You wish to have an adventurous life and wonder where to start from? Start from Hiking and let us help you with the hiking essentials.
First Step: Make a bucket list for yourself.
Second Step: Stick to it.
Third Step: Start packing.
Fourth Step: Start with hiking. (Because we are writing about it)
Now that you have agreed to start with hiking, you need to know the hiking essentials you need to carry with you. Jokes apart, research says that hiking is a good exercise for your health. Hiking lowers the risk of heart disease as it is a very powerful cardio workout.
Hiking also has a positive impact on the symptoms of stress and anxiety
So let’s start with the hiking essentials!
Philosophically, you are never lost when you are hiking. But practically, if you are lost, you are LOST! That probably will not be the best way to hike. This is the hiking essential without which hiking isn’t possible. There are plenty of navigation tools available for hiking.
A map is the oldest and the most reliable navigation tool. Why not? It doesn’t need an internet connection to work or a battery life. It is in front of you and doesn’t even need a buffering time. One thing that you should keep in mind is that map quality varies widely, which means it is better you carry two-three maps with you. A hiking-specific map will only show you the route for hiking even if it intersects with many other trails like snow, ski and fire lines. So carry a back up with you that gives you a clear picture.
A compass is a navigation tool that shows direction relative to the geographic cardinal directions. It is not tough to use a compass.
A compass is for you to know in which direction to move. It will not tell you where you are or which way you have been travelling. For knowing about your location, you have to use GPS.
Here is something that can help you understand more about a compass.
Gaia Navigation App (iPhone or Android)
Gaia is a navigation app that is available on iPhone or Android phones. This application is very easy to use. You can download maps and use them offline in Gaia. The beauty of carrying a smartphone navigation app is that it weighs nothing since you will be carrying your phone anyway.
Since you will be constantly on the go, you don’t want your colour to change constantly. Continuous exposure to the sun can give you sunburn which is not good obviously. When looking for sunblock, focus mostly on the sun protection factor (SPF) and not the colour of the sunblock. Sunscreens that are dermatologically approved and has SPF 55 should be a correct choice for hikers. Neutrogena offers a sunscreen that is perfect for any skin type and is not oily too.
If you are hiking in winters, insulation is the key to survival. Layer your body with clothes. Gloves, socks, thermals and windcheater jackets will help you survive those chilly winds and maintain your body temperature. Winters can be really harsh and if your body temperature is not in your favour, breathing can be a fight.
First-aid is not only a hiking essential, it is essential for anywhere travel. You never know when your luck gives up on you and you need aid for yourself. First-aid is a hiking essential that will save you from getting infected or will save you from inflammation. Make a checklist for yourself as to what to fill your first aid kit with.
- Antiseptic wipes
- Antibacterial ointment
- Assorted adhesive bandages
- Butterfly bandages / adhesive wound-closure strips
- Nonstick sterile pads
- Medical adhesive tape
- Treatment for blisters
- Pain-relief medication
- Anti-itch treatment in case of an insect bite
- Antihistamine to treat allergic reactions
- Oral rehydration salts
- Glucose or other sugar
- Lubricating eye drops
- Diarrhoea medication
By talking about repair kits we want you to know that there might be emergencies and you should be prepared for it. Keep these hiking essentials for a safe journey.
- Duct tape (this can fix anything, maybe one day it will fix the rare hole on the lunar surface)
- Knife (Self defence or maybe to cut the duct tape because nothing else can)
- Stretch cords with hooks (to hold your pants up maybe)
- Safety pins (in case of pant emergencies)
- Sewing repair kit (If safety pins give up)
- Mattress-repair parts or kit (because obviously, you want to sleep properly)
- Stove-repair parts or kit (food is life guys, food is life)
- Extra buckles and cord locks (oh common! just bring it)
Fire in the soul and fire for heat, both are equally important. One is needed to reach the finish line and the other is important for surviving cold winter nights. Always make sure that you carry both with you; also some fire igniters.
This might help you understand better what we mean.
If you are a foodie, you would have kept enough food for yourself and maybe this is the first thing that you would have packed. If not, think like one for while. You need enough snacks with you, there might not be five-star restaurants in the woods. Keep ready-to-eat food with you. Foods that are relatively lightweight and nutrient dense, should be carried along. For eg. :
- Nuts, seeds, nut-based bars or nut butter packs
- Dried or freeze-dried fruits and veggies
- Energy bars
- Granola bars
- Ready-made tuna salad pouches
- Whole-grain tortillas
- Poultry, salmon or meat jerky
Keep yourself hydrated and pee a lot. Proper hydration is important for cellular metabolism, blood flow and our physical performance. Lack of water in your body can lead to muscle cramps, headaches, fatigue, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Water cools down your body temperature and blood pressure and maintains the pH of your body.
You might not be able to find purified water everywhere when you are hiking but there will be streams that you don’t know originate from where. You definitely do not want to miss a chance of letting that water go because it is unhygienic. No, we are not telling you to drink unhygienic water. We are telling you to take water purification pills along with you. The active ingredient in water purification tablets is typically chlorine, chlorine dioxide or iodine that deactivate bacteria, viruses and parasitic protozoans and making them harmless and safe for consumption. This might not be a hiking essential but it surely is a safety essential.
Be ready to sleep anywhere and everywhere. Emergency shelter for yourself to sleep anywhere.
This will help you to see what all you need for a shelter system.
Wet wipes/ Toilet paper/ Hand sanitiser
Believe it or not, you will have to poop in the woods. And if you are hiking for more than two to three days, you need to make sure that your system is clean and so is your bum. Wet wipes have moisture in them which will give you a cleaner feel and be more hygienic than the use of a toilet paper. Make sure you carry hand sanitizer with you. You do not want to fall sick because of unhygienic hands. Remember, you have to eat with those hands, you do not have spare ones! See this to understand how you can do that.
A light source is a hiking essential for a night hiking. Keeping light sources and some extra batteries for them is a good idea. This is for you to know where are you going. Flashlights are great but headlights are even better.
Making a torch is also an option. See this to know how.
Moisturiser wicking clothes
Your base layers are important. They absorb moisture and keep a layer of warm air near your body. Polyester or ultra-fine merino wool is a good wicking fabric for hiking to keep your skin dry so you stay warm and comfortable.
Clear your doubts here:
Perfect hiking boots
More than fancy footwear, size and comfort matters. Know what fabric makes you comfortable. Know in which temperature are you planning to hike. This will save your money and time. Perfect shoes are hiking essentials. Never forget them. Or if you want a little more adventure than just hiking, try hiking in heels. Surely THAT will be fun!
Wallet & IDs
Keep any identity proof with you. Keep enough cash with you. These are hiking essentials for you. You will not be able to use your cards while hiking. Emergency extra cash is always a boon.
We hope these hiking essentials will make your hiking safe and comfortable. Let us know in the comments section below how was your experience and what else apart from these are your hiking essentials.
Happy hiking guys! Climb mountains like a monkey. Make them proud of humans!
Remember when Joey went backpacking through Western Europe? Yeah, you too do that! 😉
Also read: Hiking Up the Mountain of Death