10 ESSENTIALS: WHAT TO BRING ON A HIKE

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Hiking, trekking, or just going for a walk. To be honest, I’m not sure what the right term is, but I must say that hiking has grown on me over the years of traveling. When you start with no experience or equipment you are sure to learn what to bring on a hike, the hard way. 

I have done many different hikes, ranking from day hikes taking a few hours, 4 days heading to Machu Picchu, flat or steep as hell, and all of them require a few things. It just makes the whole experience are little more enjoyable when you are a tiny bit prepared… 

I am a strong believer that less is more and I am not one to carefully plan my treks or go with a ton of day hiking gear, but there are a few hiking essentials that you should always bring with you. A few day hiking essentials can end up being a lifesaver when taking a day hiking.

Follow this packing list and you should be covered for any basic day hikes or trail you want to take.

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WHAT TO BRING ON A HIKE?

1. WATER

The first on the hiking essentials list is water, and you want to make sure you bring enough.

It is no fun being dehydrated in blazing sunlight somewhere. At the same time remember that you have to carry it around all day so don’t overdo it.

Having a few refillable water bottles with you should do the trick.

2. FOOD AND SNACKS

Next, after water, food and snacks are the most important day hiking essentials.

Going on a hike can be extremely challenging at times and the LAST thing you want is for your blood sugar to drop extremely.

There is a long way back up or down if your knees are shaking and you are cold and sweating.

I always pack something especially delicious and nutritious for lunch for hiking and then bring extra snacks. Here bring some biscuits, chocolate, muesli bars are fruit. Basically, anything that will provide some nutrition and kickstart your blood sugar right back up.

3. BACKPACK

It is so much easier to pack what you need to bring for your hike in a backpack. Also, you will even out the weight and not end up with one side of your neck or shoulder being extremely stiff. I made this mistake going for four full days to Machu Picchu and it took almost a week to recover – not fun!

I don’t usually use specific backpacking gear when I go hiking but use a standard-sized backpack that is waterproof. Just go for something big enough to contain your day pack with necessities such as food, sunscreen, toilet paper, etc. Be sure to get a good one that won’t dig into your shoulder or have the weight completely out of balance. Check out this site for a variety of good options at good prices.

4. GOOD HIKING SHOES

what to bring on a hike

I am not saying that you have to spend hundreds of dollars on proper hiking boots but you need good hiking shoes.

Pack the ones that you know you can walk ALL day in without getting blisters. On top of that think about bounciness in terms of helping your knees.

A plus is if you have any that will cover and support your ankles. It is very easy to twist an ankle, especially when walking on uneven ground (which is the case 9,9 out of 10 times). 

If you don’t have any that you think will do then you can check out some great options here. My personal favorites are the ones from Salomon. They provide perfect support, are quite trendy at the moment, and the quality is great!

Furthermore, I never go hiking without knowing I have good travel insurance. Getting it after a twisted ankle or broken camera doesn’t work, unfortunately.

5. SUNBLOCK

It is always a good idea to bring sunblock when hiking. Even if your skin is used to the sun or if it is overcast.

Depending on the hike you do, the weather can change during the day.

Also, you are sure to sweat which both reflects the sunlight, makes your skin more exposed, and washes off some of the sun protection you might have applied earlier. 

6. SUNGLASSES

Be sure to bring a pair of sunglasses when you go on a hike. As mentioned above the weather can change and personally I get a big headache if my eyes are overexposed for several hours.

Don’t bring your fancy expensive ones as they might get scratched, dropped, or stepped on (yes I have done this twice) along the trail. 

7. SMART CLOTHES

what to bring on a hike

Be smart about what you wear for your hike and pack some extra smart clothes as well. This of course depends on your destination and everything but put some thought into exactly what you might need. Coming back to the fact that the weather might change so use your imagination.

Depending on where you are going you might want hiking pants, a rain jacket, trekking poles, or windproof clothes. In general, think waterproof, windproof, sweat efficient, and lightweight when packing.

A 6-hour hike in New Zealand screwed me over halfway in. It was 25 degrees Celcius when we started but 3 hours later the rain came and the wind picked up.

I was completely drenched and had to walk three more hours freezing my ass off.

Again just not as enjoyable as if I had brought a waterproof jacket…

These guys will have anything you might need and deal with all the best brands at really good prices.

8. CAMERA

what to bring on a hike

Now that you have all the other things in place, you want to save the memory. Sometimes hiking can provide some stunning scenery and really beautiful experiences that you want to document. You will regret not bringing any form of photography gear on your hiking trip.

I always travel with my Canon EOS M50 Mark ii. It is known to be the best camera for traveling and it’s very light and user-friendly.

9. FIRST AID KIT

Just in case someone falls, needs hand sanitizer, or gets a papercut it’s handy to have a first aid kit.

Having just a few things like a bandage or some pain killers might come in handy.

No need to overdo it though. Unless you do like crazy mountain climbing (and with that, you have my respect), then you won’t need much.

10. NAVIGATION/MAP

Lastly, you might want to bring some sort of navigational aid.

The places I have gone were all pretty popular and well walked by other hikers, so I could just pick up a map in a tourist office or information center.

This can also be nice if you have several options to return. If you plan on heading into prober wilderness then maybe bring a compass and I will pray for your safe return. 

I hope this was helpful to any new or skilled hikers out there.

Remember that you can choose exactly how big and hard you want your hike to be. If you are just getting into hiking, then start with something pretty but easy.

All in all, it should be a fun and good way to spend a day that will provide fresh air, and exercise as the sweet cherry on top. Hiking has been a great addition to my normal travel activities and has provided some amazing travel experiences.

That was it for the hiking packing list. I hope you feel ready and know what to bring on your future hike.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below

//Josephine 

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