What to Bring On a Hike: Mountain Hiking Essentials

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It seems this past year that we are all getting a bit more active and checking out a few of the 1,244 registered hiking trails in the country. Hiking is something that all ages can have fun with, and enjoy nature and a breath of fresh air while we are doing it. 

If you are getting ready for hiking season, you might be wondering what you should pack in your bag so that you have the essentials but aren’t weighed down. Check out the ultimate what to bring on a hike list, and you’ll always be prepared.

What To Bring On A Hike Checklist

You might be able to get away with walking out of the door empty-handed for some mild hikes that are close to home. But, for many of the serious hikes, you will be on the trails for at least several hours, and packing a bag full of necessities could be the difference between survival and perishing.

Other than your phone, what can you think off the top of your head that you might need on a hike?

Before You Leave

The things you do before hiking are just as important as the items that you pack to bring with you.

Have a filling breakfast packed with healthy proteins and carbs. And take the time to use the bathroom after breakfast.

Stretch out your legs and upper body before hitting the trails to make sure that you’re limber and ready to go. Then throw on some sunscreen on any exposed skin and double-check your checklist.

Essential Footwear

The right outfit isn’t about looking good in the woods; it is about functionality and comfort. If you dress for fashion instead of comfort, you might find that you are too uncomfortable to get through your hike and want to quit halfway through.

Out of all articles of clothing, the right footwear is the most important hiking essentials. High-quality hiking boots will support the ankle and have a decent grip on the bottom so that you don’t fall.

Extra Layers

The temperature can change at any time throughout the day and as you go into different elevations and through shaded and sunny areas. 

Tie a long-sleeved shirt around your waist, and throw a warm hat into your bag. If you intend on hiking past sunset, take into account the temperature drop that will occur.

Water And Electrolytes

Do you know how much water to bring on your hike? Experts say that we should have 16oz for every hour that we are hiking.

For hot days, you should up the amount. And, if you are not sure how long you’ll be gone, you should always overestimate the amount of water to bring.

A camelback is a great way to bring a few liters of water without having to carry any bottles. With a camelback bag, you can eliminate another backpack and throw powdered electrolytes into it to stay hydrated.

Nutrient-Dense Snacks

What is your favorite hiking snack? Your pack should always have several snacks to fuel you through your hike and one extra snack in case you get lost.

Nuts make a great snack but go for unsalted or lightly salted so that you aren’t drinking all of your water to wash them down. Protein bars are a top recommendation because they will fill you up and keep you powering through the hike. 

Basic First Aid

A basic first aid kit is going to be your insurance policy out on the trails. We all hope that we will never need to use it, but it is there just in case we do. Even in the instance of our hiking boost giving us a blister and needing a bandaid to cover it. So that we can carry on without pain, a first aid kit often saves the day.

Your first aid kit doesn’t have to be big. Just a few bandages, antiseptic, and maybe a pair of rubber gloves should do it.

If you will be in an area where there are lots of biting bugs. Maybe some insect bite relief ointment, too. That is often not an emergency, but an itchy bug bite can certainly be aggravating and possibly ruin a hike.

Make Sure You Bring Protection

So, you plan to be out on the trails hiking all day? Make sure you bring protection.

There could be wild animals of all shapes, sizes, and with varying levels of aggression on your hike. This isn’t to scare you but to educate you and prepare you.

A small can of bear spray is lightweight enough to put in your backpack. (Or clip on the side) and could save your life if approached by a bear, wild cat. Or any aggressive animals that you might come across.

Items on your what to pack for a mountain hike list should take into account the very things that you hope not to encounter.

Use The Buddy System

Bringing a friend isn’t necessary, but it could make the hike more fun, and safety is always in number. If you get hurt, lost, or in danger on the trail having a friend with you could make all the difference.

If you insist on hiking alone, that is fine. But, always make sure that you let someone know where you are going and when you plan on being back; that way, there is a record of your approximate location in case something happens, and they have to send emergency services to look for you.

Especially if you are mountain hiking somewhere like Kilimanjaro, an emergency lifeline is going to be essential.

Learn The Trails

If this will be your first time hiking through this area, it is always a good idea to learn the basic layout of the trails first. Grab a paper map if there is one available because chances are that your cell phone might lose signal at some point.

At least, that’s what many of us hope for is to be so connected with nature that we forget about our addiction to our phones. Then some are saying absolutely not and buy the best cell phone signal booster known to man so that they never have to do without.

Hiking Safety 101 

Hiking is all about getting out in nature, challenging yourself, and having a good time. Don’t leave home without checking off the essential what to bring on a hiking checklist, and you will always have water, snacks, and everything you need in case of an emergency so that you can enjoy yourself.

When you get back from your hike, be sure to check out some of our other helpful life hack posts.

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