Hiking can be a very invigorating and relaxing experience in one, but if you do not have the proper gear and supplies on hand, it can quickly turn into a very unpleasant experience. The best way to ensure that you have the hike that you imagine is to take the time to fully prepare before you embark on your journey. Use the information below to learn what it is that you should consider as you plan.
The most important thing to plan for, no matter how long or short your hike will be, is ensuring that you have the means to stay hydrated. While water bottles are an obvious option, there are also hydration systems that are less bulky and easy to carry on your back. One of the most famous of these is known as a camel back. If you are taking an extended hike that will last for more than a few hours, you may also want to consider water cleansing tablets. As long as there are lakes or rivers that you can access you will be able to stay hydrated and need to carry very little to do so.
It is also important to plan for navigating. The best way is to make a clear route that you plan to take. If it is off of a trail, this is even more important. You will also want to bring a map and compass with you to ensure that you do not get off track. Fortunately, even if you do get off track, having a compass on hand will help you to get back to your designated route or starting point.
Sun protection is also essential. Even during the winter months being outside for more than 20 minutes can lead to a sunburn. You should apply a high SPF sunscreen before you head out and reapply as instructed on the product. A pair of sunglasses is also a good idea to protect your eyes from damage from the sun as well as the foliage and branches you will likely encounter.
Having extra clothing on hand is also important. You want to be prepared for any weather conditions that may occur. Rain ponchos, extra layers for warmth and even a full change of clothes and extra shoes can keep you comfortable if anything unexpected were to occur.
Whether you are planning a relatively short hike or a multi-day adventure you should pack something for illumination. Headlamps are great because they do not need to be held in your hand and work at the touch of the button. Be sure to have extra batteries on hand as well. Even if you do not plan to be out after dark, you want to be prepared in case you do become lost. Flashlights can work as well. A very small LED version can produce a lot of light and will not take up much space in your backpack.
Finally, a few odds and ends that you should bring include camping hammocks, matches or a lighter that is contained in a water proof resealable container or bag, extra food that is high in protein and is non-perishable, such as a hearty trail mix, and a complete first aid kit. You never know what conditions you may encounter when you enter the wild.
Being prepared with the proper hiking equipment will mean the difference of having a miserable time or fully enjoying the experience in nature. Use the tips above as you plan your excursion and think about anything else that may be useful. The more thought you put into it, the better the experience will be.