Recently, my friend realized that where I’m from (Arizona), temperatures regularly hit above 110 degrees. She was shocked, especially since she knows I enjoy hiking. She was appalled that I’d hike in that kind of weather. And, well, the truth is – I don’t hike in that weather. It’s unsafe. But winters in Arizona are perfect for hiking. Now that I live in Utah, though, hiking can be a year-round thing – when done right and with the right equipment. So here are 10 hiking essentials for wherever you live, including the best hiking compression socks.
#10 Wear the Best Hiking Compression Socks
When you’re hiking, your legs are taking quite a beating. Especially if you chose a hike with a good sized incline! Wearing some good hiking compression socks will help you hike happier while keeping the recovery to a minimum.
Now, where do you find the best hiking compression socks? You’re going to want hiking compression socks that breathe, don’t cause blisters, and give you the support you need. And that can mean trying out several different kinds of compression socks – but to save you some time, here’s my top 10 list of favorite compression socks for nurses. However, I’ve worn many of those while hiking, and they work great.
However, if you don’t want to read yet another article, here’s the takeaway: my favorite compression socks for hiking are my pink and gray striped compression socks. The blue and gray ones are a close second, though!
Now, let’s make sure we’ve got the other hiking essentials covered.
#9 Take a Flashlight
It’s darn hard to hike when you can’t see! I remember one failed night hike in particular. It was during my college days. A group of friends wanted to go see the sunrise from a particular ridge, and I tagged along after a long shift at a restaurant where I was working at the time. Being sore wasn’t the problem, though. It was that my flashlight gave out part way into the hike. I, and another gal who took pity on me, were forced to turn back. It was while I was stumbling around in the dark that I tripped and injured myself.
It was then and there that I swore to always take a backup flashlight!
#8 Always Pack a First Aid Kit
Coming in at #8, always pack a first aid kit. And I’m not saying that just because I’m a nurse! Bumps, bruises, bug bites, and blisters are common when hiking. I’ve also seen a few run-ins with poison ivy, dehydration, and fatigue. A well-packed first aid kit is often the difference between a miserable hike – and one that teaches others to love hiking, too.
#7 Taking Kids Hiking? Take a Carrier, too!
If you’re taking little kids hiking, then you need to take a carrier. Or a stroller. But since most hikes aren’t generally designed with a stroller in mind, a carrier is a very handy thing to have! We’ve got two carriers – this Kelty Pathfinder 3.0 backpack carrier (though we bought it for about $175 at Costco) and an Ergo 360 Mesh Carrier.
The great thing about the Kelty is that it’s a framed backpack, distributing the kid’s weight evenly, making hiking with a kid a breeze. It also has enough space for the rest of our gear, which is a nice perk. We tote the youngest child in that – then if the toddler gets tired, we get the Ergo out of storage from the Kelty and can tote him around safely, too.
#6 Pack a Fire Starter Kit, Just in Case
Getting lost sucks, and nobody really plans on getting lost. But if you did get lost, being able to start a fire would be handy, wouldn’t it? We’ve got some waterproof matches in the backpack, just in case. Because if we’re prepared, we won’t need them, right?
#5 Don’t Get Lost: Plan Your Route, Take a Map, and Use Your GPS or Compass
When it comes to hiking, it’s important to plan your route. Because as that Cheshire cat says, if you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t much matter which path you take. Unless you’re hiking and you want to get back to your car, of course. Then you probably ought to keep track of where you’re going.
Take a map. Know how to use it. Because while using your GPS is awesome, sometimes it can lead you astray – even stranding you in the middle of nowhere. So be smart, okay? Have backup maps. Take a compass. And if you have to mark where you’re going, do so responsibly.
And if you’re local, here’s 5 awesome hiking trails in Utah courtesy of Jen and The Search for Imperfection.
#4 Kids or Not, Take Food
Always. Take. Food.
And if you’ve got kids, be smart. Take extra food – and make sure it’s stuff that they’ll actually eat. When one of my kids went through a “I’m only gonna eat crackers!!” phase, we brought lots of crackers. And then we had to bring extra juice – and planned for extra potty breaks. It’s a vicious, vicious hiking cycle. Good thing it’s worth it, right?
#3 Bring a Poncho, an Extra Layer of Clothes, and lots of Sunscreen
We usually bring a light jacket when we go hiking, because kids get cold – and so do I. But be aware of where you’re hiking and what the weather can do there. Then, be prepared for the unexpected as best as you can.
Then, remember to wear sunscreen. And if you’re going for a long hike, bring the bottle of it so you can reapply it later. Sunburns are no fun, y’all. So wear a hat!
Melissa Ringstaff, in her article 7 Safety Essentials for Hiking, recommends bringing a coat and an extra pair of socks. 2 pairs of compression socks, perhaps?
#2 Bring a Friend and Share Your Plans with Someone
Growing up in Arizona, there were so many stories on the news about people who’d gone hiking alone – and then didn’t make it home alive. More often than not, they succumbed to heat exhaustion or heat stroke related to dehydration because they didn’t account for the heat. However, there were also plenty of stories where investigations determined that the story could have had a happier ending if only the person had let someone know they were going hiking first.
Please hike safely, y’all. This one strikes home, having lost a cousin to the mountains of Arizona.
#1 Always Bring More Water Than You Think You’ll Need
Finally, the #1 most important part of hiking (I know – it’s even more important than wearing hiking compression socks!) is taking enough water. In fact, bring more water than you need. If you’ve got too much at the end of a hike, it won’t hurt you. But if you run out of water on a hike… well, that can hurt you.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke sneak up on you like no other. I’ve experienced heat exhaustion – and it’s not fun. And they can sneak up on you, even on a short walk. My sister lost a friend who went for a short, several-mile hike in the Grand Canyon. So bring plenty of water – even on a short hike.
Hiking is a fun, amazing activity. Be prepared, be safe, and have lots of fun! What other hiking essentials do you take with you?