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Figuring out what to carry on your hiking trip can be quite a challenge. Although big, your backpack might seem to be as small as a purse when compared to the volume of the things that you might want to pack inside it. Well, how do you exactly determine what to carry and what to leave behind? This is simple; essentials first. There are those things that you cannot survive without and these should be given the first priority when packing. Hiking, in particular, requires only the essential items because the weight is a big factor. It will be very difficult to go uphill with a heavy backpack and therefore, these essentials should be good enough for your survival as well as a comfortable hike.
Navigation tools are crucial for keeping you on track along the hiking trail. The most basic types of navigation tools are maps and compasses. Many state parks and forest services provide free maps upon entry and this should provide a basic guide through the trail.
However, if you are not into the old school stuff, ensure you pack a GPS. This could be in the form of a specialized gadget or a regular smartphone with a GPS feature. With this, remember to carry enough batteries or power banks in order to keep the gadgets from running out of power, which could otherwise be disastrous for you.
If you don’t want to carry a GPS system instead you can take a GPS watch. It is also an important element for hiking, camping, trekking, mountaineering and backpacking. A hiking GPS watch provides accurate time and date with all adventure information like location, speed, distance, weather condition and temperature.
Water is usually forgotten by most beginners, yet it is important to keep you hydrated as well as free from altitude sickness. Treks through bare mountains may require you to carry a lot of bottled water, which should be estimated correctly to last through the whole expedition.
Treks through forested mountains, however, are quite advantageous. Forests most likely mean there are rivers from which you can extract drinkable water. To do this, you will need a water filtration system, some of which are as small as a 500 ml bottle. This gives you a lighter load, which makes it more comfortable to hike.
Even if you are going on a short hike; one that will probably take a few hours, do not think that food is optional. Hiking burns calories really fast. If you start hiking early after having a heavy breakfast, by around 10 am, your tummy will be asking for more.
When packing, ensure you carry some snacks such as candy bars, high energy bars and high energy drinks. These will give you the energy to make it through the whole hike or to the next stop.
If your plan is to hike for more than a day, you will need clothes to change into in order to maintain hygiene. It is recommended to carry fleece jackets and pants as well as waterproof raincoats, especially if you are going to extremely high altitudes, where the weather might change dramatically.
Avoid denim as well as cotton clothes because they retain too much water and for a longer period of time. They might slow you down or even give you hypothermia in the worst case scenario.
First aid kit
A lightweight first aid kit should do the trick for any single day or multiple day hike. It should contain bandages, disinfectants and pain meds, just to name a few. This will help you take care of most of the injuries such as tree branches scratches, rock scratches, blisters and pain caused by accidental tripping.
Knives are more of multi-purpose tools than cutting tools when it comes to hiking. They can help you strip tree barks for rope, strip extra clothing to create bandages (in case you forgot the first aid kit) and to prepare the wounded area before performing any first aid.
If you are camping on the trail, knives are very handy in preparing the camping ground as well as preparing any hunted catch for the night’s dinner.
Some days you might not cover enough ground according to plan. Sunset might even hit you when you are not at a favorable spot to make camp. In such scenarios, you will need a flashlight or headlamp in order to keep moving in the dark. Therefore, it is essential to pack this tool and its accompanying batteries.
This is one of the most important hiking gear if you will be going for a few days. A tent gives you temporary shelter, protecting you from cold gusts of wind, rain, bugs and other elements that might make your stay in the camp uncomfortable.
Hiking tents nowadays are found in small sizes, which can fit one person. These are compact, easy to pack and easy to carry as well. The good thing with this size is that every hiker can carry his/her own tent, reducing the load that would have been otherwise carried by a single person for the whole team.
As you pack the hiking tent, you should not forget to include a sleeping bag. Hardcore hikers might argue that building your own shelter and sleeping bed from tree branches and grass will give you the best outdoor hiking experience but this will certainly be very uncomfortable.
A sleeping bag is meant to give you a warm and comfortable night, enabling you to rest well before heading into the next day of the hike.
Toiletries and toilet paper
Only the essential toiletries should be packed for the hike. Together with the toilet paper, these are meant to improve your hygiene standards while living on the hiking trail.
For a more exciting hiking experience, it is recommended to hike as a group. This also increases the chances of survival, just in case anything goes wrong. If this is the case, you could attach custom patches on your backpacks. This not only makes you look cool but also gives you some form of identity, which will make other hikers on the same hiking trail identify and recognize you as a unit. Wondering where to get these? There are various custom patches online platforms from which you can highly customize these patches to your own liking, enabling you to make any design you would want. A good example is https://www.gs-jj.com/, which gives you incredible customization options and at an affordable price.