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Edward Abbey once said, “wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity to the human spirit.” Whether you are hiking by yourself or with friends, getting outside can be the best therapy available. With that fun, certain precautions need to be taken. The biggest mistake amateur hikers make, is under packing. No one wants to trek around with a heavy backpack weighing them down so instead he or she will forgo the essentials. Although this seems logical, it can have disastrous effects. Packing light has never been easier than it is now. Any outdoor store has aisles of lightweight and compact supplies for every kind of outdoor adventure. On a budget? No problem. The internet is chockfull of DIY projects for creating those necessities.

Desert Hiking Tips When packing for a hiking trip, it is essential to go through the following: Hydration, Nutrition, Communication, Prevention, Protection, Navigation, Insulation, Lighting, and a First Aid Kit. First and foremost, Hydration. Plan on needing 1 quart of water for every hour spent hiking. A portable water filter for wild sources along the path is especially handy, so you don’t have to weigh yourself down with water. Rule of thumb is if you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. Set a goal to drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty to avoid that. Next is nutrition, the second most important thing to consider for a hiking trip. Lots of little lightweight snacks such as granola bars or protein bars will help power through the hike. For overnight trips, the market is booming with easy to carry and cook camping food. Also, along the lines of nutrition is the need to restore electrolytes after being in the sun all day. Electrolytes can be found in drinks like Gatorade or in small packets that you simply mix with your water.

Another common mistake is the purchase of brand new hiking boots before a big hike. Hiking boots need to be broken-in to avoid sore feet and blisters. Underneath those broken-in hiking boots should be dry wick breathable socks. Avoid socks that retain moisture as that can cause issues as well. Appropriate clothing includes light layers to protect skin from the sun, long johns for overnight camping trips, wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and an emergency poncho for the inevitable rain storm. Due diligence is the best way to ensure comfort on the trail. Research the anticipated weather for that area and always pack for every condition possible.

Protect yourself with sunscreen before the day starts and pack enough to reapply every couple of hours, possibly more if the conditions are particularly hot and sweaty. Don’t let cloud cover fool you there are still dangerous UV rays that penetrate the clouds. Don’t rely on your phone to get you home. It is very easy to get turned around so bring a topographic map and compass as back up. If you are hiking alone make sure someone knows where you are and set up check-in calls. Be prepared to stay longer than intended by bringing a headlamp or flashlight just in case you stay out after dark. Always check the batteries before you get started, there is nothing worse than finding out the batteries are dead when you are out in the dark.

The last necessity is a first aid kit. If you don’t feel like packing a huge kit here’s a list of the essentials: moleskin, small scissors, tweezers, sport tape, NSAID’s or Acetaminophen and a lighter. Hiking, when done right, is magical. Some final pieces of advice are, start the day early before the heat sets in. Do your research on the area you’d like to visit, so you know what to expect. Be aware of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and how to avoid. Lastly, leave extra supplies in the car for after the hike. Enjoy all your future hiking endeavors.

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