Although hiking is an all-season outdoor activity, most people indulge in my favorite pastime during the summer months. Are you going on a day hike this weekend, but don’t know what you need? Preparation is key! Use this checklist to ensure that your hiking experience is as pleasant as possible.
- Hydrate: water, electrolyte drinks, coconut water (look for 100% coconut water), all of these are better alternatives to Gatorade. Also consider investing in a CamelBak.
- Food: sardines, turkey jerky, eggs, protein bar, dark chocolate, green apple (all within my sugar free low glycemic carbohydrate diet). All of these will boost your energy and give you the salt you need after working up a sweat and drinking lots of water.
- Hiking Boots: Try them on in store before you go hiking in them and see if you can stand on the decline ramp. Consider going a size up to allow space for extra socks and foot swelling. Also ensure they’re waterproof and the correct width.
I would recommend the Lowa ‘Renegade’ style (great fashionable colors); aesthetics meets functionality, which are both equally important to me.
- Backpack: Look for backpacks with adjustable load disbursement capabilities, like the Osprey brand. Also ensure that they are large enough to hold your gear and equipment. Invest in multiple sizes and use the appropriate size for the type of hike you’re going on.
- Sunscreen: (reapply often) have an SPF of at least 70, as it can protect you from developing skin cancer.
- Bug Spray: Most bug sprays have DEET, unfortunately, but deer ticks spreading Lyme disease is real, so protect yourself. I have yet to find a natural DEET-free bug repellent that actually works, but when I find it I’ll keep you posted.
- Navigation tools: Even with all of the fancy navigation equipment out there, I have found that nothing beats a good old fashion map and compass.
- Headlamps: Sure it’s day time now, but due to unforeseen circumstances, you may still be out on the trail without daylight, and that would really suck.
- Socks: (Smart wool) non cotton (cotton absorbs moisture and leaves you with sweaty feet.) Smart wool wicks moisture away more than any other material out there. Pack an extra pair just in case you step in water high enough to get your feet wet.
- Layers of synthetic (non-cotton) clothing: It’s New England and the temperature can rapidly change minute to minute. You might become too hot or too cold in no time, so you should pack layers. Also consider investing in clothing that provide SPF protection if sensitive to the sun. But avoid cotton, as it absorbs moisture and sticks to your skin. Not a pleasant feeling.
- Hiking Partner: Hike with at least one other person just in case of an emergency. Plus you’ll have more fun!
- Sunglasses: Keep bugs, sunlight, and debris away from eyes. Plus, they also have anti-aging benefits. Squinting from the sun, over time causes the formation of wrinkles/crow’s feet around the eyes.
- Hiking polls: These are not always needed, but they’re nice to have during steep descents to minimize the stress on your knees. Most are collapsible, so when you aren’t using them you can just stuff them in your backpack!
Now that you have all that you need to be sufficiently prepared for a fun and pleasant hiking experience, go take a hike!
Written by Linda Abel
Hike with the Blue Hills Hiking Club and the Appalachian Mountain Club.
Linda Abel, BS
Holistic Health & Wellness Consultant
Fitness Nutrition & Lifestyle Specialist