10 takeaways from the hike


  Whether you’re hiking three miles during the day or 30 miles at night, getting outdoors requires proper preparation. Conditions change. Injuries. We all need snacks. Over the years, hikers have honed the absolute must-have for any hike, with a list of 10 simple items. 10 essentials for hiking will keep you warm, nourished and safe no matter where you find yourself in the wilderness.

 There’s nothing worse than being stuck in the dark with only your phone’s flashlight to show you the way. Even if you’re heading out in the middle of the day, adverse conditions may send you out after sunset, and you’ll need a way to navigate. You don’t have to break the bank to get solid lighting that will keep you on track: a battery-powered LED headlamp will do just that. Great choice: Black Diamond Spot ($40, 1.8oz, no battery)

 Knowing how to use these 10 essentials is just as important as packing them. A simple first aid kit with bandages, antiseptic wipes, painkillers, and other items can help you treat a wide variety of wilderness ailments. Make sure you know what’s in your kit, how long it will last, and how to use it. When you twist your ankle with a wrong step or fall and bleed, remember to stay calm, assess the situation, and take action with the tools available. Good choice :AMK Ultralight/Watertight.9($36, 10.4 oz)

 Packing food for your hike isn’t just mountaintop candy bar bliss. Proper nutrition allows your body to move on the road and stay nourished in case of an emergency. For maximum efficiency, bring small packages of nutritional items. Carbohydrates and electrolytes are key to energy and endurance, and can be found in everything from dried fruit to trail mix to granola bars. Great pick :Clif Mojo dip($1.39, 1.6 oz)

 Making a fire with materials from the forest around you is an interesting challenge. But when push comes to shove, you don’t want to be stuck on a cold, dark night without a light. Pack a lighter and igniter: A Bic pen and a cotton ball dipped in vaseline will do the job. However, as with first aid, having supplies and knowing how to use them are two different things. In order to start a fire and maintain it, you need to find fuel and a pit and take the proper steps to make sure it doesn’t go out. Be sure to pay attention to fire safety: Start a fire in an established pit only if it is allowed by law, and have water on hand to douse the flames.

 Knives are used for a wide range of situations, from unwrapping pesky food items to making bows to hunt small animals. A small, sharp blade is sufficient for most purposes. Consider whether you want a foldable blade, a fixed blade, or a versatile blade, and be sure to maintain it between uses. Great choice :Victorinox Voyager Lite($119, 4oz)

   The rule of three states that you can go three days without drinking water. But in hot climates, that number can drop to a few hours. Carrying plenty of water in a sturdy container is crucial for any hike, and spare purification tablets can help if you run out. Good picks :Nalgene Everyday 32 oz ($10, 6.2 oz, nalgene-outdoor.com); Aquamira($17.2)

 Whatever the season, conditions on the road can change in an instant. At the beginning of the hike, be sure to pack extra layers of clothing. In cool weather, a slight puff is the best way to maintain your core temperature. Even lighter? A space blanket, a plastic sheet that keeps you out of the elements. Great pick :GoLite Demaree Canyon 800-fill Jacket ($200, 14oz)

 The number of high-tech GPS applications and devices on the market has exploded in recent years. But even if you have your phone with you, a map and compass – and the knowledge to use them – are still the most reliable way to navigate. After all, cell phones lose their signal, but the Earth’s magnetic field stays pretty consistent. Great choice :Silva Ranger 515 Compass($55, 2.4oz)

   From sunscreen to floppy hats to sun hoodies, keeping your skin protected from the sun isn’t just about preventing sunburn. Too much sun can wear you down quickly, turning your summer hike into a sweaty chore. For maximum protection, apply a generous amount of sunscreen and SPF lip balm an hour before you start your hike and reapply every few hours. Don’t forget your eyes, either: Sunglasses are essential for sunny snow hikes, lest you risk snow blindness.

   Having a simple emergency tarpaulin or tarp can be a real lifesaver when conditions around you start to disintegrate and you know you won’t be able to make it back to your starting point before dark. Climbing into a coffin-sized enclosure may not be the most comfortable, but it’s a lot safer than sitting under a tree in bad weather.