One of the best ways to get some quality time communing with nature is to hike.
There are many benefits to hiking. First, it’s great exercise that improves both your muscle strength and your endurance, without being as hard on your joints as running can be. Also, it’s a great way to de-stress. When you wander in nature, your surroundings can offer a meditative experience, which helps you relax and unwind from a hectic week.
With hiking, it’s good to be prepared, especially if you are new to the sport or aren’t familiar with a particular trail. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when dealing with nature and unpredictable events.
Following are five essentials you need for a day hike:
A good pair of hiking shoes.
I prefer hiking boots that offer support in the soles as well as a reputable brand name, such as Merrell or Columbia. It’s important to have good, sturdy shoes because on trails you can encounter rocks, rugged terrain, water, and other unsteady surfaces. If you aren’t prepared with the right shoes, you risk injury or discomfort. A good pair of hiking socks goes a log way too for added support.
There’s nothing more important on a hike than staying hydrated. If you become thirsty, then you are already dehydrated, so it’s best to take several water breaks along the way as needed. Always plan to bring more water than you think, and if you are on an unfamiliar trail, it’s good to carry a water filter or Chlorine Dioxide tablets so you can still hydrate should you run out of your own filtered water.
You are exposed to the elements when you’re hiking, so it’s good to protect your face, legs and arms with a good sunscreen. It’s also a good idea to wear a hat, preferably one that also covers the back of your neck and ears where we tend to burn without noticing. Consider also wearing polarized sunglasses which protect your eyes as well as lip balm with SPF.
First Aid Kit.
It’s good to carry some basics, like band-aids, moleskin for blisters, Tylenol or a pain reliever, and antibiotic and anti-itch cream for any bites you might get along the way. You don’t want a hike to be ruined or cut short because of a cut, scrape, or blister that could be soothed with the right products.
Map and compass.
I know we’re used to carrying our phones and having access to instant GPS, but when you’re hiking, you often can’t get a signal. You don’t want to take a wrong turn and get lost or stranded in an unfamiliar place. Carrying a compass will help you know in which direction you should start walking, and a physical paper map can help you better identify unmarked trails and forks, to help you better navigate the trail. Often, parks offer trail maps to visitors, but you can also find and order them online.
Hiking is great exercise and a chance to see spectacular views, so with these essentials ready, hit the trails and have a great time!