The right gear makes hiking more enjoyable and safe.

With Covid part of our everyday lives, hiking seems like a good option for a summer activity.

It’s been a while since I’ve hit the trails. So I’ve been doing some research and purchasing some new hiking essentials. My plan is to stick to beaten paths and day hikes but even so, it’s always good to be prepared for the unexpected.

If you’re inspired by the thought of a walk in nature or what some refer to as forest bathing, here are a few things for your list.

Seven essentials:

1/ Backpack: The AmazonBasics lightweight backpack comes in 2 sizes and is relatively inexpensive. I purchased the smaller one which seems to be large enough to carry all the essentials for a day hike.

2/ Socks: Light weight, sweat wicking and breathable is the magical combination to help keep your feet comfortable, healthy and blister free. They are typically more expensive than cotton socks but also typically last longer.

3/ Sunscreen: According to dermatologists, SPF 30 is enough to keep your skin fully protected as long as you reapply every 2 hours. I’m using a sunscreen lotion base and purchased body spray, face powder and a stick for lips/eyes to reapply the protection on the trail.

4/ Windbreaker: A good windbreaker can help shield you from the sun and keep you warm if the weather changes. Plus they are lightweight and easy to pack. There are so many good options at different price points.

5/ Water Bottle: A lightweight insulated bottle will help keep your water cool or your tea hot. Experts recommend a liter for a day hike. So plan to carry 2 bottles.

6/ Whistle: It’s something that I’m adding to my pack this year in case there are bears, mountain lions or some other threatening creature on the trails.

7/ First Aid Kit: It’s good to be prepared for a bit, cut or blister. I’m adding a small kit to my pack this summer.

Other items to consider:

1/ Trail shoes or hiking boots: Both will give you more traction and more support than cross trainers. 

2/ Warm Layer: I’m taking a wool layer in case my hikes are longer than expected. It’s happened and the evenings can really cool off.

3/ Snacks: Unless you’ve done the trail before and know how long it takes, it’s best to take some snacks. Bars, trail mix, fruit and nuts are all good options and easy to pack.

4/ Hat: Another item that can help protect you from the sun and help maintain your body heat if the weather changes.

5/ Bug Spray: It depends on the conditions of where you hike. Mosquitos make bug spray an essential.

Start with the essentials. Then add and upgrade your gear once you’re hooked and have a better idea of what else you need.

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