So, you are looking to gear up for your next adventure hike, eh? Smart choice. Outdoor hiking seems to be a favorite pass time activity for any adventure enthusiast out there. These long, vigorous walks typically last no longer than a day but any longer than that and you might want to think about acquiring overnight backpacking equipment, as well. But that’s a post for another time. Here is odrbackpacking.com’s suggestions on “must have” outdoor hiking gear to get YOU ready to tackle that next trail safely and comfortably.
Equip Yourself With a Daypack
A daypack for outdoor hiking typically ranges from 20-40 liters in size (essentially, “liters” refers to the amount of volume or space inside of a daypack or backpack). Choosing an appropriate daypack will depend on whether you likely participate in shorter hikes or hikes that are longer. Daypacks that provide more space are suitable for longer hikes. This allows hikers to add more materials (such as food, water, extra clothing, first aid supplies, and navigational tools) to their pack. It is recommended to try on any daypacks you are considering to buy. Adjust all straps located near the shoulders, chest, and hips. Ensure the daypack is comfortable to wear and sits nicely on the lumbar portion of your back. Last thing you want is hit the trails and have an uncomfortable pack weighing down on your shoulders and hips. That would not be enjoyable. Any additional pouches on a daypack, to help carry other necessary materials, is a great bonus.
Protect the Feet
Have you ever tried on a new pair of soccer cleats as a kid and ran around for an hour or so in the warm summer heat only to feel a burning sensation on both of your ankles afterwards? If you answered yes, then it is assumed that you likely had a blister or two down there. Ouch! Hiking for a long period can be rough on anyone’s feet, too. Like any pair of new boots or shoes, they need to be worked in properly or be of a snug fit to avoid the risk of blisters. Remember, blisters are caused by the friction or rubbing of your skin against another object such as the back of a boot or shoe. Having proper fitted boots or shoes may reduce the likelihood of getting blisters. Hiking boots and shoes also serve as a cushion between the hiker’s feet and the terrain they are walking on. A good pair of boots will help absorb some of the step, saving those precious knee joints from wanting to quit to early. Also, aim to purchase a pair of hiking boots or shoes that are considered to be waterproof or water resistant. Most hiking brands nowadays that sell boots and shoes will have this feature. There’s nothing worse than having a wet pair of hiking boots. If you plan on hiking in nice weather only, then this may not be too big of a deal.
The season(s) you plan on hiking in will ultimately determine the type of clothing you wear during your hike. The winter, cold months will have adventurers resorting to cold gear and wool clothing to keep warm during their hike while the warmer months will have hikers stripping off and throwing on heat gear clothing to stay cool. Brands such as Colombia, The North Face, MEC, Eddie Bauer, and Atmosphere, to name a few, have many selections of different hiking clothing retailed at their respective stores.
Cold gear material such as fleece and wool are a great choice due to their ability to retain heat. Wool is also able to retain around 80% of heat even when if it becomes wet. It is highly recommended avoiding materials such as cotton. Cotton tends to take on the temperature it becomes accustomed to while wet. It does not carry the same characteristics as wool, unfortunately. So, if an unpredictable rainstorm breaks out during your hike and cotton is all you’re wearing, it’s going to have a hard time drying and keeping you warm. A warm toque and gloves is something to stuff in the daypack, especially if temperatures are near or below freezing. Wool socks will have the same effect as any sort of wool clothing. It is important to take care of your feet. Packing an extra pair of socks is a smart move, as well. Wet socks are a pain and can lead to unforeseen blisters.
Heat gear provides the body with the opportunity to expel heat through the clothing. Hikers that tend to sweat, especially on warmer hikes, are most appreciative of clothing that allows for temperature flow. This helps with cooling down.
Dressing for the upcoming weather is something a hiker should take into consideration, as well. Not only will a hiker be preparing for expected temperatures but they should also anticipate any potential precipitation that may occur. Having a high quality waterproof rain jacket will not only add a layer of clothing but will also keep you dry from any unexpected precipitation. Stuffing waterproof pants into your day pack may be essential to keeping your under layers dry and safe from the elements.
First Aid Materials
Whether you are hiking solo or within a group, preparing and keeping your first aid kit updated is an essential piece of equipment that should be found in any daypack. You never know when unfortunate events may occur but at least you will know that you have the basic necessary gear to help if an accident were to occur. 1 to 4 person first aid kits can be bought at just about any backpacking and camping store and they are small enough that they do not take up space inside of your daypack. This is a great first aid starter kit for any beginner hiker.
Here are additional first aid items that could be included:
- Second Skin Blister Pads: Second Skin is a great resource for open and closed blisters and it may be the difference between walking in pain for the rest of the hike or not. Blister pads help with reducing the rubbing of an object on the area of skin where the blister is located.
- Heat Pads: Great resource for any hiker who plans to trek during the colder months of the year. Even the generic brands that produce heat pads work considerably well. Be prepared.
- Cold Packs: Cold packs are an item that can be used to help reduce swelling in the case of an accident. Some outdoor first aid kits have them, but some do not. Slip one or two cold packs into your first aid kit just in case.
All in all, having a first aid kit in your outdoor hiking gear repertoire is a must. Have the ease of mind knowing that the proper materials are in your daypack if something minor or serious were to happen!
Hydration & Food
This may be an obvious topic but its important to include water and food into any daypack. Hydration is a crucial component of any sort of physical activity. Water helps replenish thirst and helps diminish any sort of risk of dehydration. Water will be one the most necessary pieces of material you bring along with you on your hike, especially during warmer weather when temperatures are high. Bringing a water filtration system may be a smart idea if water is quickly consumed and not as abundant. This will save you from packing heavy bottles of water on your back until it is ready to be drank.
Food provides the hiker with needed nutrients to enable the body to keep moving. The more you move, the more energy you will burn throughout your hike. Make sure to pack healthy, nutritional and light snacks to help you get through your hike. Packing heavy items will only make your daypack heavier. Light snacks such as nuts and granola bars are great food items to include in your daypack.
Even if you know the hiking area well, obtaining a local map of the trail you will be hiking is a crafty choice. Most trails located in national or local parks provide maps of the surrounding area at their information centers or other nearby locations. Grab one. Bringing along a compass could be the difference item in guiding a lost hiker back into the right direction, as well. Stuff it in your daypack. When used properly, compasses are an essential hiking tool.
There you go! That is odrbackpacking.com’s suggestions on the necessities of items that should always be found inside any hiker’s daypack. Ultimately, being prepared for your hike starts at home. Do a double check to make sure all items have made it into your pack. Happy hiking!