The 10 Essentials Ten things to have on every hike.
1. Appropriate footwear. For a short day hike that doesn’t involve a heavy pack or technical terrain, trail shoes are great. For longer hikes, carrying heavier loads, or more technical terrain, hiking boots offer more support.
2. Map and compass/GPS. A map and compass not only tell you where you are and how far you have to go, it can help you find campsites, water, and an emergency exit route in case of an accident. While GPS units are very useful, always carry a map and compass as a backup.
3. Extra water and a way to purify it. Without enough water, your body’s muscles and organs simply can’t perform as well. Consuming too little water will not only make you thirsty, but susceptible to hypothermia and altitude sickness. Dehydration can also occur when not enough water is consumed. Dehydration is serious and can cause death.
4. Extra food. Any number of things could keep you out longer than expected: getting lost, enjoying time by a stream, an injury, or difficult terrain. Extra food will help keep up energy and moral.
5. Rain gear and extra clothing. Because the weatherman is not always right. Dressing in layers allows you to adjust to changing weather and activity levels. Two rules: avoid cotton (it keeps moisture close to your skin) and always carry a hat.
6. Safety items: fire, light, and a whistle. The warmth of a fire and a hot drink can help prevent hypothermia. Fires are also a great way to signal for help if you get lost. If lost, you’ll also want the whistle as it is more effective than using your voice to call for help (use 3 short bursts). And just in case you’re out later than planned, a flashlight/headlamp is a must-have item to see your map and where you’re walking.
7. First aid kit. Prepackaged first aid kits for hikers are available at any outfitter. Double your effectiveness with knowledge: take a first aid class with the American Red Cross or a Wilderness First Aid class.
8. Knife or multi-purpose tool. These enable you to cut strips of cloth into bandages, remove splinters, fix broken eyeglasses, and perform a whole host of repairs on malfunctioning gear.
9. Sun screen and sun glasses. Especially above treeline when there is a skin-scorching combination of sun and snow, you’ll need sunglasses to prevent snow blindness and sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
10. Daypack/backpack. You’ll want something you can carry comfortably and has the features designed to keep you hiking smartly. Don’t forget the rain cover; some packs come with one built-in. Keep the other Essentials in the pack and you’ll always be ready to hit the trail safely.
This fact sheet was originally created by and is reprinted with permission of American Hiking Society
What to wear when hiking
Here are some tips on the different types of material clothes are made of and which might be the best. I Prefer Wool mixed with some Synthetics, that seems to work the best for me.. I always use wool and nylon mix socks winter or summer…
Cotton – This is the most commonly found fabric in your closet. It is soft, comfortable, and practical for everyday situations. However, it is not suitable for hiking. Cotton readily absorbs and retains water, leaving the hiker wet, which is a dangerous situation in both cold and hot weather. Wearing cotton socks is a particularly quick way to get blisters on the trail.
Wool – Some may remember with horror the days of wearing an itchy wool sweater. Wool used in outdoor clothing today is much softer to the touch, while still retaining the fabric’s many benefits. One of the nice properties of wool is that it wicks moisture away from the skin, making it an ideal fabric for socks and base layers. Even when wet, wool does an exceptional job retaining heat. This makes it particularly suitable for cooler weather. Another benefit of wool is that it does not tend to retain odors as much as synthetics do.
Synthetics – Today, the majority of sports clothing is made from synthetic fabrics. Synthetics encompass a wide array of slightly different materials that are specific to a brand. These materials are good at pulling moisture away from the skin and through itself where it can evaporate in the air.
Fleece – Fleece can be tightly woven to provide greater wind protection or knitted loftier for additional warmth. Many environmentally-conscious hikers enjoy fleece since companies frequently recycle old plastic bottles to create this fabric.