Hiking is not for the faint-hearted, and just as well because those secluded corners of the world are intended to be enjoyed by those worthy of reaching them. But it’s not just passion and drive that gets you to these places, although that helps. It’s your survival essentials that you bring on your mountain hikes, fuelling you on and offering the support when you need them most. If you’re new to the hiking hobby, or want to make sure your seasoned selection encompasses all the essentials, find out what you need.
A hardy backpack
All those essentials are contained in the most important essential; your hiking backpack. Your hike success will depend on the type of backpack you have, so don’t simply recycle an existing bag that you believe can do the job. You and your hiking career deserve more than an old school bag or canvas backpack. For a day hike, seek a 10 L backpack, and increase in volume if you intend on hiking for multiple days at a time. Ideally your backpack will contain your water bottle, first aid kit, warmer clothing, refreshments, sunscreen, rope and any other incidentals that will heighten your experience when you are out in nature.
A readable map
Whether you prefer digital or paper – you cannot commence a hike without a map that is readable and makes sense to you. The beauty of a hike is that you are completely immersed in nature with no semblance of man-made infrastructure or design. Although this can make it hard to identify and remember landmarks, so equip yourself with a map. Regardless of how sophisticated your digital GPS or map service may be, it’s advisable that you have a hard copy map on hand in case you encounter a signal or battery failure.
A trustworthy tent
Tents will perform as well as you treat them, so respect this essential hiking item. The assembling and packing down of a tent is often rushed, and too few of us erect it again at home to make sure it is well cleaned and ready for the next adventure. If your tent hasn’t been able to deliver the basic need of a dry and protected nights sleep, it’s time to upgrade your tent model. Consider where you hike and in what seasonal condition so that you buy the right material.
It’s a hard topic to broach as a hiker. What would happen to me if something went wrong and I was alone, or with people who could not help? Equipping yourself with a comprehensive first aid kit will give you and your loved ones the ultimate peace of mind every time you hit the trail. At a bare minimum you will want to include a first aid manual, bandaids, bandages, ointment, antiseptic cream, tweevers, disinfectant and medication. Tweak your first aid kit based on your previous experiences and personal preferences.
Those lectures your parents would feed you about sun safety have hopefully stuck, and you are thinking about the beating sun every time you hike. Although sun protection goes beyond sunscreen. You should also be wearing clothes that block the sun, have hydrolytes in case you experience sun stroke, and UV rated sunglasses. The sun can very quickly become a foe, so don’t think you can win out against it and protect yourself adequately.
The high of a mountain hike is felt long after you disembark the mountain. When you hike and see things that can rarely be replicated in the manmade world we live in, it leaves you with a feeling of accomplishment and exploration. Like anything, it’s important to invest in our passions and pursuits, so make sure you have all the tools and gear to see you soar.