There are only so many times you can go to the gym before you give up on it. Hiking, along with being a form of exercise, is an activity that totally separates you from civilization for a little while.
As fun as it sounds, that is exactly why you should be careful about what you pack for your hiking trip. You will have very little access to any store in case of an emergency and you have to always be equipped for any situation. Here is a day hike checklist that will help you categorize what you should take with you and what is not really needed.
Essentials for Day Hiking
As with every trip, there are things you need and then there are items that you might need. While you can skip a few of the latter depending on how much weight you are comfortable with lugging around, you can never forget the essentials. Here are a few items that you must include in your packing.
Backpack- It is important to choose your backpack well. Most backpacks are heavy by itself and everything that you carry inside it will obviously add to the weight. Therefore, your backpack should be as light as possible to begin with. Don’t forget to pay attention to the capacity of the backpack you purchase.
Sun Screen- While Vitamin D is good for your health, too much of sun will cause you skin cancer at the most and a few sunburns at the least. Therefore it is very important to carry a bottle of sunscreen with you. Ideally, you should choose one with SPF 50+. Anything less than that might work on a daily basis but you won’t always get the advantage of finding a shelter when it gets too hot.
First Aid Kit- Being cut-off from access to any facilities includes a doctor or a hospital. For any injury, major or minor, you will be at the mercy of your own skills. As it is, first-aid is essential even if there is a hospital nearby. You can decide the components of your first-aid kit based on your own health requirements. But do carry some antiseptic, cotton, Band-Aids and bandages at the very least.
Scrapes are the most common wounds you are likely to suffer during hiking. Without proper care, you could easily catch an infection. Apart from that, remember that you could easily develop a headache due to prolonged sun exposure or even be prone to fainting. It is better to check with your doctor before you choose your medication.
Map: Hiking through the wilderness is a brilliant experience as long as you do not get lost in the wild. Plan a route before-hand using a map and mark it so that it is easily visible. Make sure you carry the same map with you on your day hike. This way, there will be little possibility of mistakes on the route.
GPS: There might be situations that could require you to change routes. You could end up with a landslide blocking your path or there could be countless other obstructions. Moreover, there is no guarantee that someone would be available to guide you properly in that situation. You can easily resolve this by carrying a GPS with you.
Even if there is no obstruction, and you are sticking to your determined route, a GPS will guide you better than a map could. For your safety, it is better to carry both.
Proper Shoes- While you hike, you will be traveling through a lot of uneven ground and you can’t afford to get a sprain or damage your footwear. You won’t always find some transport in case you do injure yourself. The easiest option is to get a pair of hiking boots if you plan to hike often.
You could also probably make do with your everyday boots if you don’t want to spend too much. But be careful and choose shoes that support your ankle and never even think about hiking in heels.
Flashlight- One thing you absolutely do not want is to get stuck in the wilds after dark without a source of light. Even if you plan to end your hike while the sun is still out, you might get stuck. Carry a flashlight with you at least. Before you pack, check whether the batteries are still working and pack a few extra ones just in case. You might want to add some matches or a lighter as well, just in case you need to make a fire.
Tent- Even if it is a one-day hike, carry a tent with you. It might make your backpack heavier and you might not even need it most of the time. But just in case you need to spend a night outdoors, you will be thankful for it. Sleeping in the open would not be possible if it is raining and you would need the protection from the weather.
Food and Water- Needless to mention, you have to carry enough food and water. In fact, make space for some extra sustenance as well if you can. You can decide the amount based on your own needs. But make sure that the food you carry will last. Pack a lot of durable items that won’t spoil in the heat and that won’t taste bad if eaten cold.
Apart from the essentials, you can pack a few extra clothes if you have space for it. If the weather gets cold at night, carry some warm clothes as well. You can also pack some deodorant, binoculars, a notebook and other extra stuff that you wish to.
But these are not exactly essentials and if you feel that they are weighing you down too much, chuck them out. It would be easier to adjust to a few discomforts than panting and struggling with a heavy luggage.
Wrapping It up
If you are a beginner, then stick to well-traveled and well-known routes and if you can, always ask someone who has hiked through that route before. Remember, information available on the internet might not always be accurate. So if it is possible, do not always plan according to the reviews you find online.
Apart from being a careful packer, dress appropriately for hiking. If you can, avoid wearing stuff that can snag on a stray branch and tear easily. Along with choosing a proper pair of shoes, choose the rest of your clothing according to the weather.