Hiking Gear Tips

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What should I include in a basic first aid kit to include with my hiking equipment?

First Aid Kits Are Essential Hiking Equipment

You should never leave home for a hike without a first aid kit. It's that simple. You never know what can happen in a split second when you're out on the trail. A basic first aid kit can help stabilize an injury until you can get help for the patient. It can help ease the aches and pains that come with hiking, as well.

You can create your own basic first aid kit with bandages, antiseptic ointments, gauze, pain relievers, hot-cold packs, and insect repellent, or you can pick up a kit at just about any hiking outfitter. Just make sure the kit you choose is lightweight, but still has the basics you'll need in any emergency.

A first aid kit is an essential part of your hiking equipment, but taking a class in first aid as a good idea as well. It can help prepare you for an emergency situation on the trail, and teach you first aid skills such as CPR or treating sprains and broken bones. You may not ever take need your first aid kit when you hike, but isn't it good to know it's always right there in your hiking supplies when you need it?

   
I need high quality camping and hiking gear, but it's expensive. Where can I find good used hiking gear?

How to Find Used Hiking Gear

Let's face it. Camping and hiking gear can get pretty pricey, especially if you're looking for high quality three- or four-season camping and hiking gear. You can look for used hiking gear in the classified ads or at garage sales, but you can't be assured of the quality and how that gear's been used (or abused) before.

When you shop for camping and hiking gear, watch for sales of returned gear. Many big gear outlets will offer slightly "used" (read returned) equipment at a great savings to your pocketbook. If you're not sure your local hiking outlet offers used camping and hiking gear, just give them a call! If they don't, they may have an idea for other sources, or they may offer to notify you of specials sales and discounts.

   
Why do I need a water filter?

Water Filters Belong in your Hiking Gear

It's a hassle to carry a lot of water along on the trail, but drinking water straight from a river, stream, or pond is no longer the safe thing to do. Invest in a small water filter that goes down to "1 micron" or less in filter size, and you'll easily filter out any bacteria that can do you harm.

Yes, you can boil water to purify it, but it takes a while, and uses up quite a bit of fuel. If you include a water filter in your hiking gear, you won't need to carry as much water or fuel, which is the key to happy hiking – keep the hiking gear light and easy to carry.

You can add chemicals, like iodine, to purify local water you find along the trail, but iodine does not protect against some types of micro-organisms that might be in the water, and it leaves a distinct taste in the water. So, your best bet is a lightweight and easy to use water filter that won't add weight to your hiking gear, but will give you peace of mind when it comes to drinking water along the trail.

   
Where can I find reliable camping and hiking gear reviews?

The Best Hiking Gear Reviews

The best hiking gear reviews may not come from magazines, websites, or camping and hiking gear outlets. The best hiking gear reviews come from your friends and experienced hikers who use the products they recommend.

For example, if you're looking for a durable but lightweight tent, ask your experienced hiker friends what they recommend before you head off to shop for camping and hiking gear. Or, check out some of the many Websites that offer hiking gear reviews from experienced hikers.

If you can't find what you're looking for, and your friends don't hike, then check out an online forum or two. If you post your questions, most hikers are happy to share their recommendations for their favorite camping and hiking gear, and tell you why it's their favorite, as well. Some sites offer detailed hiking gear reviews, as well.

Before you spend your hard earned dollars on camping and hiking gear, do your homework and check out hiking gear reviews. It can save you time and money!

   
How much gear will I need for a hiking trip?

All The Gear You Will Need

When hiking, you will most likely need the same amount of gear and hiking equipmentfor a three-day trip as you would for a ten-day trip. Weather is an unpredictable factor, however. Always prepare for the worst. Bring extra plastic ponchos, tarp, rope, and -- if you're using one -- a tent repair kit. The longer you hike, the more comfort you'll need. Consider thicker sleeping bag pads or even sunshower containers, which collect rain water and heat it with the sun's rays to give you a well-deserved shower every few days!

   
What is the best gear for hiking?

Gearing Up to Hike

If you are a beginning hiker, one of the most important questions you may have is where to get all the necessary equipment it will take to make your hiking experience a positive one. A good pair of trail shoes or running shoes are perfect for beginners. While it is certainly possible to find decent discount gear, be careful and search for reputable companies. Luckily, there are quite a few of them. These include Sierra Designs, REI, North Face, Marmot, and many more. Doing a little research before you start stocking up on gear will prove to be beneficial in the long run.

   
How important are provisions when hiking?

What To Bring When Hiking

Provisions, provisions, provisions! These are essential to your hiking supplies. Ask yourself how long you will be able to go without replenishing food or drink. Water is of utmost importance when planning an excursion. You will need about 3-4 liters a day. If you are not sure where or when you can replenish your water reserves, then the weight of the water alone will already add a serious load. Food will add another 1.5-2 pounds per day. In general it is unrealistic to go for longer than about a week to ten days without being able to replenish your provisions.

   
Do I need a sleeping pad as well as a sleeping bag?

Don't Forget the Padding

Packing a sleeping bag for longer hikes is standard, but don't neglect to pack a sleeping pad as well. Sleeping bags alone don't offer protection against the cold hard ground under your tent. Pads can come in a variety of thicknesses. Almost all are designed to roll up and attach to your backpack. Since pads are generally waterproof, made of some synthetic material, you can also use sleeping pads in emergency situations. They make excellent flotation devices if you ever find yourself stuck in high water!

   
What is a GPS device?

Get a Grip on Your Location

One of the most popular pieces of high-tech gear you can use on your hiking excursion is a GPS (Global Positioning System) device. Next to a map and compass, a GPS unit is your most important navigational tool. These devices can help search locations world-wide, expanding your horizons as a regular hiker. In addition, GPS devices are available with several accessories to make using them even more convenient. GPS holsters, for example, keep your unit strapped to your body for easy use. Many also offer recharging cords that plug right into your vehicle so you'll never run out of navigational power.

   
How do I use adjustable hiking poles?

Adjustable Hiking Poles

When hiking rocky terrains, using adjustable hiking poles are invaluable. Shorten your adjustable hiking poles on steep ascents to compensate for the height difference. On descending hikes, lengthen your poles so that your body will not lean forward, causing undue back strain. Your feet are great navigators, but trekking poles help you keep balance and reduce bad posture posture on uneven terrain.

   
What should I look for when buying a tent?

The Great Outdoors

Hiking trips can also include spending a few nights in the great outdoors. That's why you should invest in quality outdoor hiking and camping gear. When buying a tent, for example, there are a few things to keep in mind. Search for tents with strong fiberglass or aluminum-alloy poles. If you purchase a single-wall tent (for one or two people) then make sure that the fabric used is a waterproof and breathable laminate that offers enough protection. Double-wall tents should have a breathable inner fabric and a waterproof outer shell. Your comfort and safety should be a top priority.

   
What food should I bring on a hiking trip?

Food For Thought

If you're planning a longer hiking trip, here are some great foods to bring. Dried or dehydrated foods are lighter in weight and easier to pack and carry. They also retain much of their nutritional value. Some require the use of water for rehydration. Canned foods are easy to prepare, but heavier to carry. Bring these sparingly. Fresh food is ideal, but not always easy to keep fresh, especially in warmer climates. Try to keep variety in the food you choose to avoid boredom on long treks.

   
What can I use to make an emergency shelter?

Survival in the Outdoors

The concept of outdoor survival may seem frightening to some, but basic knowledge of a few techniques can save your life.
Always make sure you have a spare set of dry clothes with you, including t-shirts and trekking socks.
Learning how to make an emergency shelter is one such technique. Use a sheet, rope, and either poles or fixed natural objects such as trees to create a good makeshift shelter. The tips of hiking poles will help prop up your sheet. Trees offer branches and trunks that are great for tying down your lines. Use loose branches and/or rocks to anchor a line or weight down a sheet corner.

   
When do I need snowshoes?

Braving the Winter Weather

It's certainly an adventure camping or hiking in the winter weather. However, it's important to have the proper winter wear, including winter hiking pants and snowshoes. Snowshoes enable you walk over deep snow by distributing your weight over a larger area. They strap onto the bottoms of your hiking boots or shoes. Many are made with frames of hardwood or a similar material. Leather straps function to keep you from sinking into the snow.

   
What is a trekking pole?

Comfort on the Trail

Hiking is fun, but it can also be hard on your body. One of the best ways to eliminate undo strain on your limbs and back is to use hiking poles. Many of these poles are made of lightweight material and some are even collapsable to eliminate excess bulk on your backpack or daypack. Trekking poles typically have straps or handles at their tops so that you can easily loop your hands in and grip in comfort. Walk normally with the pole, leaning your weight slightly against the pole as you push off. Let the trekkng pole take the brunt of your efforts and save your energy for sight-seeing!

   
How do I align my compass to True North?

Finding Magnetic Declination with Your Compass

A compass is a necessity as part of your camping and hiking gear. Before you set out on your hike, you will need to adjust your compass to the correct magnetic declination of your hiking area. On your topographical map, find the magnetic declination information. This is usually indicated with two arrows: one signifying True North and one showing Magnetic North. Place your compass on your map, placing the heading arrow along the True North line. Turn the compass housing until it aligns with the Magnetic North line. Now turn your map until the compass is pointing North along the Magnetic North line. Now you will be aligned to True North.

   
Do I really need a GPS as part of my hiking equipment?

Make a GPS Part of Your Essential Hiking Equipment

Do you really need a GPS when you're out on the trail? If you hike in perfect conditions, on trails you know like the back of your hand – maybe not. After all, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) can be pricey, and many hikers wouldn't consider them a necessity. However, if you're heading out to uncharted territory, or the weather is changeable, they could be your ticket to getting back home safe and sound.

Several manufacturers make hand-held GPS units especially for hikers and backpackers. Some will pinpoint your exact location, so you can locate it on a topographical map (that you should always carry), and allow you to know exactly where you are at any second. Others allow you to program in your route, so you never veer off the beaten track. If you tend to explore new hiking areas all the time, a GPS is a necessary piece of hiking equipment. Get lost just once, and you'll see how handy they can be!

Even if you don't invest in a GPS as part of your standard hiking equipment, don't leave home without a compass and topographical map of the area you'll be hiking. Hiking may seem like a safe sport, but you can get lost in a second. Know your trails, carry a compass or GPS, and never hike after dark or in a brand new area without maps and knowledge of how to get back to your vehicle.

   
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Tammi Reynolds