itch and pain relief in a matter of seconds. It’s also lightweight and compact enough to fit in any backpack or bag and makes a great addition to your first aid kit.