One of my favorite activities to do around Seattle is hiking in the spring and summer. The weather is perfect and you always get an amazing view from the top of the mountains. Even when I travel, I try to get a hike in to explore the area around me and get a workout in. Knowing what to pack when you go hiking will make it easier to wake up and go. Here’s the ultimate hiking packing list to ensure you have everything you need to hit the trails.
This is one of the most important items when you hike, so take some time to pick out the right one. You want to make sure it’s adjustable so it can fit you right. The last thing you want is your backpack riding up your back or having the straps rub against your body repeatedly. I love the Gemgo Mountaintop Backpack for multiple reasons. It’s waterproof, adjustable, and the straps have plenty of padding. It fits everything I need and more.
Many of us in the Pacific Northwest think we know the trails around here like the back of our hands. No way would we be seen using navigation. If you’re going on an unfamiliar trail or especially off the trail, be smart and bring a form of navigation. This can be a GPS unit or just an old-fashioned compass and a map. You never know when you’ll need it.
Protection From the Sun
I used to never think about wearing sunscreen when I was hiking. You’re mainly in the trees, right? The sun gets through a lot more than you think, plus chances that your entire hike is in the shade are small. Make sure to apply sunscreen to all parts of your skin that are showing and bring extra for when you sweat it off later. Don’t forget about your lips, either!
First Aid Kit
There’s nothing worse when you’re hours into a hike than getting hurt. While hopefully it’s just a small injury such as a scratch, having a first aid kit on hand will make all the difference. You don’t want to deal with trying to keep a cut clean when you still have several hours to go back. The kits are pretty small, so just throw one in your backpack before you leave home.
If you’re just hiking during the day, chances are you’ll be back before the sun goes down. It’s really easy to get caught up in a hike that has beautiful views and go longer than you intended to. If you start a hike mid-day, it also may take longer than you originally estimated. In those cases, it’s smart to have a flashlight in your backpack just in case. The last thing you want is to spend the night in the woods because you can’t see.
Bring plenty of snacks to fuel you for your hike. Try to make them nutritious so you’ll energy throughout the day. My favorites are trail mix and protein bars. If you have a CamelBak, make sure to fill it up all the way or bring plenty of water if you don’t.
If you’re going hiking for over an hour, you’re probably going to warm up pretty fast. You’re also changing elevation, so temperatures will differ throughout your hike. It’s best to wear layers that you can quickly take off as you go. I like to start with a quick-wicking shirt followed by a lightweight jacket. If it’s supposed to rain, I’ll bring a lightweight rain jacket on top as well. My favorite brand for outdoor activities is hands down ExOfficio due to how fast their clothes dry and how easy it is to clean them.
Having the right shoes is so important when you’re hiking. Don’t make the same mistakes I have in the past. First, find a pair of shoes that fit you well. I’d even recommend getting fitted at REI or another outdoor store to make sure they’ll be comfortable on the trail. Second, break them in before you go hiking. I’ve been too excited to wear my new shoes in the past and wore them straight from the box to the trail, only to get terrible blisters and pain in my feet. Wear them around the house or on errands first so they’ll feel better on the trail.
If you do get stuck in the woods at night and can’t find your way back until the morning, being able to make a fire will be a lifesaver. Always keep matches somewhere that won’t get wet so you can use them if you need them. Knowing how to make a fire beforehand will also help!
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