5 Essential Items to Take on a Hike
What to pack on a hike 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 change throughout the world, there are many items that we all take on our favourite walks. Below are a few essentials that I think make for a better hike and some that are a must so you live to tell the tale if things go wrong. I have excluded the bare basic of water because that should be a no-brainer.
#1 - Smart Phone & Power Case
Part of the appeal 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 smart phones becoming better equipped with more storage, better cameras & useful 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 travelled, elevation climbed and calories burned is as simple as pressing a button on a fitness app. Want to listen to some great music then your phone can do that too. Feel like ordering a pizza for when you get home, well you get the idea.
She Just Remembered Nobody Uses a BlackBerry Anymore
One essential reason for taking that phone is of course safety. If something goes wrong and you are in the middle of nowhere you have the ability to call for help, even if you don't have coverage (dial 112). If you plan on using your phone a lot for photos, music or GPS tracking then your battery is going to be drained pretty quickly, which is why it is always smart to carry a power case. They are pretty cheap if sourced off 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 Twitter feed but it certainly has the ability to enhance your hiking experience and is a crucial safety item for any hiker.
#2 - Rain Jacket & Fresh Socks
Unless you are going out in the middle of summer (English hikers excluded) there is very little chance of rain. Autumn, Winter & Spring are a different story though so being prepared is a must. There is nothing worse than getting stuck in a heavy downpour and feeling like a drowned rat 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 wind breaker. The extra pair of socks are there just in case. Having traversed trails that resembled rivers after a quick downpour it is such a relief to put on a dry pair of socks and continue on your journey. If it isn't wet then they make for a great pillow when you take a break.
Those Clouds Look Wet
#3 - Survival Kit
You never know what is going to happen out on a hike and if you plan on going to a trail that isn't one with high traffic then being prepared for the worst is essential. Creating your own survival kit can be a fun little experience and you can include anything you don't mind carrying in your backpack. Some items I carry on every hike just in case include; matches, swiss army knife, first aid supplies, a space blanket and a small torch.
First aid supplies are a must just in case you or someone in your group has a fall or needs some blister relief. The bare essentials should include bandaids, iodine, paracetamol, bandages and strapping tape. Again you can put anything you think you will need in your kit that won't weigh you down, you never know when it will come in handy.
Frank, I Think It's Run Out of Batteries Again
#4 - Trail Mix
A good hike is not complete without a tasty bag of trail mix. As well as providing much needed energy on the longer hikes it is also a delicious 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 and is easy to prepare.
Everyone has their own recipe, secret ingredient or guilty addition, which is what makes it special.
If This Happens Then You Have Done Something Wrong
#5 - Something Special
While trail mix is nice, chocolate is better. It doesn't need to be a full block of Dairy Milk but taking something special just makes a hike better. Don't limit yourself to chocolate though. A signed Survivor buff, a personal memento, a book, your girlfriend, anything you can carry that will add the cherry on top on what will be nice hike.
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.
This May Not Be Practical
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.