Is there anything better than hitting the trails for an extended hike into mother nature? Day hikes are a great way to fully immerse yourself in nature without the full commitment of camping overnight. And it’s amazing how spending just a few hours outdoors can reset your spirit and refocus your mind.
Unfortunately, one of the quickest ways to ruin a good time is to underprepare for your hike. If you’re going to be on the trail for hours, it’s important to be prepared, so we’ve collected a list of 5 things you should carry with you on the trail.
There’s a reason water is number one on this list—it’s the most important item you can carry with you. The trouble with carrying water? It can get heavy, and hikers often talk themselves out of carrying enough because of it.
A good rule of thumb is to carry a half liter of water for every hour of moderate activity. Keep in mind that amount will go up if the trail you’re hiking is challenging or if the temperature is high. So, do what you must to stay hydrated—carry a hydration pack on your back, fill your day pack with plenty of water, or plan your route so that you cross water stations and can refill your containers.
Food is a great item to have on hand as an energy boost once you reach the halfway point of your hike, and it doesn’t have to take up much weight in your pack. Dried meats, energy bars, nuts, even a good old PB&J sandwich, can provide the calories needed to get you back to your car.
I know what you’re thinking—the whole point of a day hike is to conclude the trek by the end of the day. Even the most seasoned hiker will tell you that accidents can happen, and wrong turns can be made, delaying your return and forcing you to chase daylight.
Give up a few ounces in your pack and take a high-quality outdoor flashlight along on your hike. We love the Guardian 1300XL Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight for the ultra-bright, ultra-clear light it produces (the fact that it is currently on sale for a ridiculously low price doesn’t hurt either).
If you’re going to be on the trail for several hours, you’re going to need to reapply sunscreen regularly. Throw a tube of broad spectrum, water and sweat resistant sunscreen in your pack…and remember to cover as much skin as possible with UV protective clothing: pants, long-sleeved shirts, hat…you know the drill.
Fully Charged Cell Phone
I know some hiking purists will say you can’t really enjoy a hike with the threat of a ringing cell phone knocking around in your pack. But, I’m telling you, being without a phone when you need one is a bad predicament to be in.
If you are hiking alone, take a cell phone. If you are hiking with a group, at least one person should be carrying a cell phone. Put it on silent….heck, power it all the way down if it enhances your hiking experience. But, if someone in your group sprains an ankle four hours into a hike, you’ll be thanking me for pressuring you to take it…and you’re welcome.
(Bonus tip: It never hurts to throw a small emergency kit in your pack to treat blisters, splinters, stings, and other unexpected surprises that can pop up on the trail).
Day hikes are a great way to enjoy time in nature but, like all hikes, they require some preparation. Follow these tips to keep yourself hydrated, healthy and prepared for any…unexpected events.
Now get out there and enjoy the great outdoors!