As someone who is interested in hiking I thought it best to start by asking what the essentials are to take on hikes. In a hiking group on Facebook I posed my query- “What are your “must haves” for on the trail?”. I received a multitude of responses, some were very basic and some had broad descriptions of items I wouldn’t think to take.
Every person is going to be different and have different preferences for gear and how heavy of a pack they want to carry. Also the distance of the hike impacts the essentials needed, but there were a few standouts that would likely be useful regardless of how far.
A water vessel or filtration system is probably the most important thing. Hydration is key for safety on the trail. If you become dehydrated, well, that can lead to dire circumstances.
The next suggestion that stood out was a snack of some sort. Something that’s going to keep your energy up, one commenter suggested a payday because it could stay in the pack and be roughed up but still look edible. Others suggested beef jerky, nuts, and protein bars. Whatever your choice may be, the key seems to be something to keep your energy up to finish your hike.
Bug spray, of course if it is warm! Sunscreen is another item that should be carried at least to the trail or applied prior to leaving home.
A resounding call for comfortable shoes, hiking boots were specified but some people hike in the Vibram Fivefingers which are quite the opposite of hiking boots. Really knowing yourself and your shoe preference and choosing socks that are made to go with your shoe is the ideal thing here.
A first aid kit was the last essential that seemed to be deemed as just that- essential! Making sure to have one with you that is stocked with the items most likely to be needed. It is much better to be prepared and not need it, than need it and not have it.
Brenda Brown probably said it best “As you can tell, everyone has their own ideas. You can tolerate just about anything for a day.”
Other suggestions that will rely heavily on personal preference and the type of hiking being done are some sort of GPS system to map your trails, toilet paper or biodegradable wipes, lip balm, and some form of self defense. All of those are preference and going to depend on what the hiker is comfortable with and where the hike is taking you. A short distance hike will not require as much preparation as an all day hike. However, knowing yourself and the luxuries you will want is the thing to remember here.
Gather your gear, put on your positive attitude, and off you go! There is so much to explore in nature. Get out there and go hike!