Top Ten Hiking Essentials

"An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." - Henry David Thoreau

Whether you go to the woods to live deliberately or merely to take the air, certain items are indispensable. They'll make your experience more enjoyable, and in extreme cases, they could save your life--it's a wild world out there.

Ultimately, your experience with nature is your own, and you shouldn't listen to me or anyone else who tells you that you must do things a certain way. I can only offer a few pointers based on my own experiences with the Canadian wilderness. Take them or leave them as you wish.

All hikes are not created equal--some last minutes, others days. Obviously, their "essentials" vary.

The Top Ten

1 Appropriate footwear

Absolute. The idiots that say cellphone need to learn about maps, trails, nature. Stay in the city if you can't live without your obnoxious cellphone obsession. We hate you on the trails.

Depending on terrain and conditions, "appropriate footwear" could be anything from sneakers to snowshoes. Solid traction is essential and waterproofing is highly recommended. - PetSounds

Absolutely. Crocs just won't cut it for ventures such as these, my friends. - BKAllmighty

2 Cell phone

No, this is not essential so you can pop in earbuds and listen to inspirational music while posting oak tree selfies on every social media platform known to man. It's essential because you never know what's going to happen in the woods, and it can happen quickly. A means by which to contact help and broadcast location might save your life or anothers. Plus, it's never a bad idea to carry a camera, GPS, and field guide in your pocket.

Personally, I leave mine in "Do Not Disturb" mode and only use it to take an occasional picture. - PetSounds

3 Appropriate clothing

Maybe a T-shirt, maybe a parka. An extra pair of socks is a good idea--I've regretted not packing one countless times. Soakers are easy to come by. - PetSounds

4 Insect repellent

Insect repellent is a high priority if you're going through a hiking area populated by insects. - illusion

There are a variety of products and myths that claim to keep mosquitoes and their fellow bloodsuckers away. None of them work, but good old bug spray fails the least miserably. - PetSounds

I am a mosquito magnet so this item is always number one on my list. - BKAllmighty

The Best Idea - oldfashionedmickeymousecol1995

5 Walking stick/poles

I use "Nordic walking poles"--basically glorified ski poles. They not only exercise your upper body but provide better balance and grip on treacherous terrain. - PetSounds

6 A hiking buddy

Bringing a buddy is essential when you're hiking in long trail especially. In case of critical situations, having a good reliable companion with you makes a major difference to your experience. - illusion

Just my regular walk? No big deal. But If I'm checking out a new trail or exploring farther afield, I never go alone. Having another person along keeps you safer and can enrich the experience. Make sure s/he is the kind of person you can spend a couple isolated hours with. - PetSounds

7 Water

Water is always essential in all circumstances; one of the human basic needs. Learning water purification methods increases survivability and can save your life in case you run out of water supply. - illusion

It is possible to find or otherwise create sanitary drinking water in the bush if you know what you're doing. But do you really want to? - PetSounds

If your out for a long time you'll need a filter to pump some more - RecklessGreed

8 Food

Always bring packs of food when hiking at longer trails. - illusion

A granola bar can work wonders if you're low on energy. - PetSounds

9 First aid kit

Just in case you injure yourself during the hiking session. - illusion

You're probably picturing some suitcase with a red cross on its side. While one of those would no doubt be ideal, it would also be rather unwieldy. I keep a few band-aids and some disinfectant in a pocket. - PetSounds

10 Mace

Um ya mean the bear spray yeh like In that/dat

I've encountered wolves, bears, coyotes, wildcats, and other animals that could easily kill me. Chances are I'll never need it, but I don't want to be that person who's not prepared. Wildlife is called wildlife for a reason-- why not give it the respect it deserves? If you're not convinced, message me and I'll describe the freshly killed deer carcass I discovered one winter morning. - PetSounds

The Contenders

11 A knife

I am not going anywhere without a knife - xaf208

Watch 127 hours.

12 Sunscreen
13 Fire materials

In case you get lost - SirSheep

14 Bear Spray
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