Whether it’s a short day hike or a multi-day trek in the wilderness, carrying the proper equipment is critical to the success of any outdoor adventure. What gear and supplies to pack will depend on the type of trip you’ll be embarking on, but for the most part, the essentials are pretty much the same. For beginning hikers, it is often necessary to make a hiking checklist especially for the first few trips since you may not be exactly sure of what to bring yet.
It can be rather frustrating to get a mile or two into the walk and then suddenly realize that you forgot your water bottle or rain jacket. So to help make your pre-trip preparations easier, we have here an outline of the hiking gear list that you should take on your next trail adventure.
No matter how well-traveled or deserted your hiking destination may be, it is always a good idea to bring along some navigational tools to help you get back on track in case you veer off the path. There are several types of navigational tools available for those who are just getting started with hiking, from paper maps and field guides to handheld GPS devices and phone apps, and more.
Regardless of which device you choose to bring, make sure that you have a basic understanding of how they work and how to use them. Carrying a map and a compass won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to read them. So brush up on your map and compass reading skills or take some lessons on how to use a GPS if necessary. By the way, if you’re planning to use a GPS device or a phone app, be sure that it is fully charged and bring extra batteries where applicable. And even if you already have these devices, consider bringing a map and a compass all the same. These old-school navigational tools are nearly fool-proof and don’t require any batteries.
Hikers usually find themselves exposed to the sun more often than they like. Needless to say, over-exposure (even on overcast days) can lead to a variety of health problems, including dehydration, skin cancer, or a bad case of sunburn. To keep such problems at bay, always wear sun-protective clothing and lather on a generous amount of sunscreen and SPF-rated lip balms (to avoid cracked and bleeding lips). Oh, and forget about those sunscreen pills since there’s very little evidence to support their effectiveness against sun damage.
If you plan your hiking adventure late in the day (whatever your reason may be for doing so), you should always bring with you a reliable LED flashlight or headlamp just to make sure that you can find your way along the trail when the sun goes down. In fact, you should always bring a flashlight whether you start early or late because you never know when a trip may take longer than expected, and getting lost in the dark in the wilderness can quickly compound into a dire situation.
When choosing a flashlight, choose one that is small and lightweight (you don’t want to add any more ounces to an already heavy backpack). Also, be sure to test your equipment before your hike and bring extra batteries just in case.
First Aid Supplies
Most hiking trails are generally safe, though this doesn’t mean that you can trot along carelessly along. There are still plenty of things out there that can lead to certain injuries (e.g. sprained ankles) such as rocks, gnarled tree roots, rotting logs, and many others.
This is why you’ll want to carry with you a small yet comprehensive hiking first aid kit whenever you travel. This should contain everything you’ll need to treat minor wounds and injuries such as bandages, rubbing alcohol, pain medication, and others. Also, don’t forget to pack along any prescription medications that you are taking.
You can get pre-packaged first aid kits from most outdoor gear retail stores, or you can put together a hiking first aid kit and fill it with items that will best serve your personal needs. Also, be sure to brush up on your emergency first aid skills since the best kits in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to use them.
Repair Kits and Tools
While roughing it out in the wilderness, it is normal for some of your gear and items to get damaged or broken. For instance, you may find yourself with a broken trekking pole, a snapped shoelace, a falling sole, or a torn backpack. When these happen, you’ll need a few tools and repair kits to fix them.
Many hikers always bring with them a small and lightweight multi-tool for hiking when they head out. These come with most of the things you need to make minor fixes on hiking and camping gear. These multi-tools also have knives, but if you find them too small or unreliable, then you can bring a small pocket or fixed-blade knife. Knives are important items since you can use them for just about anything, from making kindling for emergency fire, opening food packets and cutting food, and getting yourself out of a dangerous situation.
You should also bring along a roll of duct tape and a tube of super glue. These are great all-around repair kits that can be used for just about anything, from repairing broken tent poles to attaching a falling sole back to your shoes.
Many beginning hikers often underestimate how much food they need to bring to a hiking trip. After all, more food in your backpack means more weight to carry. Besides, you’ll be back just in time for lunch which you plan to take in that diner you passed by on the way to the trail entrance.
What many hikers don’t understand is that hiking is not just a stroll in the park. It is still a form of exercise and will burn more calories than you think, especially with a relatively heavy hiking backpack on your back. That said, you need to eat to keep your body going if you plan to walk for a few hours.
Choose foods and snacks that are nutritious and calorie-dense to provide your body with the energy and fuel you need for the hike. Some foods to bring along are energy bars, dried fruits, and nuts. If you’re planning to have lunch along the trail, pack some sandwiches, tortillas, or even a smokehouse double bacon burger with large fries (or two – hiking can really zap some serious energy out of your system).
It is absolutely critical to keep your body well-hydrated while on the trail, so make sure that you bring enough to last you for the duration of your hiking trip. You can substitute water with energy drinks packed with electrolytes and other minerals if you’re feeling fatigued or nauseous.
Although water is an essential item that you should never go hiking without, carrying several liters of water (an average person needs to consume about 4 liters) can be quite burdensome. A solution to this would be to bring some portable water purification and filtration systems on your hike. These come in several varieties like pumps, filters, chemicals and tablets, and more. With these in your bag, you can basically purify water from streams or rivers you pass by and make them safe to drink.
Backpack / Day Pack
Whether you’re headed for a three-mile hike in your local park or a ten-mile loop in the nearest national forest reserve, you’ll need a backpack or a daypack that can fit all your hiking essentials.
Choosing a backpack or day pack is generally a matter of personal preference, but there are certain things that you need to consider. For one, your pack should fit you comfortably. If you’re not sure how to size and fit a backpack according to your body dimensions, you can always ask for help from the experts at your local outdoor gear and equipment shop. Durability is also an important factor since you don’t want to end up with a broken strap in the middle of the hike. Also, you need to decide on the backpack features that you’ll want to have like hydration bladders, external pockets, fabric material, and others.
A successful and enjoyable hiking trip will depend on a lot of things, one of which is having the right clothes on your back. Even if you’re just spending a few hours on the trail, wearing the appropriate clothing is still key. For short hikes though, you really don’t need any specialized hiking clothes, and you already probably have some decent hiking clothes in your closet.
For instance, if you’re a gym buff you probably have one of those dry-fit shirts. These shirts, usually made from synthetic fibers, are excellent day hiking clothes since they are breathable and have moisture-wicking abilities, two features that will help keep you dry and cool while hiking. If the weather’s quite cold, wear a synthetic or fleece long-sleeve shirt, and if the weather forecast mentions the possibility of rain, pack along a rain jacket just in case it does happen.
As for pants, you can wear lightweight hiking pants when it’s cold or a pair of shorts when it’s particularly warm outside. If you don’t want to buy pants and shorts separately, you can get hiking pants with zip-off bottoms which you can turn into shorts at a moment’s notice.
Hiking Boots or Trail Shoes
Hiking boots have various features that you won’t find in other ordinary boots or shoes. For one, they have high collars which provide added support and helps prevent ankle injuries. They also have specially designed treads which reduces the chances of slipping. Besides, these are made from high-quality materials that can withstand lots of abuse on the trail. If you’re planning to make hiking a regular activity, be sure to invest in a good pair of hiking boots.
For a short day hike though, you can do with a pair of trail shoes. Day hikers like these because they are lightweight and comfortable and they also dry much quicker than thick hiking boots. But then, they don’t have high collars which means that you won’t get as much support for your ankles as you would when you wear hiking boots. Nonetheless, for a short day hike on almost flat terrain, a good pair of trail shoes should be able to get you through your journey.
By the way, be sure to break in your hiking boots or shoes before you take them hiking. You can do this by taking a walk along with your neighborhood or at the park while wearing them.
As mentioned earlier, hikers should always take care to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. So in addition to putting on sunscreen and an SPF-rated lip balm, don’t forget to wear a sun hat whenever you hit the trail. It is generally recommended to choose a hat with a wide brim to protect your face and the back of your neck. Also, look for a hat with a mesh ventilation system and a wicking Hydrofil sweatband to keep your head cool. If you want to go a little further, look for a sun hat made from UPF-rated material with a tight-weave fabric. It may sound a bit too much for a short day hike, but there are benefits of wearing sun-protective clothing such as a UPF-rated sun hat when you’re out hiking.
Although not really considered as a hiking gear essential, experts recommend that you always bring a pair of sunglasses when you’re hiking to reduce glare and protect your eyes from sun damage. Although most regular sunglasses will do, consider buying a pair of hiking sunglasses as this offers better protection for your eyes.
Aside from style and design, several other things need to be considered when choosing a pair of hiking sunglasses. For instance, if you want excellent protection from wind and rain (aside from the sun), then you may want to go for a “wrap around” design. Also, you may want to look for hiking sunglasses with rubberized contact points to ensure they don’t slip around while you’re scrambling over rocks.
Being out in the wilderness doesn’t mean that you can forget proper hygiene while hiking or camping. In fact, many of the health issues (particularly gastrointestinal problems) are caused by dirty hands. Fortunately, this is pretty easy to avoid. Simply stash a small bottle of hand sanitizer in one of the external pockets of your backpack and remember to use it after bathroom breaks, handling rocks, wildlife, or plants, and more especially before preparing meals.
Many beginning hikers don’t fully understand the importance of having a pair of reliable trekking poles, and as such prefer not to get one and simply use any stick they could grab along the trail. However, there are certain reasons why many pro hikers use them. For instance, quality trekking poles are designed to help reduce the impact on the knees and increase stability, which is especially beneficial when going on long uphill or downhill treks or when fording rivers. If you are planning to make hiking a regular hobby, it would be a wise idea to invest in a quality trekking pole as early as now.
Emergency Shelter and Supplies
Although short day hikes are generally safe, certain accidents can still happen which may cause you to miss your return trip back home. When the worst happens, you’ll want to make sure that you can confidently survive a night out in the wilderness. This is why many pro hikers often carry with them a small emergency shelter even if they don’t plan on spending the night on the trail.
Most hikers will bring a compact and lightweight sleeping bag when hitting the trail. These sleeping bags are often enough to allow them to sleep comfortably outdoors without freezing. But don’t just go buying the smallest sleeping bag you see because certain considerations must be taken into account when buying a sleeping bag. Some hikers will even bring a small tarp and some ropes, which can be helpful if you’re hiking during the rainy seasons.
Aside from those, don’t forget to pack a box of matches or a fire starter as well for making an emergency campfire. Be sure to keep them dry by putting them in a small Ziploc or waterproof bag.
Globo Surf Overview
Going on a hiking adventure, even if it’s just a short one, is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the urban jungle. But before you drive to the trail, make sure that you have everything you need in your backpack. A missing item or two can really ruin the moment, and to avoid this make sure that you refer to the hiking checklist above while packing your things. When you’ve ticked every item mentioned above, you can hit the trail without having to worry that you forgot something and thus focus on the journey ahead.