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. 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 one can be 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 should also take matches or a lighter with them.
A great motto to bring into hiking and carry with yourself onto the trail is to always be prepared.
Embody that motto with an emergency shelter, an item that should always be on your person so it can be used to shield yourself 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.
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.
Nalgene water bottle
Water bottles come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but Nalgene water bottles are easy to carry, leak proof, hold a lot of liquid, feature wide-mouthed openings and can hold boiling water since they’re BPA free. The best part is, these bottles can cross over into your everyday life and serve you well at work, while running errands or when relaxing at home.
The Nalgene water bottle is so popular that many filters fit the threading around the bottle’s wide mouth top, making it very easy to fill the bottle and get back to the adventure.
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.
Snack (Trail Mix)
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 hat may be more important during day hikes since you’re going to encounter the sun while day hiking, but hats can serve a dual purpose by keeping you warm during cold nights, too.
That Nalgene 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’s mixed with your water and contains three times the electrolytes of a sports drink. 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 items on our hiking gear list is 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.
A repair kit can be as simple as a roll of duct tape and a roll of Tenacious Tape. Duct tape is the all-around fix that’ll mend everything from a broken tent pole to busted sunglasses, while Tenacious Tape is best put to work mending holes in coats, sleeping pads, tents and sleeping bags.
As far as tools go, it doesn’t get more versatile than the knife. They can be used to help with the aforementioned gear repair, as well as first aid tasks, creating kindling for fires, preparing food and defending yourself. Knives can also be purchased as part of a multi-tool, but it may be a good idea to carry both a standalone knife for more elaborate jobs and a multi-tool for its versatility.
Toilet Paper and Wipes
This one may be easy to overlook, but if nature strikes, you’ll want to be prepared. Luckily, there are a bevy of biodegradable wipes on the market today that are packaged well for sequestering into a hiking pack. A trowel can also be carried and used in a number of situations, including burying any sort of biological waste you may add to the forest floor. Don’t be embarrassed, all the animals are already doing it.
Combat those abruptly wet or chilly moments with an extra change of clothes that includes base layers, extra gloves, a jacket or vest and some sort of headgear. On winter outings, be sure to bring long sleeve tops and insulated bottoms.
These handy items can help you keep balance on rough terrain or take some of the strain off your lower body on long treks through the wilderness.
Before embarking on your hike, you may find yourself grappling with what needs left behind. Some items you carry throughout your everyday excursions into the world don’t need to follow you into the wild, but things like your cell phone and your wallet should definitely be kept on your person throughout the hike.
A wallet should include personal identification cards and a medical card listing any allergies or preexisting conditions.
Pen and Paper
Can you believe that deer stopped mere feet away from you, stared directly at you as if it were posing and casually walked back into the woods instead of running off scared? Don’t you wish you had a pen and paper to record this experience with words or a sketch? Hiking can be cathartic, and you may run into experiences you wish to take back with you. Pen and paper are great for that, but they can also help start a fire or communicate with rescuers or other hikers.
Phones are equipped with impressive cameras that capture beautiful images, but you may want to save your device’s battery life. Mirrorless cameras are a hiking-friendly size and take high-quality photos that outdo what a phone can do—for now.
Why Hiking Essentials Are Important
Best practices is a term used in professional settings to describe those policies, procedures and methodologies that became standard for completing certain tasks and receiving desired results. There’s a reason best practices exist—the people who got there before you found that they worked. Hiking essentials are one of hiking’s best practices because the items fulfill certain roles and help the hiker achieve desired results. Luckily, someone already forgot their toilet paper and had a very uncomfortable hike so you don’t have to.
Maintain Optimal Hydration with DripDrop and Save 25%
Don’t forget to replenish those electrolytes lost through perspiration during the hike. Add DripDrop to your water and give your body the electrolytes it needs to operate at its best. You can try different flavors with the multi-flavor pouch or subscribe to already loved flavors and receive 25% off. Each option provides you with packets that are easily packed or shared during your outings. See you on the trail!