Hiking Essentials 101

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8:00 AM

Big time disclaimer........before heading out for any kind of a hike, make sure you do your research and pack accordingly. Each hike/trail is different and requires a may require more or less items to be successful. This is a list of things that I, as a beginner hiker, have come to rely on while I am out and about on the trails. 

Appropriate Footwear and Clothing
I never know how to dress for a hike, so I always dress in layers……a jacket that is easy to remove and stash in my bag if needed (or tied around my waist, you do you on that one), long sleeve shirt or tshirt (I tend to run hot so I most often wear a long sleeve shirt with a tank top under it), pants your able to move in (I prefer leggings) and good hiking shoes. I also suggest breaking those shoes in before heading out for a long hike. Nothing worse than those “new shoes blusters” that can occur.

Lightweight BackPack
Anyone who knows me knows I am constantly on the hunt for the PERFECT bag. Work bag. Travel bag. Bag to use while running errands. Bags. Bags. Bags.

I have more bags than I really need, but I can't stop and won't stop buying bags.

The more I started hiking, the more I realized I needed a backpack that was big enough to carry some essential items but not be so bulky or heavy that it hindered my ability to actually hike. I had been using a sling bag (my preferred everyday bag/purse) but found it getting in my way if I had to lean over to retie my shoe or move in an unconventional way to get up a hill. The backpack I now use is a 20L backpack from Venture Pak, which I found on Amazon. I use their 40L backpack for my gym/travel bag and love them both. The 20L bag is the prefect size to carry 2 water bottles (one for me and one for the dogs), collapsible water bowl, first aid kid, journal (a.k.a. trail maps), small bag to hold my keys, chap stick, whistle, etc. and snacks.

Water and Snacks
In general, I love me some snacks and have a (reusable) water bottle with me at all times. They are easy and convenient. But on a hike, they become an important part of my pack to make sure I don’t get dehydrated or too tired too quickly.

I also make sure to have a separate bottle of water for the dogs and a collapsible water bowl for them. They too need to stay well hydrated while we are out and about it the woods.

First Aid Kit
This seems like it should be a no brainer, but it was one of those “Duh! Of course I need that with me! Why didn’t I think of that sooner?!” items when I was putting my new pack together. Being able to take care of any issues right away is always better than taking care of them later. I’ve also recently added a whistle to my first aid kit. I took a bit of a tumble a couple weeks ago and even though I was o.k., it made me wonder how I would get anyone’s attention if I had been seriously injured. Insert…..the whistle.

Trail Map
Along with being a bag fanatic, I am also a journal junky and have waaaaay more blank journals than I will likely ever use. I turned one of those journals into my trail log. There, I keep copies of trail maps of all the trails in the area I’d like to hike and have hiked. I like having everything in one spot and this also allows me to make notes of things I may need to be aware of the next time I go out on a particular trail.

Small Supplies Bag
The last thing I keep in my pack is a small catch-all bag. It’s a small cosmetic bag that I used to hold chapstick, my keys, phone, a small thing of sunscreen/bug spray (I use Bullfrog which is a combination bug spray and sunscreen) and cash.

It's also important to remember to let someone know where you are going. I text my parents when I am heading out on a trail and when i get back so they know where I am. I also recently read that it's advised to keep a copy of your itinerary or general information of your hiking plan under the seat of your car. This is definitely a step I will be adding a.s.a.p. 

I'm always interested to learn what other take with them and how to make my own pack more efficient, helpful and useful. What items are on your hiking pack list? Anything you absolutely have to have with you? 
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