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Hiking is a challenging but gratifying activity that gives the body and the mind a total workout. While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, it sure is mine. So, if you’re planning to trek your first mountain, there are “ten essentials” for hiking you should know. These items are not only meant to make the hike go smoothly but aid in your survival in case things go wrong.
A Checklist of the ‘Ten Essentials’ Every Hiker Must Pack
Aside from getting your mind and body ready for the challenging trip, there are a number of things you must not forget to bring along. Mind you; these items could mean extending your life in the wilderness.
The ten crucial things to bring during any trek was laid by the Mountaineers, a Seattle-based group of mountaineers and hikers. The primary goal of having these kinds of stuff is for the survival in an emergency situation and occurrence that are apparently beyond the hiker’s control.
Now, it’s time I walk you through the real score. The following are the crucial ten.
- Navigation. Being prepared for any hike means knowing which way is right. In this case, navigation tools are of great help. The current navigation gear includes a compass, altimeter watch, GPS Device, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), and map. I’ll go into a detailed explanation of each item.
- Compass. A compass is an essential tool, especially when you find yourself in unfamiliar terrain. I highly advise that you bring a compass equipped with a map-reading capability. Well, it’s not impossible nowadays, since the majority of smartphones are already geared with e-compass and tracking utilities. Remember to stay on track and never veer away from your hiking buddies!
- Altimeter Watch. This navigation tool is vital in giving information on elevation. With its barometric sensor, the altimeter watch will provide the actual air pressure of your location.
- GPS Device. Finding your exact location in real time is not impossible if you have a GPS (Global Positioning System). As I’ve mentioned, most of the smartphones have this built-in function. However, do remember to keep your gadgets in a tight and secured case. Also, don’t forget the extra batteries.
- Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). Also known as a satellite messenger, PLB will help you in the worst situations outdoor. Try to imagine being isolated, to the point that you can’t send even an emergency call. You can get through with any adversities if you have a PLB. Using both government and commercially-run satellites, the PLB will allow you to send a message even when you’re at the remotest places.
- Map. The destination of your hike must be clear. Now, if in case you’re heading to an unfamiliar route, don’t forget a map. Just make sure that your map will not only show you the way to the peak but will provide details on the great escape in times of unforeseen events.
- Headlamp. During night camp, a headlamp is the most comfortable way to shed light. Most hikers prefer using a headlamp because it’ll do the job and keep your hands busy on other tasks.
- Sun Protection. For sun protection, I mean sunglasses, sun protection clothing, and sunscreen. These things aren’t only meant for the beach. Since you’ll be exposed to the elements for quite a while, sun protection is vital.
- Sunglasses. A good sunglass for hiking protects you from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sunglasses used for hiking vary and it depends on the temperature and terrain. If you’re hiking in icy and cold areas, make sure to wear extra-dark glacier sunglasses.
- Sunscreen. You wouldn’t want to look a year older after your next trip, right? Well, sunscreen can help you with that. Sunscreen will protect your skin from the damaging UV rays, and in the long turn, prevents the onslaught of skin cancer. In selecting the best skin shield, consider these: a formula that is capable of blocking UVB and UVA rays, and a formula with at least Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 (if on an extended trek, use SPF 30).
- Sun Protection Clothing. Hiking clothes aren’t meant to make you look cool. Apparel for hikes has their use aside from protecting the wearer from the elements. Some hiking clothes also offer high Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF), which protects the wearer from the harsh UV rays. I would highly suggest investing in a hiking jacket that has UPF.
- First Aid. There is no doubt that you would need this. It is a must to bring along a first aid kit. Generally, a first aid kit is equipped with adhesive bandages, gauze pads, blister patches, adhesive tape, OTC medicines, disinfecting ointment, paper, and pen. You must consider the length of your trek and the number of people involved to determine the specifications of your kit.
- Knife. Whether for gear repair, food handling, emergency patching, and protection, a knife will always be there to help.
If you are hiking together with a pro, a basic knife with one foldout blade is more than enough. Meanwhile, if you are leading a bunch of inexperienced mountaineers, make sure to grab a multi-functional knife. The common add-ons include a can opener, scissors, and flathead screwdrivers.
- Fire. In emergency situations, fire is of great help. A hiker must bring any material that will ignite a fire, such as butane lighter and matches. While lighters and matches work, I use a fire starter.
What’s a fire starter? Well, as the name implies, it is an element that will jump-start a fire and will work even in a wet environment. Common fire starters include dry tinder, plastic bag, primer paste, lint trappings, and candles. So, before you go out and stroll, make sure to bring the best pair for fire ignition. However, if your destination is somewhere down in Alaska where real dry wood is almost impossible to find, my next advice is to bring a stove.
- Emergency Shelter. Getting stranded in the middle of nowhere is not impossible in the life of a hiker; thus, having an emergency shelter is a must. There are different emergency shelters one can use, such as a bivy sack, ultralight tarp, space blanket, and a big trash bag. Always remember to carry an emergency shelter for every hike to keep you warm and enclosed even in the middle of the unknown place.
- Extra Food. Another best practice of a good hiker is the attitude of packing extra meals. I, for one, always end up hungry in the middle of a hike. So, bring along additional food packs that will last until the next day.
- Extra Water. Complete your survival during unexpected scenarios. Extra water must be in your backpack. In determining the volume of the reservoir to fill, consider that a person will need a half liter per hour of moderate physical activities. You must also consider some factors like altitude, level of exertion, and temperature to know the appropriate amount of water needed.
- Backpack. Now, all these items I’ve mentioned need a place to be kept in. So, the last thing on the list is a backpack. However, the usual backpacks aren’t cut out for hikes. I would suggest you select a backpack that’s meant for hiking, and consider your height, your weight, and the hiking trip you’ll be going on. Also, select a backpack that’s made of durable materials. Plus, one with additional features like a rain cover is highly advisable, especially for hikes where the weather can be unpredictable.
Related Topic: Importance of Knowing What to Wear While Hiking
These are the must-have for all the hikers out there. Whether you’re a pro or just a beginner, never afford to forget even one of the ten essentials. I highly suggest that you always make it a point to research the mountain you plan to hike. Also, check the weather conditions on the day of the hike. Take note: it pays to be well prepared.