Hiking is a great way to explore the outdoors and is an affordable activity the whole family can enjoy. Getting some fresh air is also good for your overall health. Hiking improves your blood pressure and blood sugar levels and helps keep your bones strong. Regular hiking is a great cardio workout and can help manage your weight.
Before you go on a hike, make sure you are prepared. Grab your backpack and fill it up with things you need to stay safe. You may have heard the term “ten essentials” before. They are ten items that you would need to survive overnight in the wilderness. Even if you are only planning to hike for a couple of hours, having these items will prepare you in case something happens. As the saying goes, “you’re better safe than sorry!”
The ten essentials below are everyday items that you might already have on hand. Pack light on your hike and don’t forget these ten items:
- Appropriate clothing. Hiking boots are designed to your support your feet and ankles when walking on rocks or uneven ground. They prevent you from twisting your ankle. You can wear running sneakers if the trail is paved or flat but use caution. Wear something comfortable and breathable and remember to bring extra layers of clothing. Even on a nice day, the weather can change in an instant or temperatures can drop unexpectedly especially if you reach higher elevations.
- Trail Directions/Map. Many state park trails will post a map at the trailhead. Take a picture of it with your cellphone before you start. Even if you lose cell service, you’ll still have a map to reference. If you get lost, retrace your steps and come back the way you came.
- Sun protection. Bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen on your hike. Long exposure to the sun can lead to heat exhaustion, sunburn, or dehydration. On hot days, try to hike early in the morning when it’s cooler.
- Plenty of food. Pack a snack for the trail. High protein snacks will keep you energized. Bring foods that are portable and don’t require refrigeration. Classic hiking snacks are trail mix, beef jerky, fresh or dry fruit, and granola bars.
- Plenty of water. Bring at least 1 liter of water for every two hours of hiking. Bring extra water if it is hot outside. If you’re hiking with your pet, bring some water for them too.
- Lighter or matches. In case of emergency, you may need to start a fire to stay warm or cook food.
- First-aid kit. Your kit should include Band-Aids, antiseptic (alcohol) wipes, tweezers, medical tape, and an elastic bandage to wrap sprains. You might include itch cream to soothe bug bites or contact with poison oak.
- Knife. A knife is a useful multi-purpose tool. Use it to peel fruit, cut rope, or trim kindling for firewood.
- Flashlight. If you are hiking in the afternoon and don’t make it back before sundown, a flashlight will help guide you in the dark.
- Hand Sanitizer. Many trails don’t have access to running water, so hand sanitizer is a great alternative for hand washing, especially before your picnic lunch.