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Pack These 12 Essentials Before You Go on a Hike

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Summertime hiking essentials

By Lindsay Hausch

A summer hike is the perfect chance to see new places, take in the views, and get in your dose of exercise. Of course, what to bring with you depends on how long you’ll be gone and how difficult the terrain. This list assumes you’re going on an invigorating but not-too-difficult day trip – i.e., not an intense or overnight voyage. With that in mind, here’s everything you need to be ready for a fun summer hike!

Essential Gear

  • Close-toed shoes. Full stop. Never go on a hike in sandals or flip flops unless you want to scrape your feet and sprain your ankles. Even worse, unstable footwear can lead to falls, which can lead to injuries. Since this is not an aggressive hike, sneakers whose treads aren’t worn are sufficient – you don’t need full-on hiking boots or special trail walk-ing sneakers (though if you have them, by all means).
  • Socks. Duh, you say, I’m already wearing shoes – of course I’m wearing socks. Great! But make sure they aren’t the cute, low-cut ankle socks you wear running – socks that extend farther up the shin will help prevent you from getting rashes if you brush up against poison ivy or other itch-inducing flora.
  • Backpack. We’re going to recommend some things to carry with you, below, so you’ll need a small backpack to carry those things with you. If you’re travelling with small chil-dren who can’t carry their own things, you may need a slightly larger pack to carry the things they’ll need, too.
  • First-aid supplies. You don’t want to be caught out if something goes wrong, even if it’s a simple scrape or cut. This first-aid kit for hiking is a great place to start.
  • Clothing. Yes, obviously you want clothing. Short sleeves? Long sleeves? This depends on how hot it is and how buggy you think it might be where you’re going. If you have hik-ing pants that can zip off into shorts, that’s ideal. If not, lightweight pants or shorts are the way to go. You may want to transition from long sleeves to short sleeves on your upper body, too, as you heat up, so a lightweight, long-sleeve shirt is great to start, with a light-weight t-shirt under it.
  • Bug spray. Up to you, depending on how you feel about bugs, but if you’re deep in the woods during mosquito season, it’s not a bad idea.

Tasty Snacks: Getting good exercise means you need good fuel to keep going. To sustain your energy, be sure to bring along some healthy eats. GORP (good old raisins and peanuts) is always a popular and easy-to-make hiking staple, but other easy snacks can include apples, beef jerky, fruit leathers, and protein bars. These nutrient rich foods give your body the energy it needs to keep you moving on the trail.

Plenty of Water: Bring a water bottle (or bottles) large enough for your trip. An active person should consume more than 16 ounces before an outdoor activity and 6 to 12 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes they are outside.  A good rule of thumb is to pack a liter per hour you’re on the trail, but you may need less if weather and terrain are more mild. Be sure to drink a glass of water before and after the hike.

Map and Compass: You can bring a phone along, but there’s a good chance you won’t get reception where you’re going, so that mapping app won’t be super useful. Plan your route before you leave, and bring a physical map of where you’re going (you may be able to pick one up at the trailhead). Bring a compass, too. It may sound a little much, but if somehow you get lost you’ll be glad you had it.

Sunscreen and Hat: Sun protection is a must when it comes to time outdoors. A hat can help keep you cool and comfortable, but won’t prevent from sunburn from your extremities. Be sure to apply a quality sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher before you hit the trail, and reapply every 80 minutes.

Bag for Trash: Keep the natural environment you’re enjoying as pristine as possible! Collect your wrappers and any other trash you create – or collect – along the way in a small plastic bag that you can then dispose of properly when you get back to civilization.

Post-Hike Relief Gear: By the time you get back to your car, you’re probably going to be sweaty, thirsty and hungry. You’ll be glad you packed a towel, change of clothes, extra water and more snacks in the car.

 

Get more tips for summer, like How to Prepare for Summer Fun or How to Build Your Own First Aid Kit.

©Johnson & Johnson Inc. 2017

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