Hiking is both fun and difficult, but you can make it all easier if you try to get all the things you need for a successful hiking experience.
Some of the essentials you need are crucial, whereas some you may be skip on in certain situations. No matter how dedicated you are to hiking though, some things you can’t do without when out on your favorite hiking trail.
You simply can’t go hiking without a map and a compass, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add a wrist altimeter and a GPS as well.
Some even throw in their backpack a topographic map as well, especially if the trail is not that popular and not that well known.
We all know that technology today is impressive, but you should never go hiking without a traditional compass. You don’t need any battery for it, it’s lightweight and, on top of everything else, you may use its sighting mirror (many have it) to flash sunlight to a helicopter for emergency.
Put on your list an altimeter as well as it measures air pressure, giving you a pretty accurate estimate of your elevation. This way you have an eye on your progress and identify better your location on a map.
You do need good light when hiking and a headlamp is a great choice as it ensures hands-free operation. Let’s not forget it’s lightweight, small and has long life batteries.
A strobe mode on your flashlight, it either is a headlamp or not, is a great function to have that may be essential in an emergency.
Get a flashlight or a lantern that is easy to pack and to carry around. Check to see how strong the beam is; it’s something you want to rely on if your life is in danger.
Some go for the solar flashlights and they are great as long as you have enough sunlight during the day. Pack some spare batteries just to play it safe, though.
It’s only a matter of time until you need to jump-start a fire. You may want to go with a fire starter that ignites fast, sustaining heat for more than a couple of seconds. You may try priming paste, heat “nuggets”, dry tinder tucked in plastic bag or even lint trappings from household clothes dryer.
Don’t forget about the waterproof matches or the mechanical lighters. Either way, always bring some matches as plan B.
- Repair Kit and some tools
Even if you’re not the handy type, you need some sort of tools to fix an urgent problem. Either it’s a knife or a multitool; you do need something to prepare food with, to make kindling or to solve an emergency.
To give you a hint, a basic knife with at least 1 foldout blade, a can opener, some foldout scissors, 1 or 2 flathead screwdrivers should get you out of all sorts of problems. The more sophisticated your hiking trip is going to be, the more tools you’re going to need.
Throw in some duct tape also. You’ll never know when something goes wrong with your water bottle or trekking poles.
- First-Aid kit
No matter how careful you’re up there, some accidents may occur and you need to be ready for it. You may get a pre-assembled first-aid kit, but you may customize it according to your needs also.
You do need to include though something for the blisters, multiple gauze pads, over-the-counter pain medication, disinfecting ointment, and adhesive bandages of different sizes, pen and paper. Pack some nitrile gloves and compact guide to use for some medical emergencies.
- Sun Protection
You simply can’t hike without sunglasses, but you should also put on the list some extra-dark glacier glasses if a snow/ice trip is on your list. They should block 100% of the UVA and UVB light, to minimize risk for developing cataracts.
As for the sunscreen, you need one that offers at least 15SPF protection. If your trip is longer, get one with 30SPF protection for blocking better the UVA and UVB rays.
Get some sun-protection clothing that features ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). Lightweight and synthetic, this type of clothing is great for the sunny hiking.
- Nutrition and hydration
Play it safe and always pack an extra day’s worth of food. Either it’s a freeze-dried meal or a no-cook item with long storage time (nuts, dried fruits, and jerky), you need to keep your body warm on a cold night or this is the right way to do it.
As for the water, you should carry at least 1 water bottle and a collapsible water reservoir as well. Get some means to treat water (chemical treatment or filter) for the longer trips.
- Shelter for the emergency
Even though you plan to hike for one day, it’s not a bad idea to have an emergency shelter if you are injured, for instance.
A bivy sack, a lightweight tarp, even a space blanket or a large plastic trash bag may serve you well, so don’t hesitate to include it on your essential list.