Your Hiking Safety Checklist – Essential Items for Your First Hiking Trip

Essential Items For Your Hiking Safety Checklist

Hiking is fun and relaxing, but it can also be incredibly dangerous and risky if you don’t take the necessary precautions.

With their slippery rocks, steep gorges and strange weather, mountains can quickly become a deadly place.

Before heading out, remember that you and your friends are responsible for your own safety!

Therefore, let’s take a closer look at the following hiking essentials that will help you be safe, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned professional.

Hikers climbing on mountain

Physical shape/Fitness level

Hiking can be very exhausting and demanding for your body. You will have to hit the gym and train in advance, especially if you plan to attempt a longer hike.

Navigating the rough terrain can be tricky, therefore focus on working out your legs and core for more stability.

Incorporate a weight training routine to improve your performance and strengthen the muscles and the joints that are heavily used (and often strained) during hiking.

During your hike don’t forget to schedule rest time to allow your muscles to recover.

For starters, take 5 minutes breaks every 30 minutes and adjust from there according to your fitness level. It might also help to sit down and elevate your legs in order to remove the lactic acid from your muscles.

Hiking in Sunset

Navigation

The best way to stay on the right track is to take a map, hiking compass and GPS with you.

Basic maps generally display the major points of interest and the trail system which connects them without going into much detail about the shape of the landscape.

They are ideal for short, one-day hikes on an established trail.

On the other hand, if you plan a longer hike, a topographic map details the terrain and the elevation levels using different shades of color and it allows you to identify the major peaks and orient in the field using a compass.

If you are curious, you can learn more about reading maps here.

Smartphones can act as a GPS, but they usually have poor battery life and access to maps. Buy a dedicated handheld GPS unit, as they are more sturdy and double as a compass.

compass on hand

Clothing

When shopping for hiking clothes, non-cotton fabrics like knit polyester, merino wool, or microfibre are your best friends because they dry quickly and allow your skin to breathe.

The weather on the mountain can change dramatically from one hour to another so don’t forget to pack multiple layers of clothing for a perfect insulation.

  • Base Layer – a synthetic short or long-sleeved T-shirt.
  • Insulation Layer – a fleece jacket or a wool sweater for chilly days/nights.
  • Protective Layer – wind/rain resistant jacket and rain pants for hiking.
  • Hat/Gloves/Socks/Underwear – made from a material that allows your skin to breathe and dries quickly.
  • Hiking boots – from trail running sneakers (for short hikes) to heavy-duty hiking boots that provide more ankle support and cushioning for climbing. Don’t forget to wear your new boots before hiking to avoid blisters.
  • Hiking backpack – waterproof, of a suitable size and quality.
  • An additional set of dry sleeping clothes if you will camp overnight.

tie hiking boots

Nutrition

The rule of thumb is to always pack enough lightweight, nutrient-dense, high-carb foods to last you for at least 2 days even if you are 100% sure you won’t get lost.

You want to pack small portions of non-perishable food that is low in fat and provides a high level of energy.

Ideally, you should include a trail mix, energy/granola bars, nuts, seeds, dried fruits and meat jerky. You can also pack sandwiches or canned food.

Always start the morning with a healthy, filling breakfast and drink plenty of water with your meal before you leave the campsite.

Hydration

The most important thing to remember is to keep your body hydrated at all times. Check up the climate (how hot it is, the altitude) and how hard you think you will be working out to assess your individual needs.

Begin your day at sunrise and, if you can, avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day. If you are not familiar with the terrain, carry as much water supplies as possible.

Refill at water sources whenever possible to avoid carrying the extra weight and wasting more energy.

Don’t forget to bring along some water filters or water purification tablets to prevent getting sick from contaminated water.

first aid

First Aid Supplies

Generally, a basic First Aid Kit should include at least moleskin for blisters, bandages, scissors and aspirin.

For short routes you can make do with a pre-packed First Aid Kit from a pharmacy or a camping
supply shop, but if you plan on hiking for long distances you should take a First Aid course and build your own personalized kit depending on your own medical conditions.

Other essential additional items and tools

Electronics

These will include your cell phone and a travel camera for videos or pictures. Don’t forget to buy additional memory cards for your camera and a portable battery charger for all your electronic equipment.

To always have each of the electronics or gadgets ready you might want to consider looking at the best electronic organizers. These work great to keep cables from tangling up and will make it easier to find exactly what you need.

Illumination

A flashlight/headlamp and supplementary batteries might come in handy if you are caught hiking during night time or you are camping or staying in a guest house without electricity at night.

Emergency shelter

Includes a camping tent or a sleeping bag if you need to take temporary shelter and move away from wind and rain.

Sun protection

Use plenty of sunscreen lotion, lip balm and sunglasses with 100% UV protection especially on those trails where you don’t get enough cover from trees or during winter when the snow reflects the light from the sun.

Miscellaneous

Other important items that shouldn’t miss from your backpack include a backpacking knife, duct tape, backpacking stove, hiking poles (for additional support), small toilet supplies, bug spray and fire-making supplies like waterproof matches and a lighter.

Always be aware of your surroundings and be vigilant. Check the weather forecast and don’t forget to let your family and friends know your hiking itinerary.

If possible, travel with a friend and avoid being alone in case you need help.

And lastly, don’t forget to stop from time to time and enjoy the nature’s most beautiful spots!