You don’t have to be an experienced hiker to enjoy an outdoor adventure. Although no experience is necessary, you do have to be a prepared hiker. With just a few essentials, and this list, you can enjoy a stress-free hike knowing that you are ready for just about any distance, duration or detour.

Preparation is Key

Prior to heading out on a hike, it’s important that you let someone know where you are going and when you plan on coming back. It’s always a good idea to notify at least one person your whereabouts in case of an emergency. Additionally, be sure to look over the trail, region and weather. Once you have accomplished these tasks, you can then start packing your hiking bag.
When packing for your journey always pack with survival in mind. You never know when something unexpected can happen like a dramatic change in weather or you veer off the trail. It’s easier than you think to get lost,.prepare for the unexpected.

What to Pack for a Hike

As mentioned, survival is the name of the game when packing for a hike. Ensure that you have enough food and water for twice as long as the duration of the hike is supposed to take. It also means to bring the following essential items regardless of the hike’s distance or difficulty:

Navigation – Always bring a map, and/or a GPS device, of the trail and region that you plan on exploring. Don’t rely on your smartphone as the sole source of guidance, as GPS on your smartphone tends to drain the battery faster and is not always accurate.Light and Fire Sources – Even if it’s just a short day hike, bring a light source and fire source. Flashlights or lights that you can strap onto your chest or head are great options. Not only will they provide adequate lighting, but they also fit nicely into your hiking bag. As for fire sources, pick up a waterproof lighter or some waterproof matches.

Tools – A Swiss army knife is a small, but effective tool for hiking. It offers several options including a knife, screwdriver, scissors and a can/bottle opener. Also, toss in a small roll of duct tape. In regards to hiking, duct tape has many purposes like fixing or repairing holes and rips in clothes, shoes and your hiking bag.

Man hiking in forest
Photo by Blake Cheek on Unsplash

Sprays – If you’ve ever been hiking and almost eaten alive by bugs, you will never leave home without bug spray again. For those who have not experienced this insect encounter, make sure you clear some space for bug spray in your hiking bag. Keep the bugs away, so that you can enjoy your day.

Sunscreen – another essential item that many people overlook. If you’re hiking in areas without much coverage or near bodies of water, then you run the risk of getting sunburnt. Hiking with a sunburn is not fun.

Emergency Items – Always bring a first aid kit when hiking. Nowadays, first aid kits are smaller and can easily fit in your hiking bag. In fact, there are some that can even fit in your pocket. Also, pick up a solar blanket as they can double up as an emergency shelter and a blanket in case of hypothermia. Most popular solar blankets fold up to the size of a wallet.

Unexpected events happen all the time. Don’t find yourself in a bind by not staying on top of your hiking game. Whether you’re hitting the trail for the first time or you’re a hiking connoisseur, remember to follow these packing essentials to make your moment with nature a tranquil one. Still not sure if you have everything? Check out this checklist from REI.

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