Hiking Essentials for Beginners

Jun 02, 20

Hiking Essentials for Beginners

One of the best ways to explore the great outdoors is to sling on a backpack and go hiking. That doesn’t mean you have to scale Mount Everest. A hike could be anything from a ramble through the New Forest in Essex to traversing Dragon Mountain in South Africa.

Whether you prefer slow rambling hikes or traversing death mountains there are a few things, considered hiking essentials, that you need to take with you. We’re going to assume you have all the right apparel; strong footwear, strong trousers, strong shirt. Strong everything, really. If your clothing shows even a hint of weakness, nature will find it and rip it apart.

The right clothing is, of course, essential, but in this article, we’re going to look at the essential items you need to take with you; the stuff you put in your backpack.

Backpack

Couple standing near scenic lake with backpack on

Let’s start with the backpack. This is, of course, an essential item for your hiking adventure. If you’re just heading out on short, simple hike then an 11 to 20-litre backpack will probably be sufficient. A foldable backpack is especially handy because you simply fold it and tuck it away at the end of the day if you’ve eaten all the food inside.

Of course, for longer hikes, you will likely need to carry more food, water, and equipment with you. That means a bigger backpack, probably a rucksack. Choose wisely based on how far you plan to travel. You don’t want to run out of food or water halfway through a hike, likewise lugging extra food and water unnecessarily is not smart.

Water Bottle

Collapsible water bottle with hiker traversing rocks in background

It’s probably obvious that you will need to take a water bottle with you. Water, after all, is more important than food. It is amazing how difficult it can be to choose an appropriate bottle, though. They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colours. And all that choice would be a good thing if it wasn’t for the fact that you have to make compromises on space.

Yep, carrying a 2-litre bottle of water seems like a good idea until you realise that large bottle means leaving out some precious food. One way around this issue is to take reusable water packs. These plastic packs take up little room and can be refilled at watering spots on the route.

Another option to consider is a water filtration straw. These devices can alleviate the need to carry heavy water bottles. You can simply fill your water container from a source - river, lake, or well - use the filtration straw to ensure the water is clean and drinkable. Some filtration straws, like the Miniwell Water filter currently available in our shop, even have a water bag included so you don’t have to worry about carrying an extra container.

Multi-tool

card-sized multi-tool next to cut tree branch

A multi-tool can solve a multitude of problems while on a hike. Most tools have the basics covered, such as can opener, bottle opener, knife. Others go a step further and include wrenches, screwdrivers, and even hooks. Expect the unexpected on your hike and make sure you always have a good multi-tool to hand.

You never know when something might need fixing, cutting, or opening. A multi-tool is not only an essential tool to take hiking, it is a must-have for life in general.

Map and Compass

digital carabiner with compass

Most of us have a mobile phone to hand and know just how awesome Google Maps and Waze are. The trouble is when you’re halfway up a mountain or deep in a forest relying on your phones GPS is a recipe for disaster.

Sure, keep your phone to hand, but you must always have a paper map and compass in your back pocket - you don’t have to literally keep those items in your back pocket, but having these items with you means having a handy backup if you’re out of reach of technology - and the best hikes usually are.

Food

person pouring baked beans from thermos into a bowl

We’re sure you don’t need reminding to take food on your hiking trip but it is worth noting that not all types of foods are suitable. For example, food products that require refrigeration - such as milk or cheese - are a bad idea. Food like that will quickly become a rancid mess in the warm environment inside your backpack.

Instead, pack dense super-foods. Things like nuts and protein bars are winners because they are packed with energy fuelling calories and don’t take up much room. Tinned foods are also a good call, but not too many though because those little tins are heavier than they look. Also, packs of dried fruit make for great snacks and give a natural energy boost to fuel you further along your hike.

Emergency Bivvy

image showing various uses of emergency bivvy

It’s unthinkable but important to think about. We’re talking about a survival situation. Even if you’re only going on a “simple” hike you should always be prepared for emergencies. And, while an emergency bivvy won’t cover all bases it is pretty useful to have.

If you were ever to find yourself lost in a forest or up the side of a mountain a bivvy could stave off hypothermia long enough for the rescue team to find you… Sorry to get all dramatic, but we want you to be safe out there.

And that’s our list. It’s far from an exhaustive list, but we promised you hiking essentials and with the above mentioned you will be well on your way to fun and successful hike.

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