Here at APE Survival, you could say we're a little crazy for the outdoors. I'm out camping and hiking with my family at least twice a month, and there's more people everyday taking up active hobbies which are good for health, as well as your spirit.
But whenever you're heading out to the wild, you need to be prepared.
With the right gear and supplies everyone is going to have a great time on a hike, but forget a couple of key items and things can get uncomfortable, really quick. And that's not even the worst part. Should something bad happen, like a sprained ankle or getting yourself lost, you need to ensure you've got what you need to survive, until a rescue team can find you.
Today we're going to run through what a beginner needs to know before their first hike, and what you need to bring. We're imagining you're headed out for a 3-4 hour hike, in relatively nice weather, and as such what we're recommending you to pack reflects that.
If you're going to be stomping around in the snow or spending a week trekking the trails, you may need to change this up a bit, so feel free to build on this list as you need.
First, pick a pair of comfortable boots or sneakers that you're going to be able to walk in all day without getting blisters. Remember if you've just bought a fancy pair of hiking boots to break them in before you tackle a hike, and bring a change of socks just in case.
For clothing it's going to depend on the climate, but in general you'll need a decent pair of pants and a loose long sleeve shirt. No jeans and no cotton. You want clothing that wicks away the moisture from your body, and hiking in jeans just downright sucks. Add a hat and you'll be sweet keeping the sun off, a pair of sunglasses and a light jacket to keep off any rain.
Now you've got to decide where to go, and how long to hike for. If you're not used to exercise, pick somewhere that's only an hour or two. There's plenty of easy hikes you can tackle on a Sunday afternoon, as you start leading a more active life.
If you're worried about getting lost I'd advise finding a buddy to pair up with. I normally take my family with me when I hike, it's a great bonding activity and it helps get my daughter comfortable in the woods. Going alone is certainly doable, but it's a tad more dangerous and I'd recommend against it if you're not yet comfortable with your hiking and outdoor skills.
Before you leave let someone know where you're headed and when you'll be back, just in case. They're your backup plan, and can alert the authorities should you not make it home. This is more of a precaution than anything, and for my sake, do it. Just in case.
Now it comes time to pack your kit. This will change depending on weather, how long you're planning to spend in the woods, and any sort of obstacles you may come across along the way. As we're targeting this to new hikers, we'll give you a complete breakdown of everything you should be taking on a general day hike, as you start learning to get comfortable in the wild.
Find a small backpack. It doesn't need to be fancy, just something to keep your gear together. Remember, this is to introduce you to hiking. If you decide you love it you can buy a proper pack down the track, until then an old schoolbag or backpack you've got lying around your house is plenty good enough.
Charge your smartphone and load an app that allows you to navigate via GPS, as well as some maps of the area you're planning to hike. I'd also throw in a charger and a small battery pack, as your phone can die quickly, and that's the last thing you want if there's an emergency. If you're going somewhere particularly remote, buy a map of the area and bring a compass. Hopefully you won't need it, but these are worth their weight in gold should you get lost.
Throw in sunscreen and some bug spray, and make yourself a basic first aid kit. Mine's got a handful of band-aids, as well as moleskin for blisters, a small bottle of disinfectant for any cuts, and a couple of bandages just in case I roll an ankle. Oh and my pocketknife too.
One of our products that you should also throw in is the survival grenade. It comes in an easy kit that clips onto your bag, and in addition to containing a small fishing kit, 9ft of paracord, wire, needles and a scalpel, it's got a nifty little firestarting kit too. It's worth bringing along with you, just in case.
For food I go mostly healthy, throwing in a couple of apples, some dried apricots and sultanas, and some generous handfuls of cashews. I'll also pack some of my wife's homemade deer jerky, and raid the granola bars in the cupboard. That's plenty for a day hike, especially if you've had a decent breakfast at home before you leave.
Finally, you can't forget water. Ensure you've had enough to drink before starting your hike, and bring about a liter or two with you. Of course, if you're somewhere that's crazy hot you might want a little more, or if you know you're going to need more just bring it. You need to be the judge here.
Now it's up to you. Pick somewhere and go for a hike this weekend. We've given you a basic list of everything you need to get out and explore, so lace up those boots and go do it. Oh and if you've got anything you'd like to share with all the other hikers out there, let me know in the comments!