Camping and hiking are two popular outdoor activities that can be practiced nearly anywhere and by anyone. Camping usually refers to staying overnight in a remote location, either in a primate shelter or cabin or a tent. Hiking refers more generally to walking in a natural setting. Often, hiking involves following a pre-specified route.
Planning Your First Trip
It’s a good idea to start small and work your way up to longer trips. The most significant challenge you’ll encounter along the way is likely to be maintaining your bearings. Even in national and state parks where trails are well-marked, you will need to make the right turns at junctions in order to ensure you know where you are. In remote areas, making sure you know where you are is even more difficult—especially in areas where trails have not been made. Before you leave, spend some time studying a guidebook or map to ensure you’re familiar with the route. You will need to pay attention along the way and anticipate turns and conditions along the way.
Camping and Hiking Gear
If you’ve never camped or hiked before, it can be difficult to know what you’ll need on your first trip. Indeed, there is so much camping and hiking gear out there that it can seem overwhelming for a beginner. But unlike other activities, forgetting an item can put you in a dangerous or unsafe situation. For instance, forgetting water purification tablets can mean that you run out of water. Forgetting a hat could mean that you spend the day under the sun’s harsh rays, risking a sunburn, dehydration, or even sunstroke.
If you’re going on your first camping trip, try using a camping and/or hiking checklist to identify what you’ll need. Go through the checklist with all your gear laid out and double check each item before you leave for your trip. This way, you won’t forget anything that could jeopardize your own safety.
Some Common Camping and Hiking Items
The following are some of the most commonly used gear items when it comes to camping and hiking:
- A day pack or backpack. A backpack is used to carry items such as clothing, a tent, or food. The longer the trip, the bigger the backpack you will need. It is, however, important to try to pack light when camping and hiking as you will have to carry everything with you on your back.
- A wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Many people underestimate the importance of protecting themselves from the sun’s rays when hiking or camping. But leaving your head exposed or getting a sunburn can put you at risk of sunstroke.
- Clothing and footwear. Having appropriate clothing to protect against the elements—especially rain or cold—is important. In addition, since you will be walking a lot, you will need comfortable footwear appropriate for the terrain. Hiking boots are a popular option.
- A tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping mat. If you will be staying overnight in the wilderness, you will need some form of shelter. Some trails have communal cabins, but if not, you will need to bring a tent and sleeping gear.