A great hike starts with the right gear. The most gorgeous landscape will not make up for a cold body, wet feet or an empty stomach. But with a little extra planning and a few pieces of reliable gear, nearly any hike can be made much more enjoyable.
The first step is to familiarize yourself with basic hiking gear and skills. Start small with short day hikes to get used to carrying some gear and break in your hiking boots. Work your way up to all day hikes. Take a class or join a social hiking club. Only when you feel confident in your own abilities should you consider longer hikes.
A hiking trip will need different gear at different times of the year. Gear needs will also be different in different climates. The basic core doesn 't change too much. For a two to four day trip you can figure on needing roughly 35 pounds of gear. This includes water, food and sleeping gear. Smart packing and good planning will help keep the weight down.
The Back Pack
This most important piece of kit must be comfortable for your body shape and size. Be sure to try on bags until you find one that fits. There are two styles. One has an internal frame and the other has an external frame. The bag will need to rest the majority of its weight on your hips.
A four day hike needs a bag between 2,400 and 4,200 cubic inches. Longer hikes need a larger bag to hold more consumables. A bag that is too big can lead to over packing.
The Tent and Bag
Most hikers will be best served by a three season tent and bag. These items are rated for weather down to below freezing but not for a hard winter chill. An under tent tarp and sleeping pad can be used to increase comfort on the trail if desired.
GPS and Maps
Even a day hiker should pack a m...
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...air kit and a small roll of duct tape generally round out last-minute repair items.
Many hikers enjoy a little music or reading to unwind at night. The key is to take devices that are hardy, small and hold a good charge. Don 't rely on a cell phone as they tend to burn through a charge too fast. A must bring is a trail worthy camera. Just a good point and shoot camera can take gorgeous photos for you to share once home. Look for models that offer waterproof bodies. Shock proofing in case of being dropped is also helpful.
Modern hikers may want to charge those small items on the trail too. There are a number of small solar units and batteries available that can recharge most items on the trail. Energy hungry devices like cell phones might not be able to take a full charge from smaller panels or batteries. Carefully check any batteries or charges before leaving.
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