With warmer weather just around the corner, it’s time to start planning your next hiking adventure. From spectacular sunrises to stunning views, there’s nothing quite like a good hike! But before you head out on any of your adventures, make sure that you have all the essentials. Here’s a list of must-have items that should be in your bag:

1. The Right Shoes

Before you start packing, make sure to find the right shoes for the terrain and conditions. Look for shoes that have good grip, durability, and cushioning to keep your feet comfortable even after hours of walking. Wearing shoes without  proper grip or support can be dangerous as you traverse rocky surfaces and slippery trails. Try looking for a pair of waterproof shoes if you plan on hiking in wet conditions. For mountain hiking,  you may want to consider investing in a pair of hiking boots for extra protection.

2. Clothing Layers

It’s best to dress in layers when you’re hiking. This way, you can easily adjust your clothing as the temperature changes throughout the day. Pack at least three layers of clothing (base, mid-layer, and outer layer) – including a waterproof jacket – to ensure that you stay warm and dry no matter what Mother Nature throws your way. Sweat-wicking  fabrics such as polyester and merino wool will help keep you comfortable even when it’s hot outside. Some brands make clothes that easily compact into a tiny pouch, which makes packing (and finding space in your bag) a breeze.

3. Compact Umbrella

A compact umbrella is a great addition to your hiking bag. Even on days with forecasted sunshine, you never know when a rain shower might pop up. It will provide you with instant shelter from the rain, and can also be used as shade from the beating sun. Make sure to get one that is lightweight, waterproof, and collapsible for easy transport. This item is easily forgotten, so make sure to keep it in an accessible part of your bag. When you’re not hiking, a compact umbrella easily fits  in a purse or pocket so you can be prepared for any kind of weather.

4. Food and Water

Don’t forget to pack plenty of water and some snacks – like energy bars, trail mix, and dried fruits – to keep your energy levels up as you hike. Snacks such as  nuts, jerky, and hard-boiled eggs are also great sources of protein. Make sure to pack a reusable water bottle too so you can refill on the go. A water filter will also come in handy if you plan on drinking from streams and other natural sources. No matter what, don’t forget to stay hydrated!

5. First Aid Kit

Accidents happen, so having a first aid kit is essential for any outdoor activity. Stock your kit with bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relief medication – just in case! Read up on how to treat common hiking injuries and make sure that you’re prepared for any situation. Also take a look at any warnings and notices posted at the trailheads and research any animals that you may encounter while hiking. Being prepared in this way will give you peace of mind and will ensure that your hike is a safe one.

6. Navigation Tools

Avoid getting lost by bringing along a GPS device or compass to help you navigate your way. Nothing is worse than being lost in the wilderness! Having a map of the area is also important, as it will help you find your way back to civilization – and your car! When hiking in groups,  make sure to have walkie-talkies or a similar device to stay in contact with the rest of your group.

7. Sun Protection

Protect yourself from the sun’s harsh rays with a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. This will help keep you safe and comfortable while out on the trail. Shirts with long sleeves and pants with UV protection are also great for shielding your skin from the sun. Without proper  protection, you’ll be risking sunburns and heat exhaustion. Make sure to reapply your sunscreen throughout the day – and don’t forget your lips!

8. Headlamp or Flashlight

Always have a headlamp or flashlight handy in case you find yourself out after dark. You don’t want to be stuck in the woods without a way to light your path. If you don’t have a headlamp, make sure to pack extra batteries for your flashlight. This will help you stay safe and find your way home if the sun sets while you’re out on the trail.

With these items in your bag, you’re sure to have a safe and enjoyable hiking trip! What are you waiting for? Follow the tips above and get planning! Grab your gear and get out there!  Happy trails!