Not Your Hiking Essentials List
Just to give you a heads up this is not a hiking essentials list. This list is about 5 little things you can bring with you on your next hiking adventure that will help you avoid small inconveniences and have more fun. Each of these items has helped me in some way. Some have helped with hydration or staying dry and others with something as simple as taking great photos.
1. Life Straw Water Bottle
I never thought I would say this, but life straw water bottles can be real lifesavers. They really do live up to their name and can be extremely helpful when you are in a hydration pinch. I was given one on my birthday a couple of years ago. I always brought it along just in case and never used it. Then one day I found myself out of water at the top of a summit hike. I had underestimated how much water I was going to need. I knew the climb down was going to take a few more hours. I knew I was going to get thirsty. Thankfully I was able to melt some snow and put it into my life straw water bottle. The bottle filtered out the dirt and all the things that could have made me sick. I was able to stay hydrated and complete my hike safely. Now I never go on a hike without it. If I ever going anywhere with snow I also bring a metal cup and a mini portable burner in case I need to melt some. Life straw water bottles allow you to drink water from sources that would normally make you sick which is extremely helpful when you run out.
2. Portable Charger
Bringing along a portable power bank or charger can be helpful in numerous ways. I take a lot of photos and videos while I'm hiking which tends to drain my cellphone battery pretty fast. Having a back-up charger ensures that I can keep shooting photos throughout my entire trip. In some cases having a backup charger can even help you in emergency situations. If you are hurt or lost and still have reception your phone can be a tool you can use to call for help. At the very least having a fully charged cell phone can give you some peace of mind.
3. Smart Wool Socks
I know socks seem pretty basic and smart wool can get a little expensive, but they are totally worth it. I always wear a pair of Smart wool socks and carry an extra pair with me just in case. No one likes wearing wet socks and you never know when you are going to step in a surprise puddle or get caught in a downpour. I was skeptical at first thinking that wool of any kind would make my feet feel too hot, but that has never been the case. They keep your feet warm even when wet. These socks are moisture-wicking and odor reducing so they keep your feet from getting sweaty and smelly, but that's not what I like most about these socks. They are just plain old comfortable which becomes a lot more important after 12 miles of walking.
4. Waterproof Container
Waterproof gear comes in many shapes, sizes and prices, but if you are hiking anywhere near water or somewhere that tends to rain a lot it is almost necessary if you want to keep your stuff dry. I live in Washington and it rains all year so I always carry a small plastic waterproof box in my pack. I use it to keep important stuff dry and in one place. Inside my waterproof case you will usually find:
- Car Keys
- Any open snacks
I want to keep all my electronics dry. I usually keep open food in a sealed container so I don't attract animals and to keep it from getting all over the place.
5. Magic Snack
We all know it is important to bring along emergency snacks in case we get stuck somewhere or hungry. But a magic snack is a step up from emergency food. It can be used in an emergency, but its real purpose is to boost both your energy and moral. Mine is beef jerky. It always helps whether I am tired, adjusting to higher altitudes or just feeling a little discouraged. Many experienced hikers I have talked to pack something like this. I have heard of everything from pickles to peanut M&Ms, but they all have some things in common. They each:
- Tend to boost your blood sugar
- Are at least moderately healthy
- Make you happy
- Last at least a day without refrigeration
They are not really magical they are more like comfort food, but specifically for hiking purposes which can feel pretty magical after a long day of hills and boulder fields.
Bringing the right stuff with you when you go hiking can greatly impact your experience. The essentials are important, but there are a few more things you can bring with you to make it just a little bit more fun. Life straw water bottles are great for hydration emergencies. Smart wool socks will keep your sore feet just a little happier. Bringing a power bank along will keep your phone charged for emergencies and photos. Waterproof containers keep your things dry. Magic snacks or just packing the right snacks can help boost your mood and energy. The little details can make a big difference especially when you are out making memories.