Gear You'll Love When Hitting the Hiking Trails

Image Credit: Images By Tang Ming Tung/DigitalVision/GettyImages

There's nothing like the great outdoors, particularly at the lingering end of a pandemic when indoor gatherings might still be an iffy proposition. Luckily, state and national parks abound all over America, waiting for hikers to hit their trails. You might be a hiking pro, or you might be contemplating your first nature trek. In any case, there are some must-haves you should take with you, and a few other things that are just fun to bring along.

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Gear You Really Need

The Mountaineers, an organization dedicated to hiking and climbing, first put together a list of 10 hiking essentials back in the 1930s. That list has morphed a bit with the age of technology, and other groups have come up with lists and add-ons as well. But most agree that you won't want to head out without this gear:

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  • Backpack that can hold 25 to 45 pounds
  • Hiking boots and clothing that's appropriate for anticipated weather
  • Map, compass, or other navigation tool (or all three)
  • First-aid kit
  • Pocket knife and repair tools
  • Firestarter, even if it's just a lighter or matches
  • Whistle
  • Headlamp and/or flashlight
  • Lightweight stove and fuel
  • Shelter from the elements
  • Sleeping bag, if you're staying overnight

Narrowing down this list depends on whether you plan a day hike or a remote trek into the wilderness. The National Park Foundation recommends taking "everything you need and nothing you don't."

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Check the weather, particularly if you intend to remain out overnight. And don't neglect to leave word with a friend as to exactly where you're headed. You might want to leave a note in your car, too, before you take off.

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There's gear, and then there's gear. You can just get by, or you can have a blast and be prepared for any sort of emergency.

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All This for a Walk?

You might not think you need many of these items, but forewarned is forearmed. It might not be your intention to remain out overnight, but what if something prevents you from getting back? The forecast might call for sunshine for the next six days, but what if an unexpected storm barrels in?

The idea is to be prepared for any circumstance, even if you're just day hiking and your backpack feels heavy enough to last for a week. You might not intend to stay overnight, so you might not need a sleeping bag, but a tarp to pull over your head or a bivy sack will be much appreciated if the sky unexpectedly opens up.

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And don't forget the logical items that go without saying: sunscreen, plenty of food that doesn't necessarily require cooking, and water to help with hydration. A water filter could also come in handy if you need to drink from a stream or lake. Whistles can guide emergency personnel to your location or help you locate your fellow hikers if you get separated. The headlamp keeps your hands free for those trekking poles if you unexpectedly find yourself hiking after dark.

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A Hiking Gear Wish List

There's gear, and then there's gear. You can just get by, or you can have a blast and be prepared for any sort of emergency.

Garmin offers the eTrex32X GPS at a reasonable price for these devices, just $300. It has 8GB of internal memory, readable display in sunlight, 25 hours of battery life, satellite support and TopoActive mapping features.

L.L.Bean comes to the rescue if the hassle of building a fire really doesn't appeal to you. The Solo Stove Bonfire Fire Pit is double-wall stainless steel. It accommodates up to six firewood logs and contains the smoke while pumping out heat. All this contained in just 20 pounds.

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And let's face it, you're not going to get far without a great pair of hiking boots. Timberland has both men and women covered with a nice choice: Mt. Maddsen Mid Waterproof hiking boots are available for guys and gals. Both are available for under $100, a nice price for this type of footwear.

So what are you waiting for? Gear up and get out there.

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