Hiking in nature is extremely good, and not only for your body, but also for your mind and soul. Studies have shown that hiking is more beneficial than any other type of exercise, because it keeps your mind sharper and your creativity alive, improves your relationships with friends and family, increases your fitness levels, and also helps you stay happier and calmer. Spending time in nature has plenty of amazing benefits for your stress levels and overall health. Also, hiking is undoubtedly one of the easiest and cheapest outdoor activities everyone can enjoy.
But, before you head out on that trail, you need to make sure you prepare and plan properly. You need to decide where you will go and consider the length of the trail, so that you will know exactly what to bring along in order to stay safe, comfortable, and prepared for any unforeseen circumstances. Choosing the right essentials is a key to a perfect day hike, so here's a list of the things you should bring on every hike:
Daypacks are small and lightweight backpacks used for hiking and other outdoor activities that involve more travel gear that you can carry in your pockets for one day. Daypacks can easily fit all your hiking essentials and nearly all of them have hydration packs inside and water bottle pockets on each side to make your hiking experience a lot more enjoyable.
As we mentioned earlier, almost all daypacks offer water bladder/hydration packs inside of them. These usually hold more water than a single water bottle and are more convenient because they come with a drinking tube, so you don't have to take the water out. Water is essential to keep you moving comfortably on the trail, so make sure to pack one liter of water for every hour you plan to be hiking. When it comes to long distance hikes, you should bring a water filter or purification drops and make sure to locate water sources, so that you can refill your bottles through the day instead of carrying a full pack.
A map of the area and a trusty old compass are two of the most essential things that should accompany you on every hiking trip. Getting lost outside is easier than you might think, so you definitely need a map and a compass, because they're reliable, lightweight, and will never run out of batteries, unlike a GPS device or your cell phone. But, if you're considering using only GPS or some phone apps on your phone when hiking, you will definitely have to bring a fully charged power bank.
Sun protection is also a very important thing that you need to bring along on every outdoor outing, even on cloudy days. Make sure to protect yourself from the sun and bring a sunscreen with at least SPF 30+, SPF lip balm, sunglasses, a brimmed hat, and sun protective clothing (UPF), so that you avoid getting a bad sunburn.
We can prepare as much as we can to have an awesome hiking experience, but it does need to be mentioned that it is possible to have encounters with predatory wildlife. It is important to have self defense tools at your disposal, should you encounter a bear, moose, or mountain lion. Not all animals will present a danger to you, but in the rare case where they do there are some things that you can carry to defend against possible dangerous wildlife. Bear spray is a good and quick tool that can be used to ward off predators or an aggressive moose. A shotgun is also very useful against dangerous wildlife and it allows you to keep your distance. The Benelli M4 is a well made robust shotgun that you can count on when you need it. Installing aftermarket shotgun accessories can help you become more comfortable with the shotgun if you need to use it.
Even if you're going on a morning hike, keeping a headlamp in your backpack is always a good idea. Sometimes, the hike can take longer than you expected and even though you probably have your cell phone with you and you can use its built-in flashlight, make sure to always have a headlamp with you, to help you find your way back home. Just don't forget to test your headlamp batteries before your head out.
Having some snacks with you while hiking is really important. Even if you're planning just a small day hike, always bring nutrient-dense food with enough calories to sustain your energy for an entire day of activity. Consider foods like energy bars, dried fruit, nuts, or peanut butter sandwiches. Of course, if you're headed out on a longer hike, always bring some extra calorie-rich foods.
First Aid Kit
Basic first aid kit is also an essential and a handy thing to have with you, just to be prepared in case of an injury. You can buy a pre-packaged first aid kit but because they come in many shapes and sizes, always make sure that it includes bandages and elastic wraps in case of sprains. Also, always carry hand sanitizer, some pain medication like ibuprofen, and a whistle in case of an emergency.
A knife or multi-tool
Always bring a knife or multi-tool when hiking because it will probably come in handy in a variety of situations. Knives and multi-tools have many uses and can be used for everything such as repairing gear, opening cans, preparing food, cutting clothes, and even for protection. And if you don't have a hiking knife, take a look at the great selection at WAY AND FARER and choose the perfect companion for you on the hiking trail.
Weather outside can change quickly, so you should always bring an extra insulation clothing layer regardless of the forecast for that day. Therefore, make sure to bring a lightweight down jacket that folds into a little pouch – it will still keep you warm without taking up too much space in your daypack.
If you're on a day hike, you definitely won't need a full-blown camping shelter, but you should still bring some protection from bad weather in case you'll need to spend the night outside. Make sure to take either a lightweight blanket, a bivy sack, or a tarp with you, because they will offer much needed protection from the elements.
Waterproof matches or regular matches that you've put in a waterproof container are always a good item to have with you in case of emergency. You can use them to easily start a fire or just for momentary light at night.
It goes without saying that you should always bring a trash bag to pick up your own garbage during your day hike. Bring a small trash bag with you and if you see any trash left by other hikers, pick that up and carry it out, too, until you can throw it away in a designated area. Keep in mind that you always need to leave a place cleaner than you found it.