The 10 Essentials You Should Bring Every Time You Go Hiking

Back in the 1930s, The Mountaineers Ten Essentials was created as a way to keep people safe during outdoor recreation. These safe practices still stand today, and we highly recommend that you pack your Ten Essentials every time you step onto a trail.

Even if you have been on a particular trail a dozen times, unexpected things happen, and you’ll be so grateful you had all of these items! For those adventures that you didn’t end up needing them, celebrate that it was a safe trip and admire your new muscles and strength from the extra weight you carried ;)

1) Navigation (map, compass, GPS)

Most of us use our phones for just about everything. The GPS on your phone is a fantastic tool to use when you’re hiking. While it’s great to have, make sure you also bring a map along with your compass, and know how to read it (we will be providing more information in the future on navigation)! Sometimes weather conditions change unexpectedly, or you find yourself off the trail accidentally, or you get turned around after checking out that epic view; a topographic map will help you navigate safely back to the main path.

2) Water

Our bodies need water to perform well while hiking, so please, we can’t stress this one enough: carry lots of water! Whether you bring multiple water bottles or use a hydration bladder, drink about 16-32 ounces every hour (depending on the intensity of your hike and the heat), and also remember to also replenish your electrolytes with snacks so your sodium and potassium levels stay balanced as you rehydrate. If your trail has a known water source, it’s also a good idea to bring a water filtration device (and let’s be honest, water tastes sooooo good from a fresh alpine lake or river).

3) Sun Protection

We feel like this one gets skipped sometimes, but it’s really important: protect your skin with sun protection. Polarized sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, while sunscreen (the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends wearing broad spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or higher for anyone spending the day outside) and headwear protect your head and skin. We love our summer tans, but there’s no need to become a lobster! Don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours, especially on those long hiking days.

4) Food

Aside from the fact that we all burn a ton of calories while hiking, if you’re stuck in a situation where you're on the trail longer than expected for any number of reasons, extra food will keep your energy stores replenished, and keep your hanger levels to a minimum. It’s recommended that you carry at least an extra day’s worth of food. We love using reusable bags to store our extra food in!

5) First Aid

Accidents and blisters happen, so be prepared with a first aid kit. Whether you make your own or buy a first aid kit, we strongly encourage you to not only have a kit, but know how to use it. Some kits come with guides, and there are also some great first aid courses that are specific to accidents and injuries that occur in the wilderness. Don’t depend on someone else, empower yourself and learn first aid.

6) Insulation

The day started out bright and sunny, but suddenly a new weather pattern roles in and you’re left cold or wet (or both)! That’s why it’s recommended to wear layers and bring extra insulation (and extra socks … walking in wet socks is the absolute worst!)

7) Headlamp (and extra batteries)

Whether you’re on a planned night hike, or you found the perfect swim spot and find yourself hiking later in the day than you had planned, always have a headlamp to light your way and keep you safe. Trust us: you don’t want to try and find your way home on a dark trail!

8) Shelter

A tarp, bivy, or emergency blanket are lightweight and an easy way to protect yourself from harsh elements when you’re stranded during an emergency. Sometimes all you need is a little time to let inclement weather pass, but even a short amount of time completely exposed could be a problem, so better to err on the side of caution and have that emergency shelter with you.

9) Knife

Knives are the jack of all trades in the outdoors: use it for first aid, to repair your broken gear, meal time, etc. This one often goes overlooked, but you can get one as simple and lightweight as you want, or as multifunctional as you need. Just remember to take it out of your pack if you’re going through security! We love this Leatherman—it has a number of different pliers, wire cutters, knife, saw, hammer, bottle and can openers, a diamond-coated sharpener, fire starter, whistle, etc.

10) Fire

Nobody likes to think about unexpected events happening while hiking. So simply throw your waterproof matches or windproof lighter in your pack along with a small fire starter (in case natural resources are limited) and hope you’ll never need to make an emergency fire to prevent hypothermia or use as a signal if you get lost. It’s always best to prepare for the unexpected (have we highlighted that enough times yet?) and have peace of mind.

At Alpine Sisters, we believe you should always be plan ahead so you can have a comfortable, happy and safe experience in the wilderness. We all take risks each day that we prepare for, then never think about again unless we need to. Do the same with your 10 Essentials: pack it, and hopefully you’ll never need them in an emergency situation.  

Check out our Hiking Box for our favorite hiking essentials. We’ve done the research and tested our high-quality gear in the field so that you can spend less time shopping, and more time adventuring. We've also made an extended Day Hiking Essentials Checklist that we invite you to print out for your personal use.

We love seeing amazing, strong women exploring, so tag @alpine_sisters so we can see where your adventures take you!

Happy trails!

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