For those of us so lucky to escape office life long enough for the great outdoors - godspeed into the wooded unknown! Summer hikes are pretty much the best, be it for a brisk hour or an overnight camp. But however long the duration or extreme of terrain yr hike is, here’s just a few helpful tips to keep in mind for next time you head out.
1. Stay on an established trail
Nothing will lead you to say “oh shit I’m lost” like veering off an already formed hiking trail. Granted, as the seasons change and overgrowth occurs, a literal well-formed path below your feet may get less and less obvious. If the walking path begins more inconspicuous, keep an eye out for bent plants that have been repeatedly tread upon. Even better, keep an eye out for trail markers. Depending on the accessibility of yr hike, these trail markers - which can vary between highlighter tape, spray paint, or physical signs - at times may be the only leading indication of which way to go.
2. Always bring along these bare essentials…
For most day hikes the idea of bringing a head lamp, extra clothing, tarp, rope, etc. bulk might seem excessive. But there’s definitely a happy-medium of preparedness just in case. My personal fave items to bring along include:
Because, life. Stay hydrated!
A FULLY CHARGED MOBILE PHONE
No, there typically aren’t power outlets in the middle of the woods. But yes, there is sometimes phone service. If you have Verizon (lol tho). Forget the sweet sentiment of escaping the stressful tech world and bring the damn phone along as a perfectly effective safety precaution. Lesser enjoyed benefits include snapping quick pics of the all the incredible plant life you might come along. Having said that, do not bring or wear headphones. Using a hike as a quick workout is a great idea but leave the musical encouragement for the gym. You’ll wanna hear that bear creepin’ up behind yr ass.
This should seem pretty obvious. And can be useful for than just yr ass. Bring it.
KNIFE OR MULTI-PURPOSE TOOL
Super helpful for sharing that apple you packed with a friend or defending yrself against a wild zombeaver.
- Emergency poncho
- Lighter or matches
- Small flashlight or headlamp
- First aid kid or at least band-aids
- Tape to remark trail path if need be
Because you could either be blinded by the sun and lose yr footing, or think that huge fallen log 20 ft ahead is actually a giant bear and scare everyone around you.
Not an essential, but can be super handy when making the way back down from a steep hike or if needing extra balance in crossing a rocky ford.
Also not an essential, but if you don’t have yr own Elizabeth along or can’t wait until after the hike for proper identification, carrying along a small region-specific plant identification book can be both helpful and enjoyable.
3. Carry a backpack / fanny-pack with a zipper
No matter how short your hike, it’s always best to come prepared with the aforementioned items. Great, now that you’ve gathered these supplies it’s time to load them up in a comfortable-to-cary bag WITH A ZIPPER. Have you ever been rushing back down a mountain racing against the sunset to realize once back at yr car that the keys managed to inconveniently jumble out of yr pocket or tote somewhere off the side of the trail never to be found again? Me neither. That’s because I always keep my hiking items safely secure inside a zipped bag.
4. Research yr hike before heading out
Learn more about your hike before hitting the trail just to make sure you go fully prepared. This can be v helpful in determining the proper clothing to wear: Shorts or long pants? Waterproof boots or sneaks? Trail profiles also give you a good sense of the duration to expect, what connecting paths to look out for, and the level of difficulty from terrain. No one wants to think they’re going along for a nice, moderate path and then get thrown into amateur rock climbing up the side of a mountain. Online you’ll often find a printable map with its trail profile and pictures that give you a better understanding of soon-to-be surroundings.
A lot of local towns with heavy hiking opportunity provide information/reviews on trails of that area, but a few good national websites to check out for more trail information are Trails.com and Backpacker.
5. Read the trail bulletin board beginning
At the head of each trail is often a well-kept bulletin board of the trail map, important notices or warnings, and the trail rules. Whether you don't plan to do the full path or have been there before, still stop to check-in for any new warnings or community fliers.
6. Keep in mind proper pet etiquette
Bringing along yr pup can be super enjoyable for the both of you, but be sure to keep in mind the enjoyment of other hikers on the trail. Like we mentioned above, always read all trail rules posted at the entrance, and note whether dogs are even permitted. Also note any leash law specifications. If you choose not to use a leash, keep one in your bag just in case. And last, don't let yr pet take a poo in the middle of a trail! Duh.
To the fellow earth baes out there, what are some of your go-to hiking supplies or safety tips? Submit yr own experiences with outdoor exploration! Share with us yr through photos, videos, stories, and so on. Have a favorite trail or hiking region? Let us know - email [email protected]!