When you are on vacation, there are a few things as exciting as a hiking trip. Experiencing the vast and beautiful wilderness, the suspense of not knowing what you will confront around the next bend, the physical challenge (especially if you are climbing) and the excitement of solving problems, overcoming obstacles and ticking off achievements, all in a single day, make hiking almost synonymous with non-stop adventure. However, if something goes wrong and you are not prepared for it, fun can quickly turn to disaster. Owing to our urban upbringing, most of us are ill-equipped to solve problems and survive in the wild, which makes proper preparation crucial. Here are 7 essential items to carry when you go hiking.
1. Water and Food
Technically, these are two items, but I’m putting them together because they both serve the same essential purpose: nourishment for your body. No matter what the weather, you cannot afford to be careless about drinking water. Dehydration is the last thing you would want to experience. It can set in rapidly, cloud your thinking and ruin your trip in a matter of minutes. Carry enough water for the entire length of your planned trip, and then about 40% extra. I knows it weighs quite a lot, but you need to come to terms with the fact that this will be the heaviest load of your trip (and the most essential).
Food is equally important. As a rule of thumb, you should carry the equivalent of at least 2,000 calories with you. Proteins (for fatigued muscles) and complex carbs (for energy) are both essential components. Canned tuna fish, whole grain bagels, peanut butter, nuts, dried fruits and energy bars are all items that you can easily carry. The reason I’m emphasizing on extra food and water is that these are the first things you will need and look for, in case your plan goes awry and you are stuck somewhere for longer than you had bargained.
2. A First Aid Kit
Sprains, cuts, bruises and other health related problems are not unusual on a hiking trip. One also needs to be prepared for the possibility of snake or insect bites. The immediate answers to all these problems are found in a first aid kit. The essentials in a first aid kit are a pain reliever, gauze, tape, sterile pads, cotton balls, band-aids, burn cream, sting relief and antiseptic wipes. If you are in a region that has poisonous snakes, you will need a snake bite kit too.
A first aid kit is an essential item to carry when you go hiking but it is as important to know how to handle it, in case you face a hiking emergency. This is especially important in the case of a snake bite kit. Misusing the kit can cause more damage than the bite itself.
Your plan may be to get back way before it gets dark, but you cannot ever exclude a flashlight from your list of essential items to carry when you go hiking. You must always be prepared for that ‘one in a million’ emergency that could have you trapped till dusk, darkness or even the next day. Sharp and economical LED lights are easily available these days. It is important to get one that lasts 8 hours or more on regular batteries, and then carry a spare set of fresh batteries as well.
4. Swiss Army Knife
This has to be one of the most useful hiking gadgets ever invented, and the scissors, pen knife and compass could come in handy in more situations than I can possibly enumerate. If you don’t have a Swiss army knife, make sure you carry the three items I just mentioned separately.
Not many people would think of a whistle as an essential item to carry when you go hiking, but it is a vital need. if you are caught in an emergency, the sound of a whistle will carry much further than a shout or a scream and alert anyone around.
6. Rain Gear
If rain wets you through, and a cold wind picks up afterwards, your body can rapidly lose heat and you will be risking a major bout of illness. Worst of all is if you are stuck for some reason, apart from being wet and cold. That is why, even though it can be bulky, rain gear is one of the most essential items to carry when you go hiking.
If there is a good map or guide available of the place you are going to, you must carry it with you. It is easy to get lost in the wilderness, and if you begin panicking, you will stop thinking. At such a time, a map is as objective an ally as you could hope for.
While these are certainly the most essential items to carry when you go hiking, this list is by no means exhaustive. Depending on the length of your trip you may need a change of clothes of a specific kind, and extra socks and under-garments (it is dreadful to wear wet ones). It is also necessary to put in sanitary towels, if you are expecting your period, and waterproof matches (to light a fire). The basic idea is to plan well and be prepared to deal with emergencies of every kind. What would you include in this list?
Top image source: slovenia.info