Guest post: “Seven things I didn’t know I needed until I started hiking” by Shawn Michaels

When I first started hiking, I thought it was simple as packing a bag and leaving for the adventure of a lifetime. Soon I realized it wasn’t quite so simple. Here are the seven things that I did not know I needed until I started hiking:

A detailed guidebook

If I’d had a guidebook with detailed information about the terrain and trail condition, it could have saved me from a lot of bruises and injuries. I would have brought hiking poles along with me to help with the rough terrain and it would have also helped me realize what I didn’t have to bring, saving weight and making it easier on my ankles. A guidebook can be especially handy in areas where there’s no cell phone reception and you can’t get online to find out information about the trails.

Head lamps

Setting up a tent for the first couple of times took me longer than I thought, especially since I was tired after having hiked all day.  Using a head lamp meant I could set up the tent hands-free. I’ve also found them helpful on day hikes that have taken longer than I expected.

Adequate amount of food

If a hike takes longer than you expect, will you have enough food to survive? What foods give you the most nutrition per ounce, allowing you to take several days’ worth, if necessary, without weighing you down? Snacks and food with 100 calories per ounce are your best bet. Check out this article for some examples.

Proper maps

Like guidebooks, maps can be life-savers, especially detailed ones that show water sources and other places for you to plan your stops. The maps in guidebooks can sometimes be small and not very detailed, so taking a larger, fold-out map as well is recommended. Not sure what to look for in a map? Here are some ideas.

Proper footwear and clothes

You are going for a hike, not a party. Functionality comes first, then style. Pack clothes that are made of very light and stretchable fabric and wear waterproof shoes with thick, warm socks. Trail runners are best for a fast pace and turkey hunting boots can provide extra ankle support over tricky terrain.

Water filter

Thanks to your maps and guidebooks, you know where the water sources on your hike are, but without a good filter, they won’t do you much good. Having lived in the suburbs, I never thought I’d need a water filter until I got out into the wilderness. You can’t last a day without water, but a gallon of it weighs eight pounds, which starts adding up quickly. Being able to filter water from springs and creeks can save you a lot of weight off your back. Here are some suggestions about what to look for in a water filter.

Vitamins and Electrolyte Salt

You can go about your daily life without supplements or your daily dose of vitamins, but the exertion of hiking makes you realize just how much you need them. Electrolyte salts are also necessary and ensure their worth during such adventurous times.

Shawn Michaels is a blogger who loves to write about his outdoor experiences. He is also a passionate rock climber and loves traveling. Currently, he is studying and spends his free time reading reviews and gear shopping! He regularly blogs at

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