Hikers often hit the trails without essential equipment, reports Brown University researchers. They found that inexperienced hikers think it is unnecessary for shorter hikes. But entering into the wilderness unprepared can lead to serious accidents. Start your backpacking or hiking experience before you ever leave the house by putting together proper safety gear.
First Aid Kit
Before you lace up your hiking boots, pack a first aid kit that can cover your group in case of an emergency. Start with bandages, sterile dressings, gauze and medical tape to treat a wound. Tweezers come in handy to remove bad splinters and dangerous ticks. The Washington Trails Association also recommends antibiotics to keep infection at bay and Imodium to stop diarrhea from intestinal illnesses. If you don’t want to make your own, purchase a hiking kit from an outdoors store.
Keep your hands free and still stay connected with wearable technology. Smartphones can take up valuable supply space in your pack and easily break when dropped on a trail or in water. The Samsung Gear S is the company’s first 4-G connected wearable devicethat is compatible with most Galaxy smartphones. Just strap it on your wrist, and keep track of the weather, know how many steps you’ve taken and stay in touch with friends who are meeting you on the trail.
You may not get very far without a reliable hiking GPS to help mark trails, find your way out if you get lost and see what’s coming up on your hike. Plotting your trail also can help the next time you want to post your hiking path online for fellow hikers. The Garmin eTrex 20 GPS comes with a built-in worldwide basemap and color display that you can view in bright sunlight. Despite having a GPS in hand, nothing replaces an old-fashioned compass to get your bearings and serve as a backup if your GPS stops working.
Getting caught without a clean water supply can be disastrous. Pack an easy-to-use water filter that can strip away everything from bacteria to viruses. You also need to choose something that works fast so you’re not stuck sitting by the river and wasting precious daylight. Try the Steripen to filter your water, and pack spare batteries to treat your water with UV rays to destroy protozoa and bacteria.
Darkness can descend faster than you expect, especially when hiking in the mountains. Pack a headlamp or flashlight to light your way down a clear path. Remember to bring extra batteries, and double check your light source before stepping foot on the trail. Fumbling around in the dark can lead to a serious injury or delay the end of your hike by hours.
A long hike may require a quick shelter if you don’t make it back before nightfall. Pack some inexpensive weather-resistant heat sheets to stay warm regardless of the elements. A bivy sack is essential for staying warm and dry outdoors. The Outdoor Research Advanced Bivy is lightweight and comes with a two-pole design so you can set up a small adjustable awning.