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Gearing up for the trail

Vicki Clinebell majored in journalism at the University of Colorado, and headed an advertising agency before beginning a long career in broadcasting, spanning production and copywriting to sales and management for an ABC affiliate statio...

Make a list, and check it twice

Gear up for a safe and fun day on the trail with these helpful hiking tips.

couple on a hike together

Hikers don't want to carry unnecessary extra weight on the trail, but the right gear is vital to a successful day of hiking. Getting started with the right equipment doesn't need to be expensive. Make a checklist of the items you'll need, and speak with veteran hikers for more ideas and tips, or take a hiking safety orientation class. You'll get valuable training and feel more confident about the preparations you need to make. Here are a few key items to get you started.

Backpack

Personal preference will be the deciding factor in choosing a backpack, as both internal and external frame models work well. Just make sure your pack is adjustable so that the weight can be transferred to either your shoulders or your hips by adjusting the straps. This will make the pack much more comfortable to carry while you hike. Backpacks come in all shapes and sizes -- Timberland has excellent choices to suit every hiker. Try on several to find your ideal size, weight and fit. This daypack provides comfort for your back, even during long hikes.

Quick Tip Check your compass skills before you head for the woods! Practice using it and learn how to orient yourself -- try it at night for an extra challenge and no help from local landmarks!

Checklist

Perhaps the most important part of your hiking checklist: comfortable footwear. It's a priority to have proper hiking footwear that's been broken in, so you are not limping along with the pain of blisters a mile into your hike!

Your checklist should also include these essential items:

  • Whistle
  • Trail snacks for quick energy
  • Plenty of water and purification tablets
  • A small first aid kit
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Map and compass
  • Warm clothing
  • Extra socks
  • Hat and gloves
  • Long pants and a wind-stopper fleece jacket
  • A pack of waterproof matches
  • Throat lozenges
  • A small tin of aspirin or other pain-killer

For your safety

Bring your identification and medical insurance ID along with you. Before you head out, give a trusted friend or relative information on where you will be hiking and when you plan to return. Write it down to avoid any miscommunication, and ask the person to check that you have returned as scheduled. If you're hiking as part of a group, list basic information on each individual: name, address and contact phone number. Keep a copy in your pack during the hike. If the group gets separated, it will be a helpful reference for rescuers.

Sunstroke can be a serious issue, so wear a cap with a bill, have sunglasses and don't neglect to apply  (and reapply throughout the day) a good coat of sunscreen on all exposed areas.

Hiking is a fabulous exercise that lets you enjoy the best of nature and beautiful outdoor areas. Be prepared with the proper gear, and get out there to enjoy it!

The great outdoors



Discover popular outdoor adventures where you live with our Outdoor Activities Guide. From hiking trails to balloon rides, we've got you covered. What are you waiting for? Mother Nature awaits!

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