Are you a beginner getting ready for your first hike? If you want to maximize your experience and make sure nothing goes wrong, preparation is the key to your trip. It doesn’t matter if you are going for a hike that will last for a single day, or you plan to spend the night under the blue sky. Some items will always have to find a place in your hiking backpack. Let’s take a look at their list.
1. Always Know Where You Are
The first thing you need to ensure is that you are always aware of your current location. Getting lost can lead to serious problems in finding your way back to civilization, which is why you should be smart.
Now, your phone may be equipped with a GPS tracker, but can you rely on it in the forest or deep into the mountains? Even if it works, smartphones only have limited batteries, and an empty phone is useless.
That is why you should be ready to go old-school and use a navigation system people have been using for centuries. That’s right – we are talking about a map and a compass. First, you will need an updated map of the area that is as accurate as possible. The chances are you can find it online or in a local souvenir store. Make sure to get familiar with the map before you head on a hike. It may be useful when planning your route.
Additionally, you will need a working compass, as well as the knowledge to use it. In essence, a compass should show you which way is north so that you can read the map properly.
2. Do Not Risk Being Without Water
Hydration is essential even when you are home, but especially if you are long from a safe water source. While you are hiking, you have two options to stay hydrated.
The first one is to take enough water for the entire planned duration of your hike (and a bit extra just in case). That means you should bring about half a gallon per person for a single day hike, although you may need more if it is hot outside. The problem with this approach is that it can make your backpack heavy, which means you will be spending more energy when hiking.
Alternatively, you can use a special filtration bottle that can filter the water from a natural water source. You should always be careful when drinking water from ponds, streams, or rivers. However, a high-quality filtration system can eliminate all bacteria and other harmful compounds to make the water safe to drink.
3. A Snack Bar to Boost Your Energy
If you are planning for the hike to last an entire day, you need to ensure to keep the energy levels up. It would be wise to prepare a healthy snack bar or two to get a protein boost when you need it. The energy bars used in the gym are an excellent choice, but you can also go with almonds and other nuts, as well as dried fruit or jerky.
Depending on the duration of your trip, it may be smart to pack a sandwich or two, too. It can especially come in handy if you know you will be out the whole day. And who knows, you may end up spending the night in nature after all, which is why it is always wise to pack a bit extra of your favorite grub.
4. Warm and Comfortable Clothes
When it comes to clothes, you should always consider the weather conditions. If you know it will be warm and sunny; you should aim to be comfortable. But if you are expecting low temperature, you want to ensure you stay warm at all times.
The principle you should apply when packing your clothes is that it is always better to be safe than sorry. If there is an indication that the weather could take a turn for the worse, you should be ready for it. Insulation is key to keep yourself warm, and you should consider taking a rain jacket with you. It may be bulky and difficult to pack, but if it starts raining, it will be the item that protects you. Additionally, a waterproof hat may be a smart choice.
5. The Importance of Breathable and Waterproof Socks
Believe it or not, footwear is an essential part of your equipment. First of all, there is nothing worse than uncomfortable socks that make your feet sweat. That can ruin the entire hiking experience in a second. Additionally, socks are the last line of defense in keeping your feet dry when it is raining.
That is why you should consider buying Dexshell waterproof socks. They were specially designed for outdoor activities, and the manufacturer used premium quality materials, such as Merino wool and Porelle membrane.
6. Protect Yourself Against Sunburns
If you have ever been skiing and suffered facial sunburns even though the temperature was below zero, you know why sunscreen should find its place in every hiker’s backpack. The weather can be deceiving, especially when you are out in the open.
It might be cloudy, and the Sun may appear for only a couple of minutes every hour. Alternatively, it may be cold but sunny, and you might not feel the Sun burning your skin. However, once you get back home, you will feel sunburns in the evening or the next day.
Bringing a sunscreen and applying it regularly can protect you against these problems. When we say regularly, we are talking at least a couple of times a day, as if you are on a beach. Additionally, you may want to consider a lip balm to avoid cracked lips from the wind.
7. Prepare Like You Are Going to Spend the Night
You may think this is unnecessary, but allow us to remind you that you are going into nature. You can never predict what will happen. What if you get too far away from the city to get back on time? What if you like it so much that you decide to spend the night? Perhaps a storm starts, and you need an emergency shelter.
That is why you should prepare like you are going to spend the night under the blue sky. It is vital to take a warm blanket with you so that you don’t end up sleeping on the ground. If you do not want to burden your backpack too much, look for a lightweight option, but make sure it can keep you warm.
8. Always Be Ready to Light Your Path
As we mentioned, you may miscalculate how long it takes to return to the city. Before you know it, it may start getting dark. That is why it is vital to take a flashlight or a headlamp with you. Yes, your smartphone may be equipped with a lamp, but you can’t rely on it because it depends on the battery duration.
A headlamp might be the most practical option because it allows you to keep your hands free while lighting the path in front of you. However, even a flashlight can serve for illumination when there are no other options. These are handy gadgets that you may need during the day, too. After all, you never know when you might encounter a dark part of the forest, or see a nearby cave that would be cool to explore.
9. Do You Know How to Light a Fire?
Nature can be unpredictable, and the weather can be sunny one minute, and take a turn for the worse the next one. If it is cold, you might want to light a fire to warm up. Additionally, you can use fire to cook some food.
The process of lighting a fire will depend on your skills. If you want to go into a survival mode, a fire flint may be useful. However, this is an area where you may want to prefer convenience. Taking a couple of lighters, matches, and cubes to start the fire is the smart way to go.
10. First-Aid Supply
The last item on our list is equally important as any other we mentioned. You never know when something may go wrong during a hike. You or your friends may suffer from an injury, such as a cut. In those cases, having a first-aid supply allows you to provide the necessary help on the spot. Make sure that your first-aid kit is always up to date and equipped with everything you may need.
Bonus – Other Items to Consider
Apart from what we mentioned, here are some other items to consider putting into your hiking backpack:
- A repair kit – Swiss army knife, and duct tape can be vital for repairing any rips in your backpack or jacket.
- Sunglasses – they will prevent eye strain from watching into the Sun and reduce glare in snowy conditions.
- Toilet essentials – the list may include hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and a trowel, depending on your needs.
- Trekking poles – they can decrease knee impact and improve stability during long hikes.
- Personal info tag – it may be wise to carry a tag with your personal information, and data regarding the medications you are using and potential allergic reactions to others.
We hope that you now feel ready for your first hike and that you know how to pack wisely. The only remaining thing to do is to start packing and planning your next hiking route!