Starting a new hobby or sport is very exciting. The anticipation of doing new things channels another level of passion in our lives. One particular hobby available to everyone is hiking. One can argue that hiking is a sport, hobby or just a daily thing that we all do. It certainly does not require travelling deep into the wilderness and testing your survival skills. Hiking is as simple as walking down a sidewalk all the way to taking a stroll in the beautiful outdoors where you can escape the usual urban environment.
Regardless if where you approach it from, hiking is enjoyed by assuring you are equipped with some knowledge to enhance your journey. When stepping into an unknown environment, having the right information to build on your experience is key. Hiking can be elaborate with high tech gear but having a solid foundation is crucial for any hiker.
The foundation to get you started is a list of essential things you should consider for any hiking adventure, be it a short jaunt to off course orienteering. This list differs from that of a “10 essentials to carry in your backpack” list and is intended to help prepare you for starting you off on a new hiking hobby or enhancing your veteran hiking skill set.
The list is as follows:
Boots are critical. They do not need to be the burliest ones out there these days. The most important feature of boots or shoes, is comfort. Uncomfortable feet produce uncomfortable hikes. If you’re in a continually wet area, consider light, waterproof boots. If you’re continually on long hiking journeys with a heavy pack, consider stiffer boots with support. Whatever the terrain or environment, make sure the boots are comfortable. More importantly, spend some time breaking in new boots or shoes.
Yes, this is a no brainer but no matter how short the hike or how often you have done it, don’t leave your water at home or in the car. It’s a critical piece of any hiking adventure.
3. Map and Compass
Know how to use the two. You can reference a post discussing ‘map and compass 101’ here.
You never know when you’ll need one. These days, headlamps are compact, bright, and long lasting on one set of batteries.
5. First Aid kit
A small first aid kit can go a long ways. You can customize your own first aid kit into a small, sealable, plastic bag. Make sure you replenish any items you end up using.
6. Fire starter kit
Most fire starter kits are compact and lightweight. There’s really no reason to not have on, even on hikes. Just know how to use them – trying to figure out how a fire starter kit works when you are in desperate need of a fire, can be frustrating. Spend some time to learn how yours works. Here’s a review of some basic fire starter kit styles.
Whether you want to carry food for emergencies or just have a nice snack on the trail, food always comes in handy.
8. A set of warm layers
You do not need your entire outdoor wardrobe but carrying one piece of warm jacket, and even a hat, is always nice to have. Weather can change drastically and being prepared helps weather it out. Check out this post to provide ideas on the type of material your clothes should be, for the scenario you will need it for.
No matter how long or short your hike, make sure you tell someone of your location and plans. With all of the ways to communicate these days (text, email, etc), there’s no reason not to tell anyone where you’re going and when you plan to be back.
The list above is just a reminder that you do not need much to stay active with a hiking adventure. It’s a great way to get outdoors and reacquainted with the outer world. There are many items you can also bring, but that is entirely up to you and your comfort level. If you’re just starting out, the list above will get you started. Experience is key in understanding what your needs are.