Travel

9 hiking essentials for the perfect day on the trail – Don't Waste Your Money

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Hiking can be an excellent way to get exercise and spending time in nature can improve your mental health. Plus, since it’s an enjoyable activity for people of all ages and fitness levels, you can hike with family and friends, making memories and building relationships.
But before you head for the trails, it’s crucial to make sure you have the essentials necessary to keep you safe and have the best experience possible, from the best footwear to the best backpack coolers. This checklist can help make sure you have the most practical necessities.

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Stick with clothes and undergarments made from polyester, nylon or merino wool. Avoid cotton and denim, which hold onto moisture and keep you sweaty in heat or chilly in colder climates.
Invest in good hiking boots or trail shoes that provide support, protection and extra traction. Wear or bring layers, like a rain jacket and a warmer jacket, if you might encounter cooler temps.

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Hiking backpacks allow you to carry all your gear over long distances. They often have frames that help distribute weight and keep your back from sweating. Also, the best backpack coolers keep food and drinks insulated so that you can have cold water or lunch on the trail.

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Speaking of food and water, make sure to pack enough for your planned trek and a little extra, just in case. A good rule of thumb is to bring about 1½ to 2½ pounds of food per person per day (that’s about 2,500-4,500 calories). Along with bottled water, it’s also a good idea to have a way to purify fresh water.
If you have several hikers in your group, one or more people can carry insulated packs. The best backpack coolers can hold a sizable amount of food and drinks and have pockets for extras like utensils and hand wipes.

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Even experienced hikers can get lost. Consider carrying a map and compass with you. It’s also wise to brush up on certain navigation skills. Navigation apps on your cellphone and standalone GPS devices are also practical; just remember you may need to consider how to charge your electronic devices.

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Hopefully, no one will be hurt on your hike, but it’s wise to be prepared just in case. A hiking first aid kit should include assorted bandages, sterile gauze and dressing, medical tape, tweezers, antiseptic wipes, antihistamines and other essentials for potential injuries.

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Ward off injuries and annoyances by applying products before you begin hiking. Pack items like sunscreen and lip balm with SPF, bug spray, sunglasses and perhaps a large-brimmed hat or bandana to keep you safe from the sun, wind and insects.
Just remember to follow local rules and customs. For example, some areas will recommend the use of reef-safe sunscreens to protect the environment and others will remind you not to wear fragrant lotions that may attract bears.

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Having an array of utensils and tools can come in handy on a hike. For instance, bring along a multi-tool with implements like scissors, knives and a can opener, a flashlight, waterproof matches or lighters, carabiners and “sporks” or other eating utensils.
Make sure to pay special attention to safety: include a whistle or other way to signal for help in your gear along with fire-starting and navigation items.

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If you get caught in an unexpected storm, you’ll be glad you brought along an emergency shelter. One possibility is a bivy sack that can keep you warm and dry. A covered camping hammock is another option. Even a tarp will protect you from the elements temporarily.
Your hike will likely go off without a hitch. But preparation for possible mishaps is crucial. Make sure your cellphone is fully charged and consider bringing a portable solar power bank.
Keep your ID and any vital medical information or medications on you. Carrying some cash and a credit card in a secure place could be vital in an emergency. You may also want to invest in a protective, waterproof cover to carry these in.
With the right gear and a little preparation, you can enjoy some time in nature on an invigorating hike.
Tricia is a professional writer and editor who lives in North Texas with her family and one smelly dog. She is a wannabe problem solver, junk food maven professional coffee practitioner, web guru and general communicator. Learn More.
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