Planning on hitting the trails? Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or a first-time hiker, having proper hiking gear is crucial. There are only so many things you can predict when embarking on a hiking journey, so it’s best to be prepared for everything. Whether you’re planning a multi-day hiking excursion through the mountains or an arduous trek through the cloud forests and jungles, these ten essentials should definitely find their place on your hiking checklist.
The kind of clothes you pack for a hike will largely depend on the weather conditions, so be sure to check the weather forecast and pack accordingly. The shirts and underwear you pack should be made from moisture-wicking fabrics, while shorts and pants need to be made from quick-drying material. A long-sleeve shirt may come in handy in case it gets colder or you simply need an extra layer of protection against sun or bugs. Cotton garments are impractical for hiking trips, so it’s better to stick with synthetic fabrics. Be sure to pack extra clothes just in case.
Aside from multiple clothing pieces, you’ll also need to bring some additional layers for insulation. Again, this will depend on the region you’re hiking in and its average temperatures. A lightweight jacket is a great option for warmer regions, while places with a colder climate require insulated vests and down hooded jackets. As for the add-ons, a bandana will provide shade on sunny days, while a warm cap and a pair of gloves and a scarf will keep you cosy in colder weather.
Because you’ll be spending a lot of time on your feet, you need to make sure that both your socks and your footwear are comfortable (although socks are even more important than shoes). Quality women's socks made from bamboo viscose are an ideal option for long hiking trips. The hypoallergenic, thermo-regulating material allows the skin to breathe and keeps your feet dry, comfortable, and blister-free during the hike. As for the footwear, make sure that your shoes are suited to the terrain. Choose hiking boots rather than hiking shoes for longer trips – they'll give your ankles better support and protect your legs from bites and scrapes.
Sun protection is a must even in cold, cloudy weather. You’ll be walking most of the time, so you want to make sure that your face and body are protected from harsh UV rays. Pack sunscreen and lip balm to ward off sunburns and chapped lips, and make sure you bring polarized sunglasses together with a retainer leash to protect your eyes as well. A wide-brimmed hat will ensure your head is protected from the harshness of the sun, while sun-protective clothing will help provide an additional layer of protection from ultraviolet rays.
Some trekkers don’t really understand their purpose while others swear by them – hiking poles seem to be one hiking tool that splits walkers’ opinion. Most of the time they’re referred to a hiking essential, but it all boils down to your personal needs. Trekking poles help reduce the stress on the knees and feet, and they can definitely come in handy when you’re carrying a heavy backpack. They’re also useful for stream crossings and snowy trails, and they can even be used to support a shelter. However, they won’t be of much use to you if you don’t have a proper technique and you also won’t be able to use your hands for anything else, which is a drawback to some people.
No one wants to be left in the wilderness without being able to use their mobile device, especially in case of emergency. To prevent that from happening, make sure you get a quality portable battery charger that will keep your smart device powered and running for days. This is especially important because our phones tend to give up on us in situations when we need them most. Look for a compact and practical power bank you can easily fit in your backpack so you can have a reliable companion with you at all times.
These are another two items we can’t imagine a backpacking adventure without. Trusty navigation devices, a compass and a map won’t fail you in times when you need them the most. You don’t have to worry about them running out of batteries, and they’re so practical and lightweight that they can fit into any backpack without any problems. However, before heading on a backpacking trip, be sure you learn how to use them properly. They will help you stay on your path or help you find a way back if you stray away.
First aid supplies are a must for anyone thinking about taking a hiking trip. Lightweight and pre-packaged, they can come in handy in case of any minor ailments and injuries, but remember that you’ll need to restock the first aid kit items you use while on the trek. You’ll become more in touch with your personal needs as your trail experience grows, and you’ll be able to make a selection of the items you actually need and use.
Another thing you can’t do without while on foot is a sturdy water bottle. Staying hydrated while trekking is crucial, and you’ll need around 4 litres of water for a day. Of course, bringing excessive amounts of water bottles will make your backpack heavier, so you might want to consider a lightweight alternative such as a water purifier. You can use it to clean the water you find on your route and ensure your body is properly hydrated.
Nutrition is another important aspect you’ll need to consider when preparing for a hiking trip. Go for calorie-dense foods such as granola bars, nuts, dried fruits, and jerky to keep your body fueled, and be sure to pack a couple of sandwiches as well. Freeze-dried meals make for great trek food, and so do dehydrated meals. Your safest bet would be to use a calorie calculator and see how much food you need to pack.
When heading for a hike, there are a couple of essentials that can make it easier, safer, and overall more enjoyable. Refer to this guide next time you’re planning a hiking trip to ensure you’ve got everything you need for a fun-filled adventure in the wilderness.