Whenever stepping on the hiking trails it is important that you have these essentials to stay safe and make the most of your time on the trail:
- Hiking Boots
- Maps and Compass
- Extra Clothes and Compass
- Light: Flashlight/Headlamp
- First Aid Kit
- Fire Starters and Matches
- Knife or Multi-tool
1: Hiking Boots
It is important to have proper footwear on the hiking trail, not only will hiking boots help avoid slipping and falling, but they will also keep your feet safe and dry. While looking for hiking boots make sure that you purchase a pair that is water proof. You never know what the trail conditions will be or if the weather will change.
Pro Tip: Always carry mole skin in your pack, when ever you start to get a hot spot on your feet, stop and apply. This will help prevent blisters when breaking in new boots! If you have worn the boots before and gotten blisters, put moleskin on those spots before heading out again.
It is extremely important to stay hydrated on the trail! Obviously, everyone is different but as a rule, in moderate temperatures you should pack at least a half-liter per hour you will be on the trail and a liter per hour in high heat. For even longer hikes you should pack a purification device so that you can get fresh water from water sources on the trail. I recommend a Steri-Pen. If you do not properly hydrate you can experience cramps, headaches, nausea, and a decrease in energy. As soon as you start to feel thirsty it is important to drink water to avoid these symptoms, it is your body’s way of warning you.
Pro tips: Before hitting the trail pre-hydrate, drink between 17-20 fl. Oz to ensure that your body is fully hydrated prior to starting. I always bring an extra Nalgene water bottle for the car, and drink at least half of it before reaching the trail head!
Here are some reusable water bottle options
- Nalgene (My go to)
- Hydro Flask (I use this for hot drinks on cold hikes)
- Platypus Softbottle
- Grayl (Built in Water purification system)
- Katagyn (Built in Water purification system and collapsible)
3. Maps and compass
I usually download the trail map from All Trails on my phone, but that doesn’t always mean that you are going to have service or that your phone battery is going to last the entire hike. It is important to bring a real map and compass as well, so that you can ensure that you know where you are going. Before leaving for your hike make sure that you carefully plot the trail out on your map so that you can easily track your path. It also doesn’t hurt to read a guide book and take some notes for yourself as you go. We did this before leaving for our hike on the great range traverse and it was very helpful. We knew exactly what to expect.
Always pack extra snacks and a variety of them. You don’t want to pack only one type of snack; trust me it gets boring. Bring foods like proteins bars, nuts, jerky, or homemade trail mix. Consider salty foods, as they help replace electrolytes and will help keep your energy up on the trail.
5. Extra clothes and Rain Gear
On the trail conditions can change quickly, whenever I hit the trail whether it be a multi-day hike or a day hike I always pack:
-Rain gear-even if the forecast doesn’t call for rain. You never know what can happen.
-Extra layers- it is colder at the summit then at the bottom where you started. Extra layers are essential to stay warm.
-Extra socks-even with water proof boots, it is possible for your socks to get wet. I always keep a dry pair just in case!
6. Light: flashlight/headlamp
Even if your plan is just a day hike, bring a light. You never know if you are going to get lost and end up getting out later than planed. I recommend a headlamp, it frees up your hands in case you need them on the trail and provides good light on a dark trail
7. First Aid Kit
Make sure that at least one person in your group has a first-aid kit with enough supplies for everyone in your group! You can buy a pre-assembled first aid kit, but you can also build your own. Make sure that the kit includes:
-Treatment for blisters
-Various size Band-Aids
Add the personal touch bring things specific to you, for example I always bring an ankle brace in case my ankle acts ups.
8: Fire starters and Matches
In case of emergency it is important to have a way of starting a fire, you never know what may happen and you need a way to keep yourself warm. Make sure that if you are starting a fire, it is in a safe area!
9: Knife or Multi-tool
My main use of this is to cut mole skin for my feet but these are also helpful to:
-Help repair gear
-Or other emergency needs.
Be safe on the trail and Happy Hiking!!!!