One of the hardest things a hiker will do is organize their essentials before a trip. It’s always so easy to second guess yourself and either pack too heavy or to light for your hike, resulting in an uncomfortable trip with a heavy backpack or missing items.
Regardless of whether you’re an ultralight enthusiast or someone who wants to take along more of their creature comforts, there are some essentials that every hiker just can’t leave home without.
What’s considered essential hiking gear will also depend on the length of your trip, so you can adjust these items accordingly. For a few days away you’ll need supplies for camping as well as extra food and water, so planning is key as always before a hike.
Your medical supplies or first aid kit is an area where some people can get carried away, and although it’s essential to have these items on hand you don’t need to have a bulky kit with you at all times.
No matter how experienced a hiker you are or how well you think you know the trail you’re going to take, it’s essential to take along a first aid kit. At the least, these should contain antiseptic wipes, bandages, band-aids, as well as insect repellant and anti-inflammatory medication. For longer trips, you’ll need more of these supplies as well as other items to keep you covered.
There are some essential pieces of backpacking gear to have prepared for a short hike, but those that are needed for overnight stays and extended trips too. Here are a few important items that every hiker needs to remember.
A very important part of your essential camping gear, the food and drink we take along on a hike gives us the energy to continue on. The key for packing food supplies on a hike is to travel lightly, bring along prepared meals, and incorporate lots of high energy food groups into your nutrition.
Your water supply is even more important than the food, as without adequate hydration you are vulnerable to a range of medical issues. How much water you bring along will depend on your own hydration needs, the climate you’re hiking in, and your levels of exertion.
Even the most experienced hikers can become lost in their own backyard, so never assume that you know an area completely. One of the key hiking essentials is a navigation device, whether it’s a GPS or the traditional map and compass.
Every year, hundreds of search and rescue missions are performed to retrieve lost hikers with over 40% of their missions being for this exact reason. Without an adequate navigation tool on hand, you’re likely to become lost in the dense forest or unknown surroundings, so it’s an absolute necessity for hikers of all skill levels.
Finally, there are those hiking essentials that just don’t fit anywhere else. These items might skip your mind at first thought, but they’re all hiking essentials for any length of trip and all skill levels too.
Just as important as your hiking gear and first aid kit, but an item that often gets left behind is your common sense. Even the most experienced hikers are prone to losing their common sense, so you should always have your judgement hat on.
If the weather seems to be turning bad, you need to make the call whether or not to head back. Give someone your hiking plans before you leave home, as well as the time and day you’re expected back. Obey warning signs in national parks and don’t be over confident. Just these small tips can be life-saving on a hike, no matter your skill level.
It's quite easy to get carried away when packing for your hike, so the easiest way to cull unnecessary items is with a list. Consider how many days you’ll be away for, what the current climate is, and what you’ll need to keep you covered in an emergency. Just a little bit of preparation now can mean a world of difference later.