Those who’ve turned hiking and camping into a lifestyle and even those who’ve only given it a try probably know all of the incredible benefits and the immense joy these activities bring. If you’ve seen how happy it makes other people and you want to feel the same kind of exhilaration they do, you should definitely give camping and hiking a go. However, before you do, you should get familiar with some of the basic things you should pack in order to stay safe while spending your time in nature.
It’s not that difficult to get lost in a forest or on a mountain. One wrong turn and you’re off the track, not knowing how to get back where you came from. Of course, a GPS device will prove to be helpful in such cases, but it’s also good to have an old-school backup system in the form of a map and a compass. While electronic devices have been known to run out of battery at crucial moments, a traditional map and a compass will never let you down that way. However, if you’re not an experienced hiker, perhaps you should spend some time studying them before your trip so that you know how to use them if and when you need them.
Another thing you shouldn’t take two steps without is a lamp. Dark can come sooner than you expect, especially if you’re in thick woods, where late afternoon can seem like the middle of the night. Not being able to see can even cause panic sometimes, so having some sort of a lamp is a must. A headlamp is probably the most practical option so that your arms are free, but a good torch or a lantern will also do. Pack some extra batteries or a portable charger for your lamp, just in case.
Being prepared for anything is key to maintaining safety, so have a first-aid kit on you at any time. Check if everything in your kit is in its place and that nothing’s expired, and add anything else you feel you might need. For instance, a lot of walking often ends up with some serious blisters, so count on having to deal with those, but also throw in plenty of insect repellent and sunscreen, which you should apply repeatedly during the day.
You never know when you might need some sort of tool on your camping trip or hike. While it might come down to nothing more than slicing a piece of fruit, it’s also highly possible you’ll need to cut, fix or even make something, which you’ll need to be ready for. While a screwdriver or pliers might be a good idea, an even better one is quality OTF knives, as they’re lightweight, sharp, and durable, and can be used for building shelter, any emergency outdoor repairs, as well as in situations where you’re forced to defend yourself from something.
Whether you’re sitting by your tent or you’re in the wild, miles from your shelter, and you feel cold all of a sudden, you’ll probably want to build a fire, so you should always carry a lighter or a box of matches on you. If you opt for matches, make sure they’re in a waterproof casing, as they might easily be rendered useless otherwise if rain surprises you.
Weather is changeable and you should count on that. It might be warm when you start your hike or the forecast might predict dry weather, but that doesn’t mean you won’t end up cold and wet within hours. Extra clothing such as socks, shirts, gloves and hats can keep you from catching a serious cold, but wearing something waterproof on top of it all can save you from hypothermia or pneumonia better than anything else. Finally, comfortable, warm and water-resistant footwear is something you shouldn’t go on your trip without, so don’t hesitate to invest in a good pair of shoes.
Nutrition and Hydration
It’s easy to get hungry just sitting in front of your TV, but when you’re on the move, breathing that amazingly fresh air, you should anticipate hunger and thirst of greater proportions and sooner than usual. You’ll need fuel for such physical activity, so pack enough food and water to sustain you, but also plan for a little extra, just in case you stay outside for longer than you thought you would, or you have to share.
The worst thing that can happen to you in the wilderness is to be unprepared. This is why it’s crucial that you think of everything before you go and that you’re not taken aback by anything. In any case, it’s always better to be prepared for things that don’t happen, than not to be prepared for those that do.