Top 10 Essential Hiking Accessories
By Editorial Staff
Contributed by Info Guru Robert P. Simon
Striking off into the backwoods for a hike can be a great way to enjoy nature and pick up some much-needed exercise.
However, all but the simplest hikes pose some danger, so make sure to include a few essentials for health and safety before you depart. Here’s a list of ten essential accessories for hiking.
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10. Suntan lotion
Regardless of your complexion, a day under the sun can lead to very uncomfortable consequences without proper UV protection. This is particularly true at higher elevation, where the sun’s rays are even more powerful.
9. First-aid kit
Hiking hazards such as insect stings, cuts and scrapes, and twisted ankles can occur at any time. A good first-aid kit doesn’t need to be overly elaborate, but you should always carry some essential items to mitigate these risks. When preparing or purchasing your kit, make sure to include (at a minimum) gauze, band aids of various sizes, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and burn/sting ointments. Additionally, oral Benadryl should always be carried to minimize allergic reactions in case of bee or other insect stings.
A simple compass will prove essential when navigating backcountry, and can be a life saver in a worst-case scenario. When choosing a compass, be sure to find a model that shows a full 360 degree range in legible increments and features a base plate which can be used to measure map distances. Additional features such as a fold-out mirror or a clinometer may prove valuable for certain hikes, but be sure you know how to use your instrument before striking off!
A flashlight is essential for any hike through unknown territory, as you never know when you’ll be forced to navigate a dark passage or spend an evening outdoors. Look for water-resistant, lightweight, sturdy flashlight models, and always carry extra bulbs.
Try not to get lost. If you do get lost, or if somebody else does, you’ll have a safety whistle. Avoid metal whistles if you expect to hike in freezing conditions.
Never strike off on an unknown trail without an accurate map of the area. Before departing, be sure to orient yourself, reconcile as-drawn directions with your compass readings, and gauge critical distances.
Always carry plenty of fresh water when hiking. Lightweight plastic models are great for carrying in your pack, while steel canteens will prove more sturdy and allow for boiling. Also, be sure to treat all water sources before drinking, either with filtration, purification tablets, or by boiling.
3. Sturdy sunglasses
Hiking at elevation can be extremely hard on the eyes. Intense UV rays, cloudless skies, and glistening snow will cause optical damage well before you notice discomfort. Invest in a pair of serious sunglasses.
2. Pocket knife / multi-tool
A trusty multi-tool will be invaluable for first aid, food preparation, and basic campsite tasks. While multi-tools range in flexibility, one that features at least a locking blade, scissors, wood saw, tweezers, pliers, and a can opener is ideal.
1. Incendiary device
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Building fire can be essential to a hiking trip, especially one gone wrong. There are a number of reliable tools for starting a fire, including waterproof matches, magnesium flint blocks, and chemical fire sticks. In a pinch, a regular old butane lighter will also do the trick!
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