99.9% of the time, nothing all that exciting happens on your hike. You make it to the summit and back in one piece, completely unscathed. As far as outdoor adventuring goes, an uneventful hike is actually a good thing. However, there's always that 0.1% chance that something unexpected happens.
Packing the right essentials will save you during that one-in-a-million hike.
Here are five hiking necessities that you should never leave behind, no matter how experienced you are.
This might seem like overkill, especially considering your cellphone probably has a convenient flashlight built in. However, when your battery dies and the sun starts to go down, a high-power light source will make all the difference.
Fenix's HM65R rechargeable headlamp will light up the trail ahead of you, while keeping your hands free for holding your map and compass, scrambling up rocks, or refueling with a quick bite to eat.
#2 Pocket Knife or Multi-Tool
If you're going on a quick, easy hike, why would you need all sorts of tools? Of course, no one plans on getting into trouble, but anything can happen in the great outdoors.
Here are just a few scenarios where the right multi-tool could get you out of a predicament-big or small:
- Wire cutters to cut through unexpected metal fencing or barbed wire
- Pliers to get a zipper unstuck or repair a frame pack
- Serrated knife for cutting rope, wood, food, and more
- Metal file for broken, painful nails from scrambling up a rock surface
- Bottle opener for enjoying a glass of wine at the summit (optional, of course)
Who knows what you'll need? It's best to be prepared for anything. Leatherman sells a compact, versatile 4-inch multi-tool that will come in handy in any one of these potential situations, and more.
#3 Food & Water
It's best to bring more food and water than you think you'll need, just in case. If you get stranded overnight, you'll be thankful for the extra granola bars and refreshing H20. Speaking of getting stranded, it's wise to make sure you've broken in your hiking boots before you go just in case you end up having to walk further or on unexpected terrain.
You also don't want to weigh yourself down too much with a massive jug of water. Invest in a sturdy, insulated 32 oz water bottle to sustain you through most average hikes.
#4 First Aid Kit
The woods are full of potential hazards, from poison ivy to sharp rocks and prickle bushes to bug bites, sunburns, bee stings, and more. This is nothing to be afraid of, as long as you've got the right emergency kit stowed away in your pack.
Whether you're treating a back injury or a flesh wound, you'll be glad you brought these must-haves:
- Bandages and sterile dressing pads
- Irrigation syringe
- Antibiotic ointment
- Pain relievers
- After Bite and antihistamines
- Lightweight splint
- Instant ice packs
A lot of minor injuries are easily treatable, as long as you have the right supplies. Protect yourself and your hiking crew by being overly prepared. The worst-case scenario is that you'll have carried around a tiny kit that you didn't end up using-certainly not the end of the world.
#5 Emergency Shelter
It's a ton of fun to camp with your kids or your best friends, but only if you were planning for a camping trip. Otherwise, an overnight stay in the woods is less than ideal.
On the off chance that the day ends before you make it safely back to your car, having some form of emergency shelter is paramount. This could include:
- Thermal sleeping bags
- Tarps and rope
- A small tent
Make sure to wear and pack sufficient layers, even if you're hiking on a sunny day. When the sun goes down and you have to build a makeshift campsite, you'll be glad you packed around the extra sweatshirts and thermal socks.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors-Safely!
Hiking has so many benefits. You get to enjoy the fresh air, spend time with family and friends, and squeeze in a couple thousand steps and hundreds of feet of elevation. If you let it, hiking and traveling can transform your life for the better.
Bringing these essentials will practically guarantee a positive experience, even if things take a slight turn for the worse.
Embrace the unknown-but prepare for it, too!