- Check the weather.
- Select a trail and distance that matches your ability.
- Dress in a couple layers. Even if it’s hot have extra layers available, in the event you get lost and delayed in returning the temps may drop as it nears nightfall.
- Pay attention to landmarks on the trail.
- Apply Sunscreen 30 minutes before you get on the trails, every 80 minutes thereafter. Lip balm with SPF is a must as well.
- Water and Electrolytes. Hydrating days prior to a big hike can help to minimize dehydration. You should always carry 2-3 liters and extra in the heat. Hydrate after the hike with electrolytes too.
- Wear a hat to help keep your head cool and protect you from direct sunlight.
- Hike early morning or evening – or go for a night hike on the next full moon!
- Recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. WebMD.
- Don’t cross water if it’s above your knees. If you do, find a natural bridge or cross facing upstream while shuffling your feet.
- Tips for hiking in bear country.
- Hike at a fitness level that’s at a level for your least fit or experienced person if hiking in a group.
- Learn how to read a map (if you don’t already know how).
- Use a compass.
- Stay on the trails.
- wear appropriate clothing. Shoes should fit comfortably and be broken in already.
- In the backpack (depending on experience, length and difficulty of hike); bug spray, water, nutrient dense snacks, sunscreen, lip balm, extra socks, wet socks suck and holes can cause blistering, hat (unless you are wearing one), first aid supplies, map, compass, fully-charged cell phone and GPS, poncho, plastic storage zipper bags, dry bags, tarp, whistle, knife or multi-purpose tool, flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries in them. All that being said, don’t take a bunch of extra stuff. That will only weigh you down, slow you down and fatigue you. Take essential hiking provisions.
- Add to your kit a small fire starter kit in case of stranding (being lost) overnight or cold weather emergencies only. Make sure you know how to start a fire without starting a forest/wooded trail fire. Forest fires can spread extremely fast. And even more so in some areas where weather conditions cause high risk factors for fire. Please please please know what your doing with your fire kit, in advance of your hike!
- Learn about poisonous plants indigenous to your area.
- Learn about the wildlife indigenous to your area.
- Know your locations hunting seasons🥺 You don’t want to get mistaken for a target 😧
- Make stops along the way. Set your pack down, drink some water and give your muscles a rest.
- Make sure someone at home knows the trail route you’re taking.
- If it’s raining, remember to use caution, even leaves can be slick.
- Know your poison ivy!
The 10 Hiking Backpack Essentials
Repair Kit and Tools
Resources: If you aren’t familiar with the details of each of the ten categories of the 10 Essentials, we recommend reading our Guide to the 10 Essentials.
Don’t let the rain stop you from hiking!
Here are some tips to make sure you stay safe…
- Choose the Right Trail – Pick a shorter hike that will take a few hours rather than all-day. Make sure you read up on the trail beforehand to see if there are creeks or slippery sections that are prone to flooding.
- Wear the Right Clothing – Make sure your jacket is waterproof. You want to stay dry from the rain but also have a material that wicks away sweat.
- Bring the Right Gear – Invest in a rain cover for your backpack. You can also use dry bags or ziploc bags to keep your gear dry inside your pack.
- Bring the Right Snacks – You most likely won’t stop for a picnic so pick grab-and-go snacks like nuts and granola bars. Consider a thermos if it’s cold.
- Have the Right Attitude – Learn to love the rain – the trails will probably be less crowded and if you’re adequately prepared, you’ll soon love it!