Whether you're going on a day hike or camping overnight, make sure you have the essential items before hitting the trail this National Take a Hike Day.
In honor of National Take a Hike Day, here are ten essential items to bring with you before hitting the trails. With these survival items you will be able to handle most situations.
1. Map & Compass
A map and compass should always be carried with you even if you know the area you will be hiking through. A detailed map will provide you with all the necessary information you require such as landmarks, trail contours, national parks and nearby amenities.
These landmarks will allow you to locate where you are on the map with the help of your compass, particularly if you find yourself straying into unknown territory. Furthermore, a map and compass are much more reliable compared to GPS devices and cell phones, which can quickly lose their battery power.
A headlamp should always be part of your essential items list, as well as spare batteries. You should have enough light that you can use during your hike after dark or while camping if you decide it's safer to stop for the night and continue again in the morning.
The amount of extra clothing you bring with you will depend a great deal on where you'll be hiking, the time of year you'll be hiking and whether you may be camping outdoors for the night. It's a good idea to bring along a woollen hat, gloves and an insulated jacket if you are hiking during the spring and conditions turn chilly after the sun sets.
4. Extra Food & Hydration
Calories are an important factor when hiking since you consume a large amount of calories to regulate your body temperature, keeping you warmer for longer. You never know when you may be delayed by bad weather, by getting lost or having emergencies, so bring enough food to last you a day. The food should require little or no cooking and have a good balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates.
When you are hiking, it's vital that you bring water along with you and to drink it throughout the day. A good way of ensuring that you drink water consistently during the day is to use a water bladder, which can hold around six pounds of water inside your backpack, which should be sufficient for a day hike. If you require more water you can refill from a fresh water source, but you may want to bring along a water filter or purifier to treat the water before drinking it.
5. First-Aid Kit
A first-aid kit should always be carried with you when hiking. A few first-aid supplies will be ideal for yourself or anyone else that you're hiking with. The simplest thing that you can do is purchase a small first-aid kit that has all the essential items you require inside. These are relatively cheap to buy; however, it is also easy for people to assemble their own first-aid kit to tailor what they need.
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6. Sun Protection
The higher you are, the greater the intensity from the sun's rays. Try to carry a hat, lip balm and some form of sunscreen to prevent the sun from burning you. Sunglasses are also a handy addition, particularly in winter, as these will help to prevent snow blindness.
If you need to spend the night outside because you underestimated the distance you need to cover or you, or someone you're with, are hurt or lost, then you would need to make a fire. You should practice this before leaving it to when you actually need it and you find out that you don't have the right equipment to make your fire. A good way to start a fire is with a fire steel that produces a lot of sparks and cotton balls that are covered in Vaseline.
8. Multi-Tool and Repair Kit
A Swiss-Army knife or a multi tool will be ideal as you will find that this single piece of gear has multiple uses for your needs. That, along with duct tape and a few safety pins, will work well at patching up any broken gear that needs a temporary fix.
If you are lost then a whistle will come in handy. It's best to purchase a plastic whistle that is pea-less as the pea inside metal whistles may freeze up if you are in the mountains. A plastic whistle is lightweight and incredibly shrill, and is the perfect tool for getting someone's attention.
10. Emergency Shelter
An emergency shelter, such as an emergency blanket or emergency bivi, is very useful to have on hand if you get cold or wet or if you need to camp out. If you need to camp overnight then make sure you don't lie down on the cold ground as you will lose all the heat from your body. Instead, make use of a foam sleeping pad so you can stay warm as you take shelter inside your emergency blanket or bivi.
This only needs to be as long as your hips to your collarbone, which will also take up less space in the backpack.
Today, Nov. 17 is National Take a Hike Day so get out there and climb some mountains or take a walk on a trail. But don't forget these essential items that can make it more enjoyable and save you from a dire situation.
Happy Take a Hike Day!