10 Hiking Essentials
As we start to plan our next hike, our adventure-loving brains move straight to: ‘I can’t wait to get my gear ready!’ So to help you inch closer to your next hike, here are our 10 must-haves for hitting the trail.
But first let us preface this post with the fact that these are our recommended ‘essentials’ – depending on where you’re headed, the time of year, how long you’ll be hiking, and if it’s a multi-day hike (with or without accommodation), you’ll need a few more essentials to keep you going.
We’re also going to add that you could have the most lightweight, amazing, multi-functional gear known to man but if your feet aren’t happy (read: comfortable, supported and dry), then you certainly won’t be.
So here’s what to look for when it comes to hiking boots:
Space for your toes
Your feet will swell as the day wears on. Your little piggies will thank you for the extra space.
Heel secure and locked into place
Constant rubbing in the back of the heel is a blister’s best friend! Blisters are not our friends (sorry, not sorry).
Comfortable fit and cushion as needed
Happy feet = happy hiker.
These three points are the key to finding the right hiker for you. Other things to consider may be: “Waterproof or non-waterproof? Mid-ankle coverage or low, sneaker-like coverage? Hiker or trail runner?”
These answers will depend on what kind of adventure you’re undertaking and what your needs are personally. Remember, everyone is different. Hike your own hike.
So then, the 10 essentials.
Whilst going off-road can pose a small risk, (and it’s important to be prepared in the face of a stressful scenario) there is no need to pack a small village on your back. But ensuring you have the basics covered will make your hike all the more enjoyable, and could save you from a lot of heartache while on the trail.
1. Tell someone where you’re headed
Though not an essential “thing”, a must before you do hit the trail (no matter how big or small), is to tell somebody where you’re headed and to let them know when you’re safely home.
Technology has really gone above and beyond. That being said, it CAN fail. And it’s better to be prepared that it WILL fail. Most national parks or known hiking trails will have maps available online that you can print and keep handy. You never know when your phone will decide to bump from 77% to 5% battery life in the span of a second.
Sometimes maps can be confusing. And then you realise about 2 hours in that you can’t figure out where you are in between all the squiggles and dots. But knowing which direction you parked the car is a game changer. (You also look like an orienteering master amongst your hiking buddies or passers-by.)
4. Sunglasses and sunscreen
Living in Australia, this is pretty obvious.
5. Headlamp or flashlight (and extra batteries)
Even if you don’t plan on doing an overnight hike, a headlamp or flashlight may come in handy. Having something to illuminate your way other than your phone will be a saviour – headlamps and flashlights are designed to cover more distance and tend to have a much stronger beam to illuminate the way. Just keep this in your pack all the time – never take it out.
6. First-aid kit
You don’t need to go overboard but having the basic essentials for a first-aid kit is incredibly valuable, for your peace of mind and others. This should include: band-aids, antibacterial spray or ointment, gauze, antiseptic wipes, ibuprofen, medical tape for blisters, antihistamines for possible allergic reactions and tweezers. You can create your own or purchase a pre-made kit – there are endless opportunities.
7. Matches or gas stove
Warmth is key. Fire is warmth. Be sure to have some matches or something to start a fire in the event that you need to bring your body temperature up, cook, dry out clothes, or all of the above and more.
Again something we suggest keeping in your pack all the time. You never know when you’ll need to create a shelter, spear a fish for dinner or cut an apple.
9. Extra food/sufficient water
Having energy on trail is essential. It’s better to carry a little extra rather than not enough. This could be the difference between being comfortable on the last hour of a trail rather than trying to make decisions when you’re exhausted and dehydrated. (Plus, having ‘snack breaks’ to take in the view is half the fun!)
10. Extra clothing
We know Mother Nature is beautiful. We also know Mother Nature can be a fickle thing. One moment you’re in admiring blue, sunny skies, and the next, the sky has turned an ominous grey and the wind has picked up while pelting you with rain droplets the size of a fist. Clothing is a close second to footwear. Being able to maintain your body temperature is what will allow you to continue hiking throughout the day. Invest in practical layers that can be added or removed without too much drama and you’ll be set.
Happy hiking explorers!