Hiking is an excellent hobby that lets you experience nature, see amazing sights, see wildlife and get a great workout. If you are setting out for a hike, you probably know the importance of a comfortable backpack and good hiking shoes. However, there are some other important items that you should pack before you go on your next hike. Below you will find my list of 17 Top Hiking Essentials that can help you survive if you have an accident, or find yourself in adverse conditions.
A flashlight, lantern or headlamp is an absolute essential. It can get very dark at night and you will need something to light your way. Headlamps are a good choice because they keep your hands free. Most headlamps have different light modes including a strobe mode that can be used to signal for help in an emergency.
You might have all the apps or GPS devices you can imagine, but you need to have a real map with you. Technology can fail and your devices can run out of power. Often, the signal strength is not good out in the mountains or remote areas, so you need to have something to rely on. Topographical maps are the best choice.
In addition to a good map, you need to have a compass you can rely on as a backup if those sophisticated GPS devices and apps fail you Compasses don’t need a power source or batteries, and some come equipped with a sighting mirror that can be used to flash sunlight to signal a helicopter or rescuer in an emergency. Technology is great, but don’t underestimate the importance of tried and true navigation devices.
Out in the elements, you need to protect yourself from the damaging UV rays of the sun. Don’t forget to pack the sunscreen, and remember to apply it. A sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is recommended. Check that the sunscreen you choose blocks UVA and UVB rays.
A good pair of sunglasses are essential. Make sure you choose a quality pair because your eyes are worth it. A key component in a quality lens is the ability to block 100% of ultraviolet light (UVA and UVB). Did you know that UVB rays have been linked to the development of cataracts? Protecting your eyes is very important for your health. Be wary of cheap sunglasses that may put your eyes at risk.
First Aid Kit
Purchasing a ready-made kit is best, because they are designed to have supplies for a variety of issues, and save you the time of building your own. There are specialized first aid kits made for hiking and camping. A well stocked first aid kit will have all types of supplies including a snake bite kit.
High capacity power banks are perfect to pack along to use if you need to charge your phone or other devices. You may think your phone has a great battery life, but you need to prepare for the unexpected. Power banks can be life-saving if you have an emergency or encounter conditions that cause delays.
A solar charger can be used to power your smartphone and other electronics if you run out of battery power and deplete additional power banks. Using a solar charger can help you call or message for help if you have a signal. Many solar chargers include a flashlight and even a compass.
A good knife and multi-tool are great to use for repairs, food prep, cutting branches or to use in emergency situations You can find all kinds of knives and multi-tools on the market. Choose one that is durable and lightweight.
When you are hiking, you need plenty of water. Hydration packs and water bottles are a good way to make sure you have a supply of clean water to drink. There are personal water filters that can be used to turn stream or other water into safe drinking water. Carrying one of these filters can give you peace of mind that you will have life-sustaining water to drink if you are stranded or run out of water.
Even if you are not going on an overnight hike, you should still pack an emergency shelter. You may feel confident that you will not get lost or injured, but it is best to be prepared for the unexpected. Something as simple as a space blanket or lightweight tarp can protect you from wind, rain, snow or sleet while you wait for help.
A loud safety whistle should be in your gear. If you need to signal for help, this will be heard a lot farther than your voice.
Carry a spray or lotion to protect yourself from biting insects, spiders, ticks and more. Many insects such as ticks can spread deadly disease so, be sure to protect yourself with an insect repellant that works well for the area you are hiking in.
Waterproof matches stored in a waterproof container can help you build a fire. Whether you need them to start a campfire on an overnight hike, or to light a fire to keep warm or signal for help, dry matches are essential. You pack a butane lighter to use as a backup.
A Firestarter like some dry tinder, candles or special wood soaked nuggets should be kept in a waterproof bag. These items will allow you to quickly get your fire to ignite. Even household dryer lint can be used.
Don’t forget to pack extra food even on day hikes. Food items that are light but have good nutritional value are dried meats, nuts, protein bars and dried fruits.
Weather conditions can change rapidly, so pack an additional layer of clothing to protect yourself from the elements. Choose your clothing based on the season and the worst weather conditions you could face.
Hiking and camping are fun activities the whole family can enjoy. Preparing for emergencies and adverse conditions will give you peace of mind, and help keep you safe if you encounter trouble. How do you prepare for a hike? Do you have any important tips to share? I would love to read them in the comments.