There is hardly anything as fun and exciting as heading out into the great outdoors on a hiking excursion. Your foray will be filled with beautiful and unexpected sights, sounds and situations. This means you will want to pay extra attention to your planning and preparations to ensure the best experience and many happy memories.
To make sure you have all you will need in case of an emergency, you will want to follow a comprehensive checklist. There is hardly anything as unfortunate and educational as arriving in the great outdoors, facing important needs and not having the item you really need. It is even worse if you were to find yourself in an emergency and cannot avoid an imminent danger due to a lack of preparation.
There is hardly an accident or emergency that will occur on the trail that can’t be prevented with proper planning. Anything can happen, but the ingenuity of human-kind has given us the tools and contraptions to surmount the unexpected. You will be able to kick back in our great big yard knowing that you are prepared for anything and will make it back to the comfort of your home the better for your experience.
If you may be wondering what you will need to take on your hike, fret no more. The following list of valuable hiking materials will include all the essentials that you will need to bring on the trail. Here you will find copious information on the things you will need to face all the excitement and dangers in the great outdoors.
Once you stray from the beaten path, you will need a topographical map and a reliable compass to safely navigate the outdoors. These are lightweight items that will fit anywhere and have no need for battery power for accurate navigation. Even though a top map and compass can safely keep you from getting lost, they aren’t much good unless you fully understand how to apply their magic.
With this in mind, be sure to take some lessons on your next trip to the great outdoors. Bring along your topo map and compass and reconnoiter a well-practiced trail for the first time with your new skills. It is also recommended that you have a waterproof carry case to keep your map and compass safe and accurate.
Yes, you can use your GPS system if it suits you. Not only is this option 100% accurate, but it is also especially user-friendly. Be sure you take extra battery power so that you are never caught lost and without power. Finally, never allow your GPS unit to replace your conventional topo map and compass.
The backpack you choose will make or break the entire experience. It is worth considering a backpack that is both comfortable, well-balanced and strong enough to carry the load you will need.
Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing the outdoor gear for your needs.
- Weight – Your average hiking backpack shouldn’t weigh any more than two or three pounds when unpacked. If it weighs any more than this it will be unbearably heavy at the end of the trail.
- Construction – A backpack that falls apart on the trail is going to be a curse. Look for something with sturdy stitching and strong zippers. The stitching should withstand your best efforts to force it apart.
- Frames – you will need a strong and sturdy frame to keep the pack in good form over many miles. This support will allow you to maximize your efficiency and endurance on long hikes.
- Waterproofing – does it look like rain? Even if it doesn’t, a sudden shower of a drop into the water can make your hike very miserable if your pack is not waterproof.
- Storage Options– it helps to have a hiking backpack with a variety of compartments. This will allow you to always locate what you need in seconds.
Finally, the backpack you choose should make you feel comfortable and energized on the trail anything heavy and ungainly will bring you nothing but grief.
A neck wallet is a perfect thing for protecting your personal valuables while on a rough and rugged trail. It can be easily and discretely worn about the neck and be used to hold all the most important items you will need. This option here is perfect because it allows you to keep all your cards, cash, keys and even navigational maps while on the trail.
Do not underestimate the power of the sun to bring a strong but inexperienced hiker to their dying knees by the early afternoon. Your backpacking list should include the following items of solar protection.
- Sunscreen – not sun-tanning oil, you will burn to a crisp. You will need an SPF factor of higher than 30 to keep your skin safe and your body well hydrated during the long hike. You will need to apply this 15 minutes or more before your hike begins. Then, if you see you are sweating profusely or taking a swim, you will need to reapply this solar protection.
- Sunglasses – find a pair of sunglasses that offer good protection from the sun’s rays. Polarized sunglasses will keep you from the glare that can blind the eyes and make the long hike unpleasant.
- Lip Balm – the sun can do a number on the lips, but a good lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher will protect you all the time. Make sure to reapply this balm as often as you need.
- Clothing – if the heat is not too unbearable, consider wearing long sleeves. A good hat and long pants can offer more protections, Furthermore, choose a good hat that keeps the head cool and the neck and shoulders shaded too, if possible.
Final Note: these same laws apply if you will be hiking in the desert, salt flats, woodlands, prairies or snow. The sun can behave in different ways in different environments but it is always smart to carry more than sufficient protection.
You will be surprised how fast the temperatures can drop in the wilderness once night falls. It is strongly advised. We recommend a down hooded jacket be taken along for each trip into the great outdoors. No matter what the forecast says, there is no way to assume the weather will be good.
If you want to keep your feet comfortable and cool on the hike, nothing is better than wool socks these formidable footwear options don’t sink down into footwear as other fabrics can.
A bandana is a great thing to have on a hike. Not only can it keep the head protected from the rays of the sun, but it can also shield the face on a windy day. These are economic and handy options so why not select a color code for your team. Tie your bandana to your backpack and you are good to go.
Quick Dry Towel
Depending on where you will be headed you may have the chance to take a dip in a stream, lake or river. Be prepared by bringing along a small quick-dry towel. This can be easily attached to the backpack so it dries while you walk. Then, you can quickly put it back in your backpack and carry on with your hike.
Getting caught in the rain can be especially frustrating. If you want to avoid these rigors, consider taking things a little slower and pull out a windproof umbrella. This may actually make trekking in the rain a bit more comfortable.
Nothing will be as important as the choice of footwear you bring on your hike. It is equally important that your hiking boots be rugged, durable, waterproof and comfortable. This is especially true if you plan on walking in all terrain types with impunity.
Furthermore, you will get an even better walking experience if you deftly choose your footwear to match the season. Those thick winter boots that kept you so toasty while crunching through the snow, might actually be a bad idea for navigating a rugged desert in the heat of an October day.
Then always assume you will get wet, whether it actually rains, or you simply slip into a pool of water you will need to keep your feet dry and your boots protected.
Finally, make sure your boots fit properly and are comfortable for extended journeys. If you have recently bought hiking boots, wear them out and around town, before you actually hit the trails. This way they will be comfortable when you hit the trails.
It is often that when spring comes around you feel the itch for going on a hike. This is where crampons and gaiters can be of great help. When hiking in the snow, crampons have little spikes that can help. Gaiters are what can prevent snow from getting inside your shoes. Hiking with wet socks can be quite uncomfortable.
When your hiking backpacking trip is going to last for several days, you must have a shelter in your backpack. But even if you are hiking just for the day, we recommend that you carry a small emergency shelter that is light in weight, just so that you are sheltered if you do need to spend a night in the outdoors.
Bivys and emergency blankets are lightweight, options that are affordable, and can be lifesavers if you are in a bad spot.
Cooking and Meals
You can be ready to cook on the trail if you include these items in your checklist for hiking gear:
- Portable stove and fuel in a gas can or propane
- Cooking pots and proper utensils
- Plates and utensils for using while eating
- Ziplock or vacuum packaging materials
- Storage bags, foil, and plastic tubs
Take along food items that can be easily carried and consumed. These must include foods that will give you the energy that you need for hiking. These foods must be part of your backpacking gear:
- Whole grain energy bars
- Food and dehydrated meat that can be cooked on a portable stove
- Canned vegetables, fruits, and meats
- Dried meats, fruits, and vegetables
- Peanut or almond butter
All these foods will give you energy through the proteins and also have fiber in them besides other things. See that you organize everything before you pack them so that they can be easily located.
Make sure that everything is fresh so that you can avoid sickness. Food can be stored in vacuum bags that collapse and form small packages that can be fitted easily into a backpack.
When you are on the trail, you must be always well hydrated. The critical body systems need water for running properly. Water cools you down when you are hot, warms you up when you are cold, and helps to keep the joints and muscles working properly so that you can avoid injury while hiking.
You must carry enough water for the duration that you plan to hike or carry a light-weight water purifier to use from water sources that you must locate beforehand along the route of your hike. Four liters of water, one gallon, is what a person needs every 24 hours. Water must be easily accessible through hydration bladders or water bottles so that drinking water is easy while you are hiking.
Remember, that while water is important while hiking, it is also the heaviest thing that you will carry on the trail. So avoid carrying extra water. That is the reason you need to carry lightweight water purifiers that are reliable so that your supply of water can be replenished whenever necessary.
Personal Care Items
Even when you go out in the wild, you do need to carry out sanitary functions. Your backpacking gear must include any personal care times that are needed for daily hygiene, like:
- Toilet paper
- Feminine hygiene products
- Bags that can secure and handle waste, including any medical waste
- Shampoos and soaps
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste
Any bags that you use for handling waste must be properly secured and then carefully disposed of. Human waste breaks down over time, but even so, it must be kept from contaminating any water sources that others may need to use. So it is best if you take care of your private affairs away from the water.
You can always carry a portable shower. It will be connected to a tank, and the water in your tank must be clean and safe for use.
When you are in the backcountry, you can get ill, if you have dirty hands. The reason for this is that many hikers forget to use proper hygiene habits once they are on the trail.
This is an issue that can easily be avoided through the use of hand sanitizer in a small container that you must use when you go for bathroom breaks, or before you prepare your meals.
Carry a reliable headlamp whenever you are on a hiking trip, even if you do not plan to be out after dark. Hikes at times can last longer than you anticipate, and if you do get lost in the dark, it will only make the situation worse.
So if you find you are in the backcountry and unexpectedly, daylight is fading, a headlamp can help you to find your way home.
Most of us carry our phones while hiking, and most of them have built-in flashlights that can be a good backup light source. Test your headlamp batteries before you start on your hike.
Firstaid Kit and Whistle
A lot of things can go wrong when you are hiking, whether you believe it or not. You need to be prepared for blisters, cuts, splinters, and other blunders that you can treat with a well-stocked first aid kit. This kit needs to be lightweight and carried in your daypack so that you can easily access it in an emergency.
If you get injured or are stranded, a whistle can serve as a lifeline. Whistles must be loud and three short bursts can serve as a signal to hikers or others who are nearby, that you are needing help. Three bursts are necessary so that your whistles are not confused with the calls and hoots of birds in the area. Keep repeating your three-toot call every now and then until you get the help you need.
You are outdoors and there will be bugs, but do not let them spoil the fun you are having. Carry some long-lasting bug spray that can help to keep away mosquitoes, biting flies, ticks, gnats and chiggers whose bites can be nasty. Your bug spray should last you for at least 8 hours and protect you against mosquitoes.
Waterproof Fire Starter
This is a piece of hiking gear that is not obvious, but it worthwhile bringing it for emergencies.
When you are mountaineering, jet boils can stop working, or if there is the need for emergency fire, a lightweight fire starter can be the best tool to have, as you do not have to worry about it getting wet, and this lightweight fire starter can be used for about 12000 strikes. It is an item that I always carry with me.
Repair Kit & Tools
Carry a lightweight multi-tool basic repair kit when you go on a hike. Multi-tool knives can be of great use in many situations, and you will find a use for it all times when you are on the trail. Other excellent tools can be duct and Tenacious tape for making repairs to gear, so it is best to carry small amounts of them when you are hiking.
A tenacious tape can easily fox punctures in sleeping pads, tears in tent fabric, rips in sleeping bags, and puffy coat holes among others. Duct tape acts for all-round repairs and you can splint a broken tent pole, repair your sunglasses, and it can even be of use when you feel a hot spot on your foot and want to prevent a blister.
Trekking poles are not essential items when hiking, but hikers prefer to carry them along for many reasons. They reduce the impact on the knees and can help to increase stability, which can be of great benefit when long sections of the trail are downhill or uphill, or you need to get across rivers.
You can also use these poles as tent poles support for ultralight shelters, and this can reduce the weight you need to carry on long-distance trips.
Personal Locator Beacon
This gear, a PLB, can make you feel safe when you are hiking. It is a satellite communicator and can be a lifesaver when you are in a dangerous situation or send text messages when you have moved out of cellular range.
These beacons are costly and you may also need to pay a monthly service charge for maintaining the communications. This expense can however act as a lifesaver. It is highly recommended for women who go on solo hikes in the backcountry.
When you are on a solo hike carry bear spray been in areas that have no bears, as it can come in handy if you are attacked by other men. Solo hiking needs you to be always aware of your surroundings and any dangers.
Carry a camera or your phone to capture the events on your hike.
Some hiking trails require you to have a permit, and you must print it out, or go to the ranger station and pick it up before you start your hike.
Flares and Signals
Flares and signaling items can be of great help when you get lost. A hike in the woods will mean trees that make it difficult for rescuers or other hikers to find you. Flares can be sen for miles. Carrying a two-way radio or emergency radio can also be of great help in these situations.
Follow these checklists so that your backpacking gear can help you to get the most out of your outdoor trips. Be careful when preparing your checklist. Cross of items from the list as you add them to the backpack. Being prepared is vital to safety and your enjoyment of the wild.
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