So, you have gotten into hiking. What a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise along with it. Definitely, if you are planning a longer hike, one that will take the better part of the day, you need to bring with you the appropriate gear. Having access to the right supplies can spell the difference between an enjoyable venture and one that you would just as soon forget. Here’s what to bring with you.
Water and Plenty of It
You can never bring enough water with you while you are on a hike. Even if you are traveling in the shade and temperatures are relatively cool, you will still work up a sweat. All that lost fluid needs to be replaced and water is the best drink for that.
Some hikers prefer to drink from a stream, but there is always some risk involved. You simply do not know the source of that water and the contaminants it may contain. Certainly, water purification tablets can help, but why bother? Simply carry enough water for the day, upwards of one gallon. Bring reusable or recyclable containers with you. Dispose of your trash in the appropriate place.
Your Footwear Matters a Great Deal
What you wear on your feet may matter more than any other article of clothing you choose. Uncomfortable feet make for an unpleasant hike, something you want to avoid. The best choice here is to wear hiking boots.
Not just any boots will do. You need hikers that provide ample support, are padded and offer excellent grip. Figure that you will be walking, climbing, looking for traction and even running — especially if that brown bear spots you. Lightweight boots with rubber soles and steel tips are the best choice. In these you will find footwear that offers sufficient protection while helping you remind light on your feet.
Shirts and Pants
It is not uncommon to see people on the trail with the skimpiest clothing. Who can blame them especially if the weather is favorable? This can be a recipe for disaster, however, especially with insects, sun and the elements to contend with. It would be better to wear a loose fitting long sleeve shirt and full length pants to protect you from bug bites and too much sun.
There are plenty of clothes you can choose that won’t cause you to break out in a sweat. Look for gear that offers sun protection and bring a hat to shield your face too. Some people bring gloves as well, what can help them grip tree branches and move shrubbery out of the way.
A misty rain can feel terrific when you are walking through the woods. A driving rain, however, can feel awful especially if you do not have rain gear with you. That gear should be a poncho, what you can slip over your clothes and wear while you are walking.
Never underestimate the importance of rain gear especially when air temperatures are falling. You may expose yourself to hypothermia and not even know it. Any covering that repels water will do. Also consider bringing an extra tarp in the event you must make your own, but very temporary, shelter.
First Aid Kit
If you were to fall or otherwise hurt yourself, what would you do? This question is magnified if you plan to hike by yourself. A basic first aid kit is a good place to start with bandages, iodine, antiseptic wipers and adhesive tape as part of it.
A knife can come in handy for cutting a bandage or building a splint. Bring with you insect repellant and sunscreen, applying both before you head out. Use an all-natural bug repellant and apply sunscreen with an SBF factor of at least 30.
Meals on the Go
It is important before you hit the trail to have a meal. A large one that can sustain you, one with ample protein and carbohydrates. This is no time to slack off on food — you need energy and you will burn through calories hour after hour.
Your main meal out will be lunch. Dinner can wait until you return. Lunch packed in zipped plastic bags will stay fresh, but avoid anything that could spoil. Sandwiches, chips, dried and fresh fruit, granola bars, nuts, cheese and crackers, and mostly anything else will do. Have ample food for snacks too as you will find yourself feeling ravenous between meals and most certainly toward the end of your hiking.
The list for other supplies can be quite extensive. Especially if you are hiking when the weather is cold. Hats, gloves, mittens, sweaters, thick underwear, socks, an overcoat and even a swim suit can be useful, depending on the weather. Other items include a compass, matches, a flashlight, toilet paper, and even a whistle. The whistle can come in handy if you get lost or need to scare off that stalking brown bear.
See Also — Iowa Hiking, Biking and Skiing