What to pack on a hike? That is an age-old question that has been asked by every hiker as they stare at their empty pack the night before a hike.
While hiking conditions differ throughout the world, many items are favorite for our walks.
Here I look at few essentials which make for a better hike.
I have excluded the bare basics, like having enough food and water, because that should be a no-brainer.
1) Smart Phone and Power Banks
Part of the attraction of hiking is to get away from the feeling of attachment to technology. But it is no excuse to leave it all at home.
With smartphones becoming equipped with more storage, better cameras, and useful map apps I see them as a way to enhance your hiking experience provided you don’t have them in your hand the whole time.
Sharing the amazing landscapes you visit with your friends on Instagram is as easy as whipping your phone out of your pocket.
Tracking how far you have traveled, elevation climbed and calories burned is as simple as pressing a button on a fitness app.
One essential reason for taking that phone is of course safety.
If something goes wrong and you are in the middle of nowhere, you can call for help, even if you don’t have coverage (dial 112).
If you use your phone a lot for photos and GPS tracking, then your battery is going to be drained pretty quickly. You should always carry a power case or a power bank.
They are pretty cheap if sourced from Amazon or eBay and provide at least another 4-5 hours of battery life, so you don’t stress about having a dead battery.
I’m not suggesting that you spend your entire hike staring at your Instagram feed, but it certainly can enhance your hiking experience and is a crucial safety item for any hiker.
2) Rain Jacket and Fresh Socks
When going out in the autumn, winter or spring (and in some areas on summer also), be prepared for the rain. There is nothing worse than getting stuck in a heavy downpour and feeling like a drowned the rest of the hike.
Packing a thin rain jacket is not only great protection from the wet stuff but if things get a bit windy it doubles as a windbreaker. The extra pair of socks is there just in case.
Having crossed trails that resembled rivers after a quick storm, it is such a relief to put on dry socks and continue on your journey.
If it isn’t wet, then you can use them as a pillow when you take a break.
We use these classic hiking socks for trail running and hiking (but they are not best for wet conditions).
3) Survival Kit
You never know what is going to happen out on a hike. If you are going to a trail that hasn’t high traffic, then being prepared for the worst is fundamental.
Creating your survival kit can be a fun little experience, and you can include anything you don’t mind carrying in your backpack. Some items you should consider for your package are Swiss army knife, matches, first aid supplies, a space blanket and a small and light torch.
Photo by Ian Keefe on Unsplash
First aid supplies are a must just in case you or someone in your group has some problems. The bare essentials should include band-aids, iodine, paracetamol, bandages and strapping tape. You can take anything you think you will need with you, as long as they won’t take too much space and weigh you down.
4) Energy and motivation boost
A good hike is not complete without tasty energy bars.
As well as providing much-needed energy on the more extended hikes it is also an excellent distraction for when the legs start to get tired.
Full of energy needed for those long hikes through the wilderness, it doesn’t take up much space.
Hiking is fun but sometimes we forget to stop
While energy bars give you an extra boost, something special like chocolate just makes a hike better. Don’t limit yourself to chocolate though. Anything you can carry that will add motivation makes your hike better. The best motivator is to have someone to hike with.
If you have a few spots on a regular hike that you want to spend time at but feel like you have to keep moving then take a book next time and spend an hour just relaxing.
Hiking is fun but sometimes we forget to stop and take it all in so having something special that will make us stop is only a good thing.
What is something that you can’t leave home without? Comment in the section below, especially if you like to pack something out of the ordinary.