New to hiking? Welcome! We are here to support you. We want everyone to have fun, enjoy the outdoors, and celebrate our connection with nature and our selves.
Before going on a hike, make sure to pack these Hiking Essentials as weather and trail conditions can change at any moment. If you are hiking alone, please inform someone of where you’re going and when you plan to return. And always practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace.
Navigation: It’s important that you do your research before hiking. I check several sources before I head out on a hike. There are many online sources & books available on hiking in any specific area. Information regarding trail length, elevation gain, and anything else you need to be aware of (creek crossings, animals) is vital in your enjoyment of hiking. It’s a great idea to take screen shots on your phone of driving directions & trail maps. In addition, it’s best to have a printed copy in your pack of that information in case anything should happen to your phone. You can also photocopy the pages from the hiking book you use. I also check recent trail reports, talk to forest/park rangers, and research the weather for the day of the hike.
“I recently started using Alltrails Pro. It is only $29.99 for a year. The thing I love about it is the information is usually really accurate. You can leave reviews & read others reviews of the trails. The BEST part? When you have Pro you can download trail maps to your phone so even if you don’t have cell service, the map works & even shows you where you are on the trail (via a little blue dot.) It’s incredibly useful!” —Summer, Fat Girls Hiking founde
Clothing/Footwear: When I first started hiking I wore workout clothes & sneakers, which worked perfectly fine when I was a beginner. As I hiked more and knew that hiking was going to be a real big part of my life, I realized having hiking boots would be more comfortable, offer ankle support & keep our feet dry in the rainy months. They say that cotton kills in the woods. Which simply means cotton gets wet (from sweat, rain) easily, takes a long time to dry, and can cause hypothermia. As a day hiker, it’s not going to be a huge issue but for your own comfort look for clothing that is wicking: wool, silk or synthetic fabric. A list of our fave small-business activewear/gear companies: click HERE. I also find that sun hats (wide brim or baseball) give us more protection from the sun & make hikes during the summer months cooler & more enjoyable in the winter as a shield from the rain.
Day pack: There are so many options for hiking day packs. Fit is key in being comfortable while hiking. Head to your local small business outdoor retailer (support the small businesses if you can! In Portland, I LOVE Next Adventure!) to get measured for the right pack for you. I personally wear a Granite Gear Athabasca 26 men’s pack & love it!
Water: Hydrate the night before a hike, on the drive to the trailhead, during the hike, and after. I bring a gallon of water to leave in the car to top off water bottles before & after hikes. Most day hikers who aren’t filtering water should carry at least 1-2 quarts of water (32-64oz) depending on the length of the hike & how hot it is outside. Also, we bring a nice bubbly can of La Croix water for a mid/after hike luxury!
Snacks/Food: Trail mix, protein jerky, granola bars, dried fruit, nut butter packets. On longer hikes we pack a lunch of cold pasta salad or a sandwich.
Camera: Smart phones take incredibly good photos these days and they are light & easy to access. If you bring a digital camera, consider a waterproof, padded bag to keep it safe while hiking. (Personally, I use an old tortilla bag to keep my camera dry. 😁)
Small essential items: Small first aid kit, headlamp/flashlight, pocket knife, toilet paper, a small trash bag (Ziploc freezer bags work wonderfully) to pack out all your trash & pick up any trail trash you come across, tampon/maxi pad, chap stick, sunscreen, sunglasses, bug spray, fire (matches/lighter), hand sanitizer, prescription eye wear, personal locator beacon (if you’re hiking alone in remote areas.)
Cash/ID: Trail head parking lots often require a parking pass (usually $5 or $10). Also, you might want an after hike snack/meal in a town nearby! I always slip my IDs in my pack as well & leave our wallets at home.
After Hike Self Care Items: Leave flip flops (your sore hiking feet will thank you!), dry clothes (during the rainy season), extra water & snacks in a cooler in your car.
American Hiking Society offers all the info you need on how to mind your manners in the outdoors.
Pooping & Peeing
The not-so-glamorous side of hiking is when you’ve got to use the bathroom. We definitely don’t see any Instagram posts about that! At first, pooping in the woods can seem like a strange & challenging concept, but it just takes a little practice. And it’s really not that bad. Here’s a great article to get you started & keep you informed: Human Waste Disposal in the Backcountry: How to pee and poop in the woods. Typically, we use the cathole method to bury poop & use white, non-perfumed biodegradable toilet paper. Keep in mind that when pooping or peeing in the woods that the standard rule is to stay 200 feet from campsites, water sources, and trails.
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