Hiking – A Great Fitness Tool

Hiking is a great way to get your exercise that takes you to beautiful scenery you won’t experience on a treadmill. Whether you are heading out for a two-hour hike or all afternoon, it is always important to remember to be prepare for your outing!

Experts say no matter if the trail you are heading out on is one you are familiar with or a new adventure, you should always have a compass as well as a map. If you don’t have a map of the area, I would highly recommend heading to the local Chamber of Commerce as they usually have all sorts of maps and information about the trails in the area. Another great resource, of course, is looking online for what is available in the area you are hiking. Where I live in Washington state, we have a fabulous website provided by Tri County Economic Development District that informs any visitor, as well as the locals who wants to learn more about trails in the area, about the various trails they can find including the different types of any trails such as ATV, bicycle, hiking, horseback, etc. So make sure to do your research to find the perfect trail for you!

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Next we need to pack a backpack of basic supplies. This, of course, depends on the number of hours you plan on being out, but things you should always carry with you in your backpack are a First-aid kit, sunscreen, lip balm, flashlight, matches in a waterproof container or a lighter, knife, sunglasses, a light jacket, water (along with water purifying tablets), and snacks. If you have room, I would suggest packing food, warm clothes, and a tarp for staying overnight just in case.

To break it down a little more, let’s talk about what you might want to carry in your First-aid kit. Obviously you can’t carry a whole medicine cabinet, but you should make sure to have a good First-aid kit stocked with supplies that will be useful should you have to use it during a hike. While there are lots of good pre-made kits you can purchase from REI, Cabela’s, Academy, or even Walmart, you can also create your own First-aid kit and keep it in your vehicle to use whenever you might need it. I personally purchased a small fanny pack and made my own First-aid kit that is easy to snap on under my backpack and has everything I need conveniently located in one place without having to take up room in my backpack.

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As for the basics you need to carry in your First-aid kit, there are a variety of supplies you can pick up to ensure you are ready for every emergency. To treat cuts, I would suggest carrying an assortment of adhesive bandages, including regular band aids, an assortment of sterile gauze pads (various sizes), small and large knuckle joint bandages, butterfly closures, medical tape, and fingertip bandages. In order to prepare and care for the wounds, your kit should also include hand cleansing wipes, alcohol pads, and triple-antibiotic ointment.

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To be prepared for those surprise insect stings, you should make sure to take along sting-relief wipes and allergy-relief tablets such as Benadryl, the pink one. It is also highly recommended to take some additional medications along with you such as antacid tablets, Motrin, and Tylenol. You can purchase these in individual packs or small 30 tablet forms. For those pesky blisters that sometimes form, it is recommended to include Moleskin in your pack or you might have the worse hiking trip ever. Along with these items, some additional items you need to include are disposable gloves, forehead temperature strips, scissors, tweezers, and an emergency blanket. While you don’t have to carry a lot of supplies, I would highly recommend several of each to be prepared for whatever mishaps may happen.

Lastly, let’s take a look at your snack list and what you might want to carry to give you that extra energy boost should you need it! For a quick fix, there are a variety of energy bars and energy chews or gels, one of my favorites being my NeoLife Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter bar that contains 10g protein, 5g fiber, and 320mg Omega-3s from flaxseed. If you have never had energy chews or gels, I would recommend trying them before you head out to ensure you like them. Additional easy snacks to bring along that don’t require a lot of space in your backpack are pretzels, granola bars, trail mix, and jerky. For a good lunch that is compact and easy to bring along you might consider a ready-made tuna salad pouch or maybe whip up a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

This article is meant to be a quick overview of a couple of the essentials you need to have a good hike. I encourage you to do more research should you be heading out for a day long trip to make sure you are as prepared as you can be for your adventure. Happy Hiking!