Top 10 Hiking Essentials for Spring and Summer
Hiking can be an exhilarating experience that rewards perseverance and endurance with a sense of accomplishment, a beautiful view, a greater understanding, or one of the many other outcomes people seek when they take to the trails.
Conversely, hiking can be a harrowing affair with very real consequences for those who enter into the endeavor unprepared and find themselves ill-equipped for the path ahead of them. You want to makes sure you have access to comfort items, like a hat for shade and maybe trekking poles to make the hike a bit easier, as well as potentially lifesaving things like a first aid kit or plenty of hydrating drinks like DripDrop, one of the best electrolyte drinks to help you avoid and alleviate dehydration symptoms.
So, how can you make sure you get the most out of your adventure into the wilderness without succumbing to its hardships and challenges? We’ve compiled a list of ten essentials that’ll do its part to help see you through to the trail’s end.
Our Top 10 Hiking Essentials List
Hiking First Aid Kit
A precompiled hiking first aid kid can be purchased or created. Important items include different types of pain relievers and inflammation reducers like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin. Also include medications that provide allergy relief, heartburn relief, and caffeine. Lastly, an EpiPen may be a good idea if you have an allergy, although those require a prescription to obtain.
As far as first aid is concerned, include bandages, clotting gauze, steri-strips to sub for stitches, roll gauze, Neosporin, benzoin tincture to improve adhesiveness of bandages and treat feet, and elastic bandages.
Tools should include scissors, precision tweezers (not cosmetic) for ticks and splinters, a tick key to remove ticks that are fully embedded and hand sanitizer when a hand washing station is nowhere to be found. Also consider bringing a sleep aid, a stomach aid, a triangular dressing and an irrigation syringe to clean any possible wounds
Try to find a waterproof fire starter. They’re lightweight, long lasting and useful in emergencies or for everyday use. If put into a survival situation, the ability to quickly create a controlled fire could be the difference between rescue and a night in the wilderness. It could also make it easier to cook food and stay warm. Hikers are also advised to take matches or a lighter with them.
When hiking, it’s important to always be prepared. If you’re going on a long, potentially dangerous hike, an emergency shelter should definitely be one of your hiking essentials. It can help shield you from the elements should you become incapacitated or stranded while exploring the wilderness. Options range wildly from bivy sacks—a sort of tent and rain jacket hybrid the size of a sleeping bag—to light tarps and trash bags.
It's also important to remember that a tent isn’t an emergency shelter unless it’s going along for every step of the hike. A tent situated comfortably at camp won’t help if you can’t return to the camp. For this same reason, keeping water with you at all times and DripDrop drink powder is one of the best electrolyte drinks to help with dehydration.
Navigation and Communication
Take your cell phone. Your desire to reconnect with the elements or complete a hike without any advanced navigation assistance is admirable, but settle for stashing the phone away and not looking at it as opposed to leaving it in the car or at camp. If a worst-case scenario occurs, the ability to reach out for help could be the one thing that keeps you alive. If you get lost, the GPS software on your phone is more than capable of assisting you out of the predicament. Just make sure you have a case on your phone, a charged battery and an external charging device as a backup.
There’s something to be said for tradition, though. Navigation tools that should be on your hiking checklist include the aforementioned GPS device, a PLB, or personal locator beacon, a compass, an altimeter watch, and a map.
Carry a topographic map on any hike that’s more elaborate than a short, easily discernible footpath or an established route like a nature trail. A PBL is a great backup if something happens to both you and your cell phone—it’ll use GPS to surmise your location and then utilize satellites to notify emergency workers. Compasses can assist with map reading if you get turned around in the wilderness. Altimeter watches give an estimate of your elevation through the measurement of air pressure.
Water bottles come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. You want to find one that is easy to carry, leak proof, holds a lot of liquid, features wide-mouthed openings and can hold boiling water. Water bottles can cross over into your everyday life and serve you well at work, while running errands or when relaxing at home.
Staying hydrated during a hike is perhaps one of the most important hiking essentials. Whether you’re taking a leisurely loop trail or an ambitious multi-mile trek, you’re going to sweat out some of your body’s water. And to replace that water, you’ll need plenty of hydration substances to keep you going—especially on a hot summer day.
If you feel mild or moderate symptoms of dehydration coming on— like a headache or feeling thirsty or tired—carrying DripDrop electrolyte powder packets can save the day. Most people don’t even realize they’re experiencing dehydration symptoms right away, but DripDop is one of the best electrolyte drinks with three times the amount of electrolytes for optimal rehydration.
This is one of the only items on the list you can’t borrow from others. As you break your hiking boots in, they’ll conform to the unique shape of your feet and serve you well while out on the trail. A comfortable, supportive pair can mean the difference between finishing a hike or stopping with foot pain, so here are some things to keep in mind while making your decision.
Go shopping for hiking boots in the evening. Most people’s feet are larger at the end of the day than in the morning, so shopping for hiking boots after doing the bulk of your walking for the day will give you a better idea of how those shoes will fit when you’re hitting the trail. Wear the socks you plan to wear while hiking. That extra material will prevent loose shoes and provide a tight and secure fit. Lastly, walk around the store you’re in. Note that it’s normal for a hiking book to give more toe room than usual. Once you’ve chosen a pair, break them in with purposefully short hikes and, if necessary, wear the books at home or at work.
If you don’t like the weight or size of hiking boots, hiking shoes are a durable, reliable alternative.
Snacks full of nutrients are your best bet when you’re hungry and need to replace what your body lost during your hike. Look for trail mixes that mostly consist of fruit and nuts. Extra items like those covered in yogurt will only add unnecessary substances to the mix. Dark and milk chocolates have health benefits when digested in small amounts, but don’t go overboard. Mixes featuring more savory flavors can also up the sodium content from what other trail mixes offer, and sodium can be an enemy when it comes to staying hydrated.
Even if the weather looks cloudy and overcast, protection from the sun is an important priority since you’ll be spending so much time outdoors with no shelter from the sun’s rays. Try to obtain a sunscreen that’s SPF 30 or above since sunscreens with that rating will block 97% of the Sun’s damaging UVB rays. When it comes to lip balm, try to find one rated SPF 15 or higher. Lip balms may not seem important for a hiking trip, but dry, cracked lips can be painful and annoying—if you aren’t careful, the sun can cause those issues.
Sunscreen will help protect the skin, but what about your eyes? Sunglasses are a good place to start, but the right hat can do a lot to block out the sun, protecting both the eyes and the face from its harmful rays. Any hat with a large brim, including a baseball cap, will do. Try to find a hat that’s quick drying.
In addition to the hat, a lightweight, breathable neck gaiter can help keep the sun’s rays off the neck’s sensitive skin. A hat and/or neck gaiter can cut down on or even eliminate the need to apply and reapply sunscreen.
A water bottle will hold a generous amount of liquid safely as you traverse the outdoors with it by your side. However, the water inside that bottle can be doing more to help you get through your hike. DripDrop is an oral rehydration solution that can be mixed with your water and contains three times the electrolytes for optimal rehydration. Electrolytes greatly improve the way your body uses the water you put into it. They also assist the body with communication, increasing the usefulness of muscles.
Getting an influx of electrolytes during your hike helps your body operate at peak performance, like a tune up before a long drive. Take a few packets with you to help offset the amount of electrolytes lost through sweat.
Other Hiking Gear to Consider
The ten hiking essentials on our gear list are a great start, but when considering what to bring hiking, a proper pack contains a number of useful items that serve specific purposes in certain situations. Whether they’re there to protect you or make the overall experience a smooth one, those items should also be strongly considered for space on your hiking checklist.
- Repair Kit
- Toilet Paper and Wipes
- Extra Clothes
- Trekking Poles
- Personal Identification
- Pen and Paper