Some trails are tailor-made for spending the entire day. Here’s how to do it right.
How to Navigate a Remote Trail
At first, the thought of going on a day hike can seem intimidating; but you don’t require expensive outdoor gear to enjoy one! Simple items can make hiking much more enjoyable. This handy checklist will ensure that you are always prepared for whatever comes up during your next hike.
No matter the purpose of your hike, a waterproof pen and paper will come in handy to take notes or communicate in case of emergency with fellow hikers. Also, a fire-starting kit containing matches also proves invaluable for safety on any trek.
Take Adequate Sun Protection
An essential item for day hikers, sunscreen is an indispensable necessity that will protect the skin against harmful UV rays that could otherwise lead to sunburn.
Search for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and reapply often; especially if you sweat heavily. Select one with non-greasy formula so it feels comfortable on your skin.
Dress in Layers
Layers allow you to control your body temperature on the trail. Cotton is one of the worst materials to wear as it draws heat away from your body and could potentially lead to hypothermia; opt instead for synthetic long underwear tops and pants or merino wool products.
An outer layer to protect from wind and cold, such as a fleece jacket or lightweight rain jacket, should also be included in your packing. A hood and gloves may help keep the extremities warm in cooler weather. Bring long underwear with you in case temperatures suddenly decrease or if you are hiking in the evening; also bring a lightweight winter jacket as an emergency backup plan.
Bring a Good First-Aid Kit
First aid kits should be an integral component of every hiker’s day pack. Even minor wounds can quickly turn into serious issues if medical supplies are unavailable to treat them promptly. Pack a small set of bandages, hand sanitizer, and painkillers such as ibuprofen to deal with any injuries that arise while hiking.
Consider packing items such as blister Band Aids, roll gauze, and medical/athletic tape in case blisters arise while out hiking. Also, bring hand sanitizer and toilet paper – not all trails provide toilet facilities nearby!
There are numerous pre-packaged kits you can purchase that make for convenient and easily transportable backpack kits. Be sure to restock regularly, customizing their contents based on your hiking adventures.
Bring Illumination When It Gets Dark
As soon as the sun goes down, bringing illumination is crucial for an enjoyable hike. Headlamps make for an excellent solution as they free up both hands for navigation while still allowing you to clearly see ahead on your trail. Plus, many come equipped with adjustable settings so you can adapt easily to changing conditions in terms of darkness.
Keep in mind that it may take up to a ½ hour for your eyes to adjust to the dark, so take your time, even on trails you know well, and pay attention to trail markers so as not to stray off-trail unless absolutely necessary.
Bring the Right Food and Snacks
High-calorie snacks will keep your energy up while on the trail. Be sure to bring energy bars, jerky, or nuts so that your energy remains consistent throughout the day.
Preparing food that will provide enough energy for an entire hike is of utmost importance to ensure you have enough strength for every step of your adventure. A well-balanced hiking meal should consist of proteins, healthy fats, and good carbohydrates for a lasting energy supply.
Jerky is an ideal snack due to its lightweight nature and excellent caloric per ounce ratio, plus you can season it according to your taste preferences. There are a ton of different jerky flavors out there, and even varieties for vegetarians!
Pack a lightweight emergency blanket just in case you become separated from the group while hiking; this will help trap body heat and protect you from hypothermia.
Have Enough Hydration
Water, water, water! You should plan to bring along approximately half a liter per hour, depending on the weather. A water hydration system would be ideal. Consuming plenty of water is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to avoid dehydration and maintain energy levels.
Make a minimum goal of one liter per hour when hiking in moderate weather, adjusting accordingly depending on temperature, exertion level and personal needs. Oral rehydration salts may help your body absorb and retain fluids more effectively.
Whenever hiking on trails with natural water sources, make sure your day pack includes a hydration reservoir so you can easily fill up without carrying an uncomfortably full pack. Also avoid drinking caffeine- or carbonated-containing drinks, as this increases your risk of dehydration.