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Top 10 Hiking Essentials

With the official start of summer only eight days away, hiking will be the activity for many outdoor adventurists in national parks, state parks and local trails. It can be a stress-relieving activity, but if you’re not adequately prepared, it can prove to be the opposite — so what should you pack to ensure a successful hike? Whether it’s just a few hours or a day-long trek, here are 10 hiking essentials to bring with you:

  1. Appropriate footwear. Trail shoes work well for half-day and day trips, but if you’re planning to carry a heavy load or go especially far in distance, hiking boots are a better option.
  2. Navigation tools. Two navigation must-haves are a map and a compass so you know where you are and where you’re going. Of course a GPS is good too, but it relies on batteries, whereas a compass does not.
  3. Extra water. This one’s a given, but make sure you bring plenty of water to keep enough fluids in your body. Especially during the summer, you want to do all you can to prevent dehydration. For ways to purify it from natural resources, check out these options.
  4. Extra food. Food is what gives you fuel, and you don’t want to run out mid-hike. You also want to account for unplanned circumstances, like getting lost, enduring difficult terrain or spending extra time enjoying a great view. Nuts, dried fruit, beef jerky and protein bars are great choices.
  5. Extra clothing. Dressing in layers is the way to go so you can adjust to changing temperatures. Be sure to avoid cotton, as it keeps moisture close to your skin (not a good thing if it rains), and bring along a hat to wear. A rain jacket or long-sleeve moisture-wicking shirt is also a smart add.
  6. Safety items. These include fire-starting material (a lighter or matches and tinder), a flashlight or headlamp, and a whistle. All three will be beneficial if you get lost or need help in an emergency.
  7. First aid kit. Having first aid items on hand, including tweezers, bandages, antiseptic wipes, gauze and tape, will allow you to keep going in the case of minor injury. If you want to be even more prepared, take a first aid course with a certified organization beforehand.
  8. Knife or multi-purpose tool. You will be glad you brought this along, as it will make first aid, food prep, miscellaneous repair and other tasks much easier.
  9. Sun protection. Don’t forget your sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun, especially if it’s reflecting off snow, and apply sunscreen and lip balm with SPF to avoid getting sunburned.
  10. Daypack. You’ll need something that will hold all your items but isn’t too heavy — and if you can, get one with compression straps and a padded back. Keep the things you’ll access most often in the outside pockets, with larger and lesser-used items stored on the inside.

With these essentials, you’ll be set for a great hike! If you have room in your daypack and want to have a few more things on hand, other helpful items include:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper (keep it dry in a storage bag, reserving another for used paper)
  • Bug repellent
  • Duct tape
  • Extra batteries
  • Extra pair of socks
  • Thin pair of gloves
  • Small towel
  • Identification
  • Camera/phone

Are you excited to get out there? Wherever your destination, pack well and happy trails!