The First 6 Essentials for your Hiking Trip

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and my very eager dog has been ready to go since 6am.

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and my very eager dog has been ready to go since 6am. His newest favorite thing is hiking a couple of the trails here in Upstate New York and he somehow knows that the “I’m sorry buddy, it’s just so cold out” no longer applies and it’s been nice to start getting up and going out into the world of clean nature made oxygen and adventurous hiking and outdoors man behavior.

Last year I helped move a friend of mine cross country and we made the stop at the Grand Canyons and went all the way down. From the bottom we laid on benches at Phantom Ranch and watched the crystal clear stars from achy bodies. It was an unnatural feeling to remind myself that the world I knew was above me, and at the tops of those mountain-like towers was where everyone else was.

After that trip I was hooked. Have you had an adventure like that?

Since then I’ve collected a few things that I love to bring with me. Most of my trips are day trips, around 1-3 miles and pretty local, but my wife and I are gearing up for our trip back to the Canyons so I can share that experience with her.

1. Sensible Shoes
Duh, but still… My hiking boots are from a brand called Keens and they ran me about $160 at a mountain sports store in Taos, NM. I didn’t have time to shop around because the shoe options I had for the GC weren’t cutting it and I bought from a small local shop. For great boots I haven’t seen any that weren’t around $100, but shop around.

Get boots that fit without being too tight, too loose, or rubbing on your heel. Some mountain sports stores have an incline ramp that you can try your boots on and see how they move while heading up or down an incline.

2. An STP
STP stands for stand-to-pee and it’s a device I’m glad I mastered before hiking and camping season. This product is essentially a funnel, or pee-redirection-unit so that you can stand in the bushes and relieve yourself. After all of that staying hydrated work, my bladder thanked me every single time. It also made the journey more enjoyable not having to constantly plan for public facilities.

My STP, after 10 years in the market, is The Real EZP from Transthetics. It looks real, it’s easy, and after 2-3 practice times at home, out in the field I’ve yet to pee on myself!

3. Backpack
The size and function, or need, for a backpack will be decided on how long your trip is. There are bags that can pack supplies for a week, a weekend, or a day trip. I would always recommend bringing a bag because there are some good things to keep in it at all times that even on a 1-3 mile trip you might find yourself in need of.

Items such as travel size first aid kits, small snacks for potential low blood sugar attacks, etc. I like to keep a fresh shirt in my bag incase I need to stop at the store on the way home. I also keep a small towel incase I see a creek I want to stand in along on the way.

Since I have a dog, I keep some treats, poop bags, and an extra leash in the bag, and a dog sized towel in the car.

4. MapMyHike
Created by Under Armor, MapMyHike is a free app that will track your trail, your time, your pace, and your calories burned. Then you can save it and make notes about it and it creates a diary of trails for you.

5. Another app for long hikes is Charity Miles. This organization donates money to a charity of your choosing per mile you walk each day.

6. Walking Poles
On my Canyon trip, I honestly believe it would have been at least 75% harder without two walking poles. It really moved all of the muscle work and weight evenly onto both my upper and lower body. It’s a good way to include your upper body in your hiking work out and stabilize yourself over more difficult trails.

Got mine at Walmart for $20