We heart the outdoors, and summer is the perfect time to explore them. Hiking offers a lot of benefits; it’s great exercise, it connects you to nature, and it allows you to fulfill your sense of adventure and exploration.
It is not, however, something you should just wake up one day and decide to do. For both safety and practicality, you need to make sure you have the right gear before embarking on any adventure. Despite it’s name, Sportsmans Warehouse is a great place to find tons of gear for almost any summer outdoor activity, even if you’re a woman.
Running shoes, hiking shoes and your daily tennies are all built different and for different purposes. Running shoes are build for predictable forward motion, for example, and don’t provide a lot of support to your ankles when it comes to side-to-side movement. You know that on a hiking trail, predictable, forward motion is not typically the norm. You’ll be dealing with rocks, roots and possibly even streams during your journey, so you want to get a shoe that provides you with proper support. Doing so lessens your chances of strains, sprains and other injuries.
Ditch the Ponchos
Ponchos may be cheap and packable, but they’re also uncomfortable, move with the wind, and are disposable, putting a greater strain on the environment. If you’re a serious hiker, making the investment in a good jacket in case of inclement weather is a good idea. Be sure to pick one that’s lightweight, breathable, easy to fold down small into your pack, and will allow for a full range of motion with your arms. Draw strings or velcro on the hood are also a good idea as that will help keep you dry if you get hit with rain and wind simultaneously.
We know! For a while we thought these disappeared with the late 90s, too! But they’re still around in the world of outdoor sports. When it’s hot outside, you obviously want to stay cool, but when you’re hiking, you might encounter areas of high brush. You want to protect your skin from ticks and other bugs, as well as poisonous plants. Zip-offs allow you to do that while switching to cooler shorts when you’re along an easier part of the trail.
A Quality Pack
Hiking is hard work. The last thing you want is an uncomfortable pack digging into your back or weighing you down as you climb mountains or trudge through rivers. Invest in an ergonomic, lightweight pack that allows you to store enough stuff that you’ll be able to last in the outdoors for a couple of nights at least.
A fully-equipped first aid kit is a must. You may be miles from any medical care when injury strikes, so you want to be able to treat anything that comes up as best you can on your own. Go out without supplies, and you’re putting yourself in real danger.
Don’t Get Lost
If you can find your way home by tracking animals and watching the stars, that’s awesome. But most novices are going to want a device to help them figure it out. Back in the day, a compass and map were the only way to do that, but with today’s technology you can get a GPS that comes with maps (including topography,) an electronic compass, and even waypoints to geocaches and ways to share your adventures via social media. While the last two aren’t a necessity, be sure you have a device that will at least help you find the way home.