Hiking is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend free time. A little bit of exercise coupled with the great outdoors is a winning recipe. With so many options for hiking equipment, it can be difficult to know where to begin. To help simplify the process and get you out on the trail sooner, here are 10 essential pieces of hiking gear the all hikers need.

1. Backpack

Perhaps one of the most iconic and essential pieces of hiking gear is the backpack. It’s preferable to have both hands completely free while wandering in nature for both mobility and safety reasons. However, hikers still need to carry food, water and other essentials. A backpack is the perfect solution to this dilemma. They provide an easy way to carry gear without reducing mobility or functionality.

2. Compass

As any seasoned hiker knows, getting lost is always a possibility. Having a compass is a great way to help maintain direction or help with repositioning after losing track. In the 21st century, a compass doesn’t have to mean a circular encasing with a metal hand balancing between N, S, E and W. Most cell phones and even some watches have compasses built into them. However, it’s recommendable to have a compass that doesn’t rely on battery power just in case it runs out.

3. Flashlight

Having a flashlight while hiking is crucial for when visibility is limited. Although hiking at night isn’t recommended, there are still some people who venture out after the sun sets. A flashlight is a great source of light that is compact and easy to carry. These can help light the way when it’s not easy to see, effectively making it safer to walk.

4. Whistle

The wilderness and unknown is often an exciting part of hiking. However, it can be scary and at times even dangerous. While the chances of getting lost aren’t incredibly high, it is smart to have a plan just in case. Carrying a whistle is a great idea as it is lightweight and very loud. Whistles are a well-known sign of distress in the hiking world. They can easily fit around the neck or placed in a backpack.

5. Water Bottle/Backpack

Hydration is by far the most important factor when it comes to hiking. No matter the distance or temperature, the human body needs to stay adequately hydrated. This is even more crucial during times of strenuous activity such as hiking. Fortunately, there are specially designed water bottles that are easier to carry. Some of these strap to backpacks while others have easy to grab handles. Hydration packs are also a great option.

6. Hiking Shoes

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but shouldn’t be dismissed. Hiking shoes are specifically designed to handle the terrain and constant impact that his type of activity requires. They are more durable than normal shoes and can help reduce the chances for minor injury or pain that could come from using shoes not designed for hiking. There are many great shoes and other items you can find online, and you can save money if you use a Columbia coupon code.

7. Utility Knife

The classic utility knife has always been closely associated with hiking and outdoors. Although it may seem like the most obvious piece of gear to take hiking, the number of possible uses are endless. After all, utility knives come with a dozen or so individual tools and gadgets. Some of the most common include standard knife, scissors, pinchers, nail filer, LED light, can-opener and more. A utility knife can come in handy for a variety of reasons while on a hike.

8. First-aid Kit

Hiking always poses the possibility of causing an accident. For this reason, it is essential to carry a first-aid kit when wandering in the outdoors. To be sure, even the shortest and easiest hikes can result in a minor accident. Having the appropriate () to treat the injury is an important part of any hike. These first-aid kits can be a homemade compilation of items such as gauze, bandaids, athletic wrap, etc. or can be purchased at a store.

9. Sun Protection

The sun is a powerful factor that is easy to forget about before a hike. However, the sun is quick to remind of its presence. Having the proper gear to help protect against the sun is essential. This can come in the form of strong sunscreen or a wide-brim hat. Sunscreen is advised with or without a hat, although any extra cover over the skin is helpful.

10. Hiking Poles

Another essential piece of hiking gear is hiking poles. These poles help to increase stabilization while also taking some stress off of the legs. With a bumpy path full of rocks and tree roots, tripping is a common occurrence. Poles work to reduce these falls by offering two extra points of contact with the ground other than the feet. They also allow hikers to use arm strength to alleviate some stress from the feet.

Hiking is a great opportunity to leave all worries behind and venture into the natural beauty of this world. Having the essential pieces of equipment handy can make the trip that much more enjoyable, safe and efficient.

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