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No matter how much you love hiking, there’s no denying it demands a lot of your body and mind. Still, I really love hiking. However, I’ve been in some sticky situations over the years. So I thought it might be fun to use these past experiences and share my tips about what to bring along on your future hikes – J.I.C. (just in case!) Take it from me, if you’re planning a long-duration hike, your preparation has to be on point.
You need to carefully examine the supplies you are taking with you to ensure you truly have everything you need for a long hike. If you’re hiking for an entire day — or longer — your supply needs are very different to the supplies you need for a quick jaunt. By preparing ahead of time, you can focus on enjoying yourself, safe in the knowledge your trusty backpack contains everything you could possibly want.
So, what should be in that trusty backpack of yours?
#1 – Medication
If you’re going to be hiking for a day or more, you need to consider your medication needs. If you take prescribed medication, then that needs to find a place in your backpack– use a small pillbox if you don’t want to bring along your entire supply.
You’re also going to need a supply of over-the-counter medicines, especially if your hike will take you awau from civilization. Standard pain medication and antacids are a necessity, as is high-SPF sunblock.
You may also want to consider taking along some water purification tablets. There’s always a risk that you’ll get lost when hiking for a long period of time; in such a scenario, you’re going to need to drink water, and water purification tablets are a light and inexpensive way to make sure you’re drinking clean water.
#2 – Foot supplies
Anyone who has ever been hiking will know that foot sweat (ew!) is a real concern. It’s not a particularly pleasant concern to discuss, but it’s an issue many hikers face, so yep — we’re gonna go there.
You should take along a foot balm, preferably something cooling, to help soothe your feet after a long time walking. You may also want to take an anti-chafing powder, especially if your hiking boots are not the best fit. A spare pair of compression socks is vital, too; you’ll likely need a change of socks for any long-duration hike, so shop today to nab a backup pair. I’m a very recent adopter of the compression sock life and I can tell you from experience, they are a GAME.CHANGER.
Finally, it’s always helpful to take blister treatments along with you on a hike. I’ve been super susceptible to blisters my whole life so this is always front of my mind. While compression socks and good hiking boots can lessen the chances of blisters, they are still possible, and nothing will make you feel miserable faster than experiencing a jolt of pain with every step. Blister Band-Aids and medical tape are an essential in my hiking bag.
#3 – A flashlight
Even if you’re hiking in the height of summer and plan to be back well before dark, a flashlight in your bag won’t hurt. If something goes wrong, a flashlight will make all the difference, allowing you to keep moving through the night rather than being stuck sitting while you wait for dawn.
The best choice for a hiking flashlight is a wind-up one. These might be somewhat irritating to use but they are safer than batteries, which can run out. If you’re thinking you could just take spare batteries along in your rucksack, a) um, heavy, and b) batteries can cause fires when stored together at close quarters. It’s far safer to opt for a wind-up version, and spend a little time winding it up with a decent charge prior to departure.
#4 – A knife or multi-tool
A small knife or a multi-tool, like a Swiss Army Knife, is an essential component of your long hike planning. You can use this for cutting food you have bought, preparing firewood, and a variety of other tasks you may need to perform in an emergency situation. Knives are light and can be slipped into a spare pocket of your rucksack, so there’s no reason not to take them.
#5 – A compass
Even if you tend to hike with apps and GPS rather than maps, a compass is another essential emergency item you’re not going to want to be without. Take the time to learn how to use the compass, then tuck it away in a pocket of your rucksack. Hopefully you’ll never need to use it, but if a situation does arise, you’ll be glad you’ve got it on hand.
#6 – A waterproof map
A compass alone can be beneficial when you’re out on a trail for a long period, but to really make the most of it, you’re going to need a map to work with it. Ideally, you want your map to be waterproof– you can either buy a pre-waterproofed map of the area you’re visiting, or laminate a standard map for yourself.
It’s wise to take a map for a wider area than you’re planning to hike. If you get lost, you could get off course, so you might wander into wider areas. A map that shows both the area you’re intending to hike to and an extra ten miles in each direction is ideal.
#7 – Protein food
It’s unlikely you’d set off on a hike without food, but it’s important to find protein-rich food to help sustain energy during a hike. While I always crave salty chips, high-protein food can keep delivering the nutrients you need and help to satiate hunger. There are plenty of super packable protein bars on the market, or you could opt for something homemade by following these protein snack recipes.
#8 – A quickly-assembled tent
Even if you’re not planning on camping, you might want to take a tent along with you. As most of this list has made clear, hiking is unpredictable, and much of your backpack needs to be dedicated to supplies that can keep you safe and comfortable if something goes wrong. A simple, quickly-assembled tent is the best way to ensure your safety and prepare you for any eventuality. Ya know, J.I.C.
Do you enjoy hiking? What are YOUR must-pack necessities? I’d love to hear! xoxo
P.S. Prefer to read about hiking? I have a 4 part book club series exploring Wild by Cheryl Strayed!