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10 Essential Items for the PNW Hiker

Pack these items in your backpack before hitting the trail!

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| August 6, 2019
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We’re in the height of hiking season here in WA state! The snow has given way to groves of wildflowers, and the mountain’s jagged peaks are beckoning us to come and explore. Before hitting the trail, it’s important to make sure you’ve packed the right things to ensure a safe and fun adventure in the mountains. Here’s our list:

  1. 💧Water: Plain and simple, you won’t be a happy camper if you forget your water at home. We recommend leaving one large water bottle in the car, and then taking another with you in your backpack. Also, bring more water than you think you’ll need just in case your hike takes longer than you expected. For an additional benefit, consider bringing nuun tablets or water with added electrolytes to replenish your body after this good workout.
  2. 🥜 Food Yes, this is an obvious one, but not all food is created equal. Consider packing foods with high protein like protein bars, jerky, and mixed nuts. Grab low sodium versions of these snacks though to avoid dehydration.
  3. ☀️ Sun Protection:  Sunscreen (SPF 30+), chapstick, sunglasses and a hat. We have a fantastic assortment of sunscreen, so you’ll find the sunscreen that works best for you, whether you’re looking for a sweat-proof sunscreen, have sensitive skin, or are hiking with children and want baby sunscreen.
  4. ⚕️ First Aid Kit: Injuries happen on the trail, whether it’s someone in your party, or perhaps someone you come across while making your climb to the top. Take a look at your first aid kit and make sure it’s fully stocked with bandaids, gauze (in a variety of sizes), sterile wipes for cleaning wounds, scissors, hydrocortisone cream, ibuprofen, benadryl and wound tape.
  5. 🦗 Bug Spray: Unfortunately, it’s common to have to contend with pesky mosquitoes and biting flies in the North Cascades and Olympics. Never fear, bug spray will help you fend them off. If you’re not a fan of bug spray, consider lavender essential oil instead! Lavender is nature’s mosquito repellent, however, be mindful that bees are attracted to it.
  6. 🔦 Flashlight & Batteries: It’s easy to not properly allocate the amount of time a hike can take. Perhaps there are obstructions on the trail, it’s a steeper climb than you anticipated, or perhaps you even took a wrong turn and ended up on a different trail than you had planned. Whatever the reason, it is common for hikers to find themselves still hiking when dusk falls. A flashlight will help ensure a safe and less anxious trip down the mountain.
  7. 🛏️ Emergency Blanket: We hope you never have to use this one, but in the event you find yourself still on the mountain at dark or during a storm, you’ll find the temperature can drop pretty drastically, even in the summer months. An emergency blanket is a very light weight and very effective tool keep you warm and prevent hypothermia if needed.
  8. 🖐️ Toe/Hand Warmers:  Same with an emergency blanket, toe and hand warmers are beneficial even in the summer when you’re backpacking, camping, or find yourself caught in a storm.
  9. 🔥 Fire Starter/Lighter: Fire is another important element when you’re out in nature. Fire can be used to boil water for drinking (if you can’t find potable water) or cooking, to keep you warm, and to cook up a tasty meal. Be mindful and careful of fire warnings and whether you’re allowed to light fires in your hiking/backpacking area given the dryness of the soil and time of year. Fires can easily spread and become out of control quickly.
  10. 🗺️ Other Items: You’ll also want to consider items such as a map of your hiking area, a compass, and a swiss army knife/pocket knife. We don’t currently carry these items at our Bartell stores.

Are there any other items that you consider essential for hiking? Tell us in the comments!

Happy Hiking.