What do you need to go on a safe hike can vary with the type of hiking you want to do and the terrain you will be hiking in.
5 Essential items for hiking
- Head gear and other clothing
- Maps, GPS, Compass
- Water, snacks for energy
- Walking stick or hiking pole.
Foot ware. What you wear on your feet is one of the most important part of your hiking gear. The wrong boots or shoes can make hiking painful. Choose your boots/shoes carefully. What type of hiking will you be doing? Desert, mountain, paved, rocky, wet, dry? Make sure they fit and be sure to leave enough room for the toes! Walk around the store in them. You should leave about 1-1/2″ i n front so that when you walk down hill your toes will not touch the end of you boot/shoe. I went up a full size to get the clearance I wanted and to accommodate thicker socks. How are your ankles? I like the higher topped boots/shoes to help strengthen my ankles, especially when walking in a rocky environment. May just prevent a sprained ankle! Lots of decisions, lots of choices. Ask the sales person for some help in choosing your boot/shoes, especially in an outdoor store like REI.
Head gear. Again this is your choice to wear a hat or not. Where will you be hiking? A forested area, desert, mountains. Where ever you hike a hat is a good choice, to help block the sun, keep the rain off your head, bugs getting in your hair or just to look cool. In the desert it is most important to keep that hot sun off your face and ears. Sun burn can be painful and of course there is the chance for cancer! Clothing. Wear what is comfortable for you and will protect you from the elements. Shorts are fine, long pants, kilts ( my favorite) long sleeve shirts, short sleeve. It is best to dress in layers. That way if the day starts out cool and warms up later you can remove the various layers as the day goes on. Just remember what environment you will be hiking in and protect your body accordingly.
Maps. Always take a map of the trail with you! Learn how to read a map and use it with a compass. Batteries for your gps do run down at the wrong time! There are many online resources for getting maps, as well as tracks for your gps. I will address those resources later and will provide links to sites. Stores like REI, Sportsman Warehouse, Summit Hut, etc all have maps, compasses and GPS units.
Water Not a piece of equipment but one of the most important things to take on a hike, especially in the desert! I like to take about 2 -3 liters . Get into the habit of sipping often throughout the day . In more extreme temperatures, hydration should be a constant flow. Aim to get 1 liter of water in your system every hour on hot, humid days or when hiking at higher altitudes or in the desert. Seek shade and take a big break around lunchtime and avoid unnecessary water loss. For most day hiking 2-3 liters should be enough depending on the climate and the distance you will be hiking. Plan accordingly. Snacks are important to keep up your energy while hiking. Start off with a good breakfast. Fruit, protein bars, trail mix are all good choices to nibble on while taking a break.
Walking Sticks/Poles. This again is a personal preference. A walking stick or pole can be a great help in many ways. Balance, warding off creatures, crossing a creek or stream, walking down a steep incline, you get the picture! Some prefer 2 , Right now I just use 1. Again check out the various outdoor stores and find one (or 2) that suit you.