Hiking is a wonderful way to experience nature, with quiet trails leading through scenic areas – the likes of which are rarely seen unless on foot. For those looking for a hiking experience on a path less travelled, the sightseeing possibilities are endless. It does, however, present some challenges: what to take with you should be top priority before setting out on your hiking adventure.
You can discover trickling streams or raging rivers, varied plant life from wildflowers to huge trees showing their resilience as they reach to the sky. Wildlife too reveals its magic, as birds fill the air with random song.
If you’re a novice hiker, you’ll want to look for trails that are well worn and easy to navigate. There are many trails within national parks that are purpose and offer leisurely walks through stunning natural scenery. Whatever kind of hiking expedition you embark on, whether it be for a short afternoon walk or an excursion lasting days, here are some basics you’ll want to have with you along the way.
Hiking boots – Comfortable footwear is always important when setting out on a long walk or hike. What would otherwise be an enjoyable hike can quickly turn into an uncomfortable experience when your feet hurt! To handle the various types of hiking conditions you might encounter, wear flexible, lightweight but sturdy hiking boots or shoes that provide sufficient cushioning and support.
Hiking Pack or Backpack – A proper hiking day-pack or backpack is the best way to carry belongings when hiking. Carry bags or shoulder bags should be avoided as you’ll want your arms free for proper balance when negotiating uneven or steep surfaces. Hiking packs also offer ample space for much of the equipment that you’ll need.
The Right Clothing – The clothing you’ll need depends, of course, on the climate you’ll be hiking in. Even if it’s a cool day or you’re in a colder climate, it’s not uncommon to warm up when hiking, so dress in layers so that you can remove later on. A hat is beneficial for sun protection and a rain jacket goes along way in the event of a shower. It’s not uncommon in some hiking areas for quick bursts of rain to come through, so you’ll want to be prepared. Generally, hikers should wear loose, comfortable clothing so as not to restrict movement.
Insect Repellent – Insect repellent is an absolute must, offering relief from those annoying insects.
Sun Protection - Even at a high altitude the sun's rays are strong. It's essential that you always carry sunscreen a hat and sunglasses.
Water and Healthy Snacks – Staying cool and hydrated is one of the most important considerations on any hike, so be sure to take an ample supply of water. Your water intake will depend on many factors including the weather and your own body temperature, but if you’re out in the sun and perspiring, it’s always a good idea to take rest periods in order to cool down and replenish your liquids. Bring some low GI snacks too such as power bars, nuts or fruit to maintain energy.
Utility Gear – The gear you bring depends on the type and length of hike you embark upon. If you’re planning a longer trekking expedition to a remote area, consider taking a compass, some matches, a first aid kit, flashlight and even toilet paper. A whistle is a common call in an emergency and the shrill sound can help pinpoint your location if needed.