While we are deep in the throes of the fall season, the weather is still nice enough to try to do some fun outdoorsy activities, like hiking. Whether you’re new to hiking or a seasoned pro, it’s always useful to brush up on the equipment and necessities you need to help you best enjoy the sport. Besides, there’s always an element of innovation in the sports and outdoor gear market, so it pays to be up to date on the new essentials that show up in stores. At the same time, the market can feel a bit overwhelming, so here we’ve narrowed down your hiking essentials to the top four things every enthusiast should own. If there’s anything in this article you don’t have, then run, don’t walk to your nearest sports specialty shop, and purchase it right away.
The first thing you definitely need as a hiker is an excellent backpack. A regular school backpack won’t do in this case, no matter how many textbooks it may carry. When hiking, the backpack should be comfortable and easy to carry as you wind your way through complex hiking trails. It also should have a big storage capacity, and lots of compartments to help keep things organized. Ideally, you should be able to reach into your backpack at any point in your trek to grab snacks, your water bottle, or what have you without it being a huge hassle. You need to focus on the trail ahead and continue to put one foot in front of the other, and an unwieldy bag isn’t going to make your journey any easier.
If you plan to go out hiking for a few days rather than just an afternoon, then your choice of backpack becomes ever more important. You will need a large backpack that has a variety of different compartments and an even bigger storage capacity than usual so that you can stow away everything you need in the most organized way possible. The shoulder straps should also come with extra padding so that you’re not under tremendous strain carrying around a heavy backpack day in and day out.
2. The Proper Shoes
Of course, what you wear as you’re hiking is incredibly important, especially if you’re planning to go camping and hike for a few days in a row. Your feet especially need to be comfortable, and the shoes should prove to be durable and able to weather difficult climates. Hiking boots or trekking sandals when it’s really hot are absolutely vital because they allow you to walk longer distances without the attendant pain. When you’re out hiking you simply want to enjoy the great outdoors and breathe fresh air, not deal with painful blisters, unsightly corns, and so on. The shoes should fit well, feel cushiony with extra padding, and offer excellent arch support while being of durable material. Since you’ll be spending a lot of time with them, they will definitely be worth the investment and will help you meet the difficulties of the trail head-on.
3. Skin Protectors
Even if it’s not particularly sunny, you need to apply sunblock whenever you decide to go hiking. You will be spending long hours outdoors, so you should take extra precautions to protect your skin. This is especially important if you have sensitive skin and suffer from conditions like rosacea, or are actually allergic to the sun and may break out in hives or get hyperpigmentation if you spend long hours outside. In any case, you definitely don’t want to deal with a painful sunburn when you should be enjoying yourself, so always be sure to carry some sunblock – preferably mineral and not chemical – with you at all times. Always reapply every hour or so, even if the weather is cold and you’re convinced you don’t need it. Your skin will thank you.
The other form of protection you absolutely need when out hiking, regardless of whether or not you plan to be on the trails for only a few hours or a few days, is insect repellant. Mosquito bites are awful to deal with, especially because you’re bound to get more than one or two bites – when you’re out in nature you’ll find yourself dealing with more than ten at a time. There are also other kinds of bugs like wasps that might bite you when you least expect it, so be sure to spray your skin with some repellant. Insect bites will absolutely ruin your trip, and if you’re in an area wherein the risk of malaria is quite high, then you should be prepared. You can also take the extra step of treating your clothes with permethrin to help protect you from diseases carried by mosquitoes.
Some people fool themselves into thinking that they have an excellent sense of direction, but a sense won’t do you much good when you’re out in the middle of nowhere. You will need to have a reliable compass to help you navigate the hiking trail, along with a map. If you end up going off the beaten path without meaning to, you may find yourself in a dangerous situation. So, having a compass is extremely important.
Also, before starting on the hiking trail, be sure to visit the park’s information office for a map, since it will clearly point out the areas you need to steer clear from. Those maps, along with a compass, will help ensure that even if you end up getting a bit lost while on your adventure, you can safely find your way back. While of course, you can use your phone in case of emergency, you still need to know how to use a compass since your battery can die and may have difficulty getting yourself out of a jam.
Hiking is a wonderful activity, and it’s easy to understand why people gravitate towards it as soon as the weather warms even a smidge. However, the lack of adequate tools and gear will impinge upon your capacity to properly enjoy your time outdoors, so it pays to get what you need and remain prepared.
Last Updated on November 2, 2021