We’re getting pretty serious about hiking in my house.
This summer we’re planning hikes in a couple national parks, including Zion, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. We’re spending about two weeks in the wilderness, jumping from campsite to campsite, but we are spending a night or two in hotels. We need to shower at some point. And, in August we are planning to summit Oregon’s Mt. Hood during a stay with my family. Now, we are not professional backpackers by any means, but we’ve got more skills and know-how than the average hiker. I’ve got some pre-trip jitters, but I’m hoping I can shake them by the time we begin our trip this June.
Since my trips are quickly approaching I wanted to share my hiking essentials and some hiking tips with my fellow outdoor enthusiasts so that we can all have more enjoyable hikes.
10. Food, snacks, nutrition, water. Always bring an extra day’s worth of food supplies, no matter where your hiking or camping. We always keep a case of water bottles in the truck, just in case, and bring snacks in our packs, even on day hikes. Bringing along a tube of Nuun to keep yourself hydrated is a good idea, too.
9. Sunscreen, sunglasses and hats. When you live in Arizona, these things become common place. I never hike without sunscreen and sunglasses. And I always bring an extra hat.
8. Headlamps and flashlights. You live and you learn right? Kyle and I have had plenty of hikes that slowly last until the early evening hours. We’ve learned to always carry headlamps, and extra batteries. I tend to use the full brightness setting on my headlamp, it’s an energy suck. That’s why I bring extra batteries.
7. Tents, tarps and emergency shelters. Overnight hikers will have camping gear, but day trippers typically don’t carry along a tent. You should. If not a tent, at least an emergency shelter. If the weather takes a turn or you get lost on the trail, you need to protect yourself from the elements.
6. Trekking poles. We recently bought a set of trekking poles. We haven’t used them yet, but the times that I have used trekking poles I noticed that I was making much better time on the trail and the stress was taken away from my legs. Bring them!
5. Layers. The weather can turn quick. Always pack extra layers in your backpack so you can change into a comfortable, dry set of clothing. Ask yourself “What do I need to survive the worst possible conditions?” Bring it!
4. Maps and compasses. Kyle is the navigation king. I stay out of it, mostly. Despite your experience with maps and compasses, you need these things. We don’t use a fancy GPS or anything like that, but he does want one before our next trip.
3. Fire starters. Last fall Kyle and I took a weekend trip to northern Arizona. It’s Arizona, so we didn’t think that it would be raining. It was. And everything was damp, making it impossible to start a fire from natural kindling and tinder. No matter how hard I tried to keep a fire going with papers from the truck and damp matches, it just wouldn’t catch. We really wanted to camp in the tent, but we ended up camping in the truck because we couldn’t start a fire. If we would have brought fire starters, it would have been a much better experience.
2. First aid kit. I haven’t had any injuries out on the trail, but it’s better to be prepared than not. So, we always bring along a first aid kit. Lots of kits come pre-assembled, so did ours, but we’ve added to it.
1. Good boots. I can’t stress this enough. I’ve done way to many hikes with improper footwear. Be sure to get measured and sized at a retailer like REI. The staff at REI is always really helpful and they can help you make the right choice when it comes to trail footwear.
Is there anything I missed? Add your hiking essentials to the comments section below.