6 Essentials for Your Next Summer Hike

"Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair."- Kahlil Gibran

Summer is here and the great outdoors are calling. Research shows that spending time in green space leads to significant health benefits including; decreased stress and anxiety, increased self-esteem and creativity, and help to eliminate fatigue.  One of the best ways to enjoy the season is to head for the mountains and go on a hike. Your specific location and climate will dictate the exact gear you need, but here are six summer hiking essentials to always carry in your bag to ensure your day in nature is safe and enjoyable.

  • Nourishment: After miles of sweating or grunting uphill, you’ve arrived at the summit.  What’s the first thing you’re going to do? Probably sit down, relax and refuel. A peanut butter sandwich or trail mix is an easy and typical go-to, but there are way more delicious options. Opt instead for ALOHA's plant-based Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bar. The salty sweet merger has 14 grams of protein and only 4 grams of sugar. All protein bars are USDA organic as well as gluten, dairy, and soy free.

  • Water: Staying hydrated begins before your feet hit the trail. Drink 15-20 ounces before heading out, and keep your water bottle accessible while you’re on the trail. The amount of water you need to consume depends on factors like activity intensity, duration and sweat rate, a general recommendation is about a half liter of water per hour. Water weighs a lot, so if you’ll be out for a while, bring a water filter and map out the nearest lake or stream to refill.

    • Sun Protection: The sun on our bare skin feels so 
    • good, and it’s the most natural way to get Vitamin D. But without proper protection, you’re doomed for a painful sunburn. Here are a few ways to avoid overexposure and defend your vulnerable skin: 
    • Wear proper clothing: A long sleeve shirt and pants will shield your skin from UV radiation. Add a hat and polarized sunglasses to protect your neck, ears, face and eyes.
    • Choose safe sunscreen: Apply a non-toxic sunscreen 15 minutes before sun exposure. SPF 15 is the minimum rating dermatologists recommend, however the FDA recommends that you reapply any sunscreen every two hours regardless of the SPF rating. Find a sunscreen that’s labeled “broad spectrum” which will shield skin from both UVB and UVA rays. Also beware that they higher you climb, the more intense the sunlight will be.
    • Start Early: Arrive to the trailhead around sunrise and try to avoid hiking when the sun's rays are at their strongest (10am-2pm). Take it as an opportunity to rest in the shade, or snack on a protein bar and rehydrate.  
  • Extra Clothing: Summer doesn’t automatically mean sunshine and clear blue skies. In fact, in areas like Colorado and Arizona, summer storms are quite common and can bring heavy rainfall.  Expect colder temperatures in the mountains and be prepared for less than ideal weather by packing strategic layers. Opt for a light rain coat that will keep you dry but not weighed down. Bring a warm fleece to pull on once you reach the summit. And bring an extra pair of socks and gloves to keep your extremities warm when you’re not moving.

  • First Aid Kit: Create your own or purchase a pre-packaged adventure medical kit that comes with wound care items such as bandages, splints, antiseptic wipes and medications like ibuprofen and aspirin. Knowing how to use these items are just as important as having them on the trail, so consider taking a training course or read up on outdoor safety before starting a hike.

  • Navigation: Physical  trail maps are great, but they’re no longer the only way to ensure you stay on course. Use an app like “All Trails” or “Gaia GPS” to download the map to your phone for offline use. This allows you to view detailed map information and navigate using the phone's built-in GPS even when you don't have a data signal. 

  • Note: If you’re going to rely on your phone, make sure you have plenty of battery and a back up way to charge it.

     

    About the Author, Leslie Schipper Carvitto:

    Leslie is a free-spirited, wanderlusting adventurer who has made proximity to nature a top priority. With an insatiable desire for travel, new experiences, and epic views, her time is spent hiking mountain ranges, photographing excursions, and documenting it on her blog Forever Stoked. Her creative work is a vibrant representation of her zest for life and gratitude for the miraculous human experience.