Hiking Basics for the Clueless

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Me hiking at Mt. Diablo

 

First, I just want to say that I am not a hiking expert. I have been hiking for a few years now though, and have been doing more the past year.  This makes me feel that I am no longer as clueless as I used to be. For the ladies out there who would want to explore and try hiking, here’s a list of hiking essentials (what to bring when hiking) to make sure you would have a fun, stress-free nature trip.

 

Comfortable Footwear

Hiking shoesHiking is all about walking on every imaginable surface possible so you would want to make sure you’re wearing your most comfortable pair of sandals, rubber shoes, or boots — and not stilettos. You’re not doing a catwalk, girl!

Unless you’re going to be having a photoshoot somewhere in the middle of the trail, you wouldn’t need your fancy high-heeled shoes or your cute strappy thong sandals. I remember hiking up Mount Hood wearing my silver strappy sandals (It was a spur-of-the-moment trip and I was unprepared!) and it was both scary and a pain!

I personally would recommend Chaco’s unaweep sandal because it’s what I have been using for quick trips and it’s been nothing but great, but I am also in love with my La Sportiva hiking boots (see image on the right) which I use on longer hikes and backpacking trips.

Water Bottle

With water, of course! The key to hiking is to remain hydrated so don’t ever forget your own water bottle. If you’re going to hike somewhere cold, you might also want to bring an extra bottle and fill it with hot tea or coffee, whatever you prefer. Oh, please make sure you’ll use a reusable water bottle. A nature lover has got to use/reuse environment-friendly products, right?

Don't forget to bring some energy bars to munch on while hiking.A lot of hikers also use hydration packs which are super convenient because you could just continue walking while drinking. You don’t have to stop and get your bottle from your bag, open it and drink, then close it again (that’s just too much work, tee-hee!).

Energy Bars/Trail Mix

One of the best things about hiking is you get to munch on delicious nuts and chocolate granola bars while at it. Of course, energy bars and trail mix (as I have eaten them so far) are supplements and are not meant to replace your meals.

If you know you’re going to be hitting lunch time while on foot, better prepare a decent meal (sandwiches, fruits, salad) for you to eat. You would not want to faint from hunger in the middle of nowhere. On a personal note, we love those trail mix you can buy in bulk at Whole Foods. We make sure to get them whenever we would go hiking. You would need the sugar and salt combo when hiking.

Sunscreen

Don't forget to use sunscreen when hiking. Currently, what we have are these sport sunscreens from Walgreens and Banana Boat. Again, since you would be walking a lot, wear sunscreen! Generously slather sunscreen all over your sexy body to make sure your skin is well-protected. Currently, what we have are these sport sunscreens from Walgreens and Banana Boat. You might also want to bring a mosquito repellent. Hiking is fun, but you don’t want to catch any diseases while at it.

First Aid Kit

This is a no-brainer, a must for emergencies. You could assemble your own like we have, or buy ready kits. You might also want to add a flash light and a whistle.

Trucker’s Hat

To be honest, I rarely wear a trucker’s hat when we go hiking. I like feeling the breeze on my scalp but there are times when wearing one does help, especially when dealing with sun glare. My eyes are sensitive too so I get teary when the sun’s up and trucker’s hats help. It can also protect you from bird poop, or anything that might fall on you while hiking. Watch out!

Miscellaneous: A sweater or a rain jacket (depending on the weather), camera to capture those beautiful landscapes, your phone for GPS or a map, and binoculars.

 

How about Backpacking?

 

backpacking couple

 

So you’re feeling more adventurous and you want to backpack. Now based on my experience as a slightly newbie backpacker, here are the backpacking essentials:

 

greenphilsbackpackers

Tent

Your home away from home. Your tent needs to be very reliable. It will protect you from rain, the heat of the sun, and the cold of the night. This is where you will be resting, cocooned in your sleeping bag, after a day spent hiking or thrill-seeking.

Water Filter/Bottle

We can not reiterate the fact that hydration is key, so don’t ever, ever forget your water. There are places where your only source for water are creeks or lakes. You would want to use your filter. Unless you’re at the top of the mountain, where there’s virgin water sources, it would help to filter and purify your water.

Bring a backpack.Backpack/Clothes

Even if you’re not possibly going to be showering for days, bring clothes. If you’re going to hike somewhere cold, bring layers to keep you warm. If you’re not prepared to go skinny-dipping, bring your swimwear. And of course, all of these, you place in your backpack. What’s backpacking without a backpack, right?

Food

This is another no-brainer. Like me, you don’t want to go hungry. We normally bring pasta, rice, couscous, canned tuna, veggies, fruits, oats, crackers, granola bars, tea, chocolates, and more. Larry is sweet, he carries them all. But, the idea really is to bring lightweight, dehydrated food dense with carbs, electrolytes, and vitamins. Make sure that if you have food that needs cooking, you have a stove to use. Otherwise, you would just be hallucinating and dreaming of cooked pasta non-stop.

Hiking Shoes/Sandals

Backpacking involves even more walking, and on every imaginable surface possible. Make sure you’re wearing your most comfortable pair of hiking sandals or boots.

Good Book

There’s something about being at a place so peaceful and quiet that makes reading more of an immersive experience.

 

What else should you expect?

Having to carry your heavy bag for long periods of time: With no one to help you since everyone has backpacks to carry too. At certain times, you would feel pain on your shoulders as your bag weighs you down. This is especially true if you don’t have those hips to support the bag.

Blisters, bruises, and bites: All these you get from brushing through thick forests, and occasionally tripping and slipping. Be on the lookout for poison oaks and ivies, and mosquitoes.

Digging your own “toilet”: Especially if you’re going to be backpacking at a wilderness site where there are no restrooms. I panicked the first time I had to do this. Thankfully, I have a pro to teach and show me.

Not showering for days: As you could be somewhere up in the mountains where there are no streams (or there would be waters but could be ice-cold).

Possibly not wanting to go back home… and just wanting stay in the wilderness, be wrapped by nature for the rest of your life.

 

There you have it — our list of recommended hiking basics for the extremely clueless girl. Hopefully, this guide will make you less clueless when it’s time for you to explore the wilderness. If you have other tips that you think will be useful to others, don’t hesitate to share on the comments box below.

Now, you’re ready! As you go hiking, remember this — “Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time.”

 

Do you have any hiking tips? Share your comments below!

 

Iva Maurin

Iva Maurin

Iva is a Communications Specialist with an over-a-decade experience in environmental community work in the Philippines. As an environment educator, she focuses on events organization and IEC materials development. She’s now based in California and works in publications in San Francisco. She’s also the Creative Content Editor for the Global Filipino Network.
Iva Maurin
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8 thoughts on “Hiking Basics for the Clueless

  1. Kyntra Strickland

    I love hiking! I wish I had these tips when we began camping and hiking. I had a hard time coming to terms with digging my own toilet and not showering. Something about being out in nature makes it SO worth it!

    1. Iva Maurin Post author

      Still have a hard time… but when you need to go, you have to so you’re forced to learn. Not showering is another thing, especially when backpacking for over two days. Oh no! But yeah, after being out in nature not showering and all, you feel so empowered! Like, yes, I am stronger than I think I am!

  2. LC

    I’m not much of a hiker myself (have an aversion to walking. Up sharp inclines) but I do like the occasional stroll through the bush and agree – sun cover is essential as well as good footwear!

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