Hiking is a long, often vigorous walk, usually on trails in a natural environment and mountains. A lot of outdoor enthusiasts are passionate about hiking and plan short hikes during weekends. If you are a beginner, you may want to start with day hikes where you return to the starting point by the end of the day. You can gradually move to multi-day hike which is also easy and helps you know your ability and aptitude for hiking. You can also club it with camping in the wilderness at night. Some knowledge of map-reading and first-aid comes handy in hiking.
So, what is tactical gear? Tactical means clever or skillful in planning or manoeuvering to accomplish a purpose. Tactical gear refers to a wide variety of products created primarily for military and law enforcement personnel, which due to its durability and robustness, has also become popular among hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, and common citizens. It is used to protect oneself from danger in the outdoors and prepare for emergency situations.
Now, one would not want to go hiking in flip flops or hunting in denims. It is obviously important to be wearing and carrying the right gear with you, so as to be prepared for the outdoor activity and unforeseen situations.
From body armor to optical equipment to footwear, a lot comes under tactical gear, which is why a lot of people want to get tactical gear for their common use too. Tactical gear has found some popularity and increased use in hiking over the years. Here is some of the tactical gear that you can use in hiking :
Tactical jackets were initially intended for military personnel with features like weatherproofing, multiple pockets and pouches, and durable fabric and stitching. With an increase in their applicability, they were later designed to be more stylish and affordable so that even civilians could use them.
These jackets are popular among hikers for their functionality, as these protect them against harsh weather conditions, give them ample storage, and are made of rugged fabric which makes them durable and long lasting.
Jackets come with a lot of features and you need to choose one wisely. You need to do some research on the type of material you are comfortable in, should be sure of the fit that you want, and the storage capacity i.e. pockets and zips that you would like it to have.
The material should be able to protect you from all types of weather and offer you comfort at the same time. Some jackets come with extra protection or some work with armor or ballistic vests. Loading too much stuff in the pockets can reduce mobility and you would not want that on a hike. Some jackets have a cool feature like a zip or hole for you to plug your earphones through it and be able to listen to music while on the go.
Irrespective of what you are doing outdoors, your footwear is an important aspect to take care of. You, of course, would not want to go hiking in casual shoes or shoes with poor grip, as only the right footwear can keep you safe in all types of weather conditions and protect you from falls.
You might want to consider wearing footwear that are light, comfortable and protect your feet from injuries. A lot of hikers use tactical boots for hikes. These boots are robust and durable. Tactical boots differ greatly in weight, ankle support, breathability and material, and you should be really careful with what you choose, especially if you are planning a long hike.
A backpack is a very important possession as it allows you to carry your essentials. Tactical backpacks are made of durable material so as to withstand rigorous abrasion during hikes in the wilderness. They also have more compartments and pockets which makes it easy for you to organise your hiking gear and other essentials meticulously. They are usually heavier than other backpacks but are more robust and long lasting.
Make sure you do not stuff your backpack with items that you will not be needing on the hike as these not only add weight to your bag but you also have to take care of those extra items in your bag. One of the first things, don’t forget to choose the right backpack for your hike.
It is important to have a wrist companion on the hike and many hikers like to wear a tactical watch. Watches which are tough, water-resistant, and have a good battery life are apt for hikes. These are a reliable timepiece as they can withstand harsh weather conditions.
Watches may come with advanced and sophisticated features like LED light, multiple time zones, shock proof, scratch-proof and anti-reflective coated lens. Some watches have a GPS feature which improves its functionality and may come with added features. One should do a thorough research before buying a watch and also know the purpose and use of the watch.
No one wants to compromise with the safety of our eyes and you never know what is in store for you, especially on a hike. Sunglasses are a good means of protecting your eyes from excessive ultraviolet radiation, especially if you spend a lot of time outside. Tactical sunglasses have grown popular among civilians. These provide ballistic protection i.e. protection against small projectiles and fragments which is why hikers find them useful on hikes. They use these to protect their eyes from the sun, fragments, and even bushes or branches from the trees. You might consider investing in a pair of sunglass cable strap to keep them secure while wearing them.
It is interesting that what started out as a means to protect military and law enforcement personnel, has found common use too. Tactical gear owes its growing popularity to its durability, convenience, sturdiness and light weight. Tactical gear has been a blessing to hikers and helps them to be better prepared for the hike.
So before you plan a hike or head outdoors, make sure you are armed with the right gear and are well prepared for the hike.
Tactical gear isn’t enough for hiking. What skills do you need?
Apart from a dependable backpack, tactical clothing, a good pair of hiking boots, etc., hikers need to develop outdoor skills. If the gear is easy to find in stores or online, skills require time and energy to grow. People who have no idea whatsoever where to begin with hiking can even take survival courses to learn basic outdoor skills.
Even if outdoor skills are necessary for complex and multi-day hikes, common sense is something we all have and can use when packing for a short walk.
Why has a robust outdoor skill set?
You will learn early that you cannot control all elements and factors when hiking. Even the most perfect plan can go south if a storm suddenly comes out. You should always check out the weather forecast before hiking and remember that mountains have their weather! This is why a strong set of outdoor skills can help you stay safe in case of life-threatening situations. Should you go with your family, you want to protect them and be safe in a wind storm, earthquake, tornado, etc.
Some people aren’t aware that a good set of outdoor skills is versatile and valuable in all scenarios. As a hiker, you need to develop and know when to use excellent outdoor skills. Here are the primary skills that a hiker, or outdoor enthusiast, should have:
- Leave no trace
- Not getting lost/knowing what to do if getting lost
- Clean water
- Carry a survival kit
Let’s start with the Leave No Trace skills
One of the many things and principles you will learn with hiking is to be respectful of nature and seek to have minimal intrusion into the environment. The Leave No Trace principle is fundamental for safe hiking. Hikers should hike on marked trails and tracks through forests, mountainsides, rivers, plains, and deserts. For many beginners, not leaving a trace sounds a bit strange at first. Let’s not forget that a trail is an obvious sign of human activity!
As the Leave no Trace topic is vast, we only resume to the main aspects. The Leave No Trace principle means that nobody following your trail should know that you’ve been there. Still a bit confused about it? Here’s what the Leave No Trace principle means:
- Don’t throw fruit peels on the trail (it’s not because they’re not biodegradable!)
- Don’t throw candy wrappers
- Don’t spit sunflower seed husks
- Don’t damage trees
- Don’t leave garbage behind at the campsite
- Don’t build fire rings
- Don’t carve onto a tree trunk, etc.
The list can go on and we’re confident you got the idea. It’s about not leaving a mess behind you but also about having skills to meet your needs without altering nature around. You should pitch your tent, cook your meals, take care of your personal hygiene needs, spend the night in the woods without leaving the slightest marks on it.
If this sounds like a piece of cake, we care to warn you that it will take you many hikes until you get a deep understanding of the Leave No Trace principle. Learn as much as possible about how to choose your backpack, take care of your hygiene, pitch your tent without harming trees, etc.
Don’t get lost
First of all, you should never go hiking alone, especially if you’re new to hiking. Experienced hikers already know it and always inform a friend/family member about where they are
going, when they’re supposed to get back, etc. When you hike, you’re the only one responsible for your safety. Irrespective of the weather, terrain, your physical condition; you have to hike so that people find you if you get lost.
You should spend the extra buck on a dependable and precise GPS and have a backup plan for navigation. Buy a compass and learn how to use it before you go hiking and get lost in the middle of the desert. Even if you have a fixed budget, we don’t recommend you sacrifice the quality of your navigation system.
The more you hike, the more you become aware of the weak points you need to improve on yourself. Don’t hesitate to buy the latest GPS handheld unit if you feel safer like this when hiking! Take a compass and map reading class, especially if you know nothing about it! You want hiking to be as pleasant and stress-free as possible. Knowing that you always have a tool and a great set of skills to find your way back home gives you peace of mind and lets you enjoy your hike.
Customize a survival kit
Some hikers like to stay on the safe side and always hike on well-maintained tracks, within easy walking distance of developed campgrounds, roads, or places where help is easy to access. If you’re one of them, you won’t need to get yourself the newest survival gear. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared to spend the night in the woods if the weather worsens or gets dark before you get safely back home.
Unless you’re in mild conditions, you might have to fight hypothermia. That’s why packing the ten essentials in your hiking backpack is a valuable habit to have. Here’s what you should always have on you when hiking:
- extra clothing
- extra food and water
- first-aid supplies
It’s not ideal, but spending the night in the woods unplanned isn’t fun. You should always pack extra food, water, and clothing to remain warm, dry, and hydrated until rescuers find you.
On the other hand, if you’re an adventurous hiker who likes to go off-trail to explore, looks for rugged tracks, and loves a new challenge, you will need a lot more than a basic set of survival skills a survival kit.
One of the most common mistakes with new hikers is that they forget to drink water and dehydrate. If you get thirsty, you’re already late in staying hydrated. Dehydration can profoundly impact your ability to focus and complete your hike.
Sure, carrying a small bottle of water is nice, but it’s not going to be enough for a whole day of hiking. What do you do when it’s over? We can survive for three weeks without food, but only three days without water. As for air, we can only survive for three minutes without it.
Many new hikers simply don’t know how much water they need on a hike. Typically, 2 lbs of water per day in moderate weather should be enough. If you go backpacking, you will need more than 2lbs to cook meals and do various camp cleaning chores. Since hiking can be strenuous, you don’t want to make it even more difficult by carrying a lot of water.
Instead of hauling water, you should think of ways to have water on your hiking trail. Here are some suggestions:
- Check out your trail map and see if there is surface water.
- Make sure that it’s not seasonal water. You don’t want to get to the water and realize that it has run dry as it’s early fall/late summer. See if you find standing surface water: ponds, tarns, lakes.
Learn how to use water purification: tablets, personal filter straw.