What's in My Backpack? Hiking Essentials for Summer

Getting out into nature helps to relax and re-center us so we can do our best in our daily lives!  With summer in full swing it's the perfect time for some great hiking and backpacking trips that will do just that.   There's all sorts of equipment and tips out there for hiking and backpacking heres a great list of 10 essentials that have worked the very best for me.  

Hydration
This might seem like a silly super obvious one - yes, you must bring water with you on your hikes.  But, there are so many water bottle options!! Theres hydration packs, collapsable's, insulated, etc. and I wanted to highlight when I like to use which.  Camelbaks and other water bladders are perfect for long hikes and backpacking trips where you need to carry a pretty substantial amount of water.  The disadvantages to this is it can be heavy, but necessary on long trips.  I like THIS hydration pack one that will slip right into a backpack.  THIS collapsible water bottle is perfect for shorter hikes.  I love this one because its as light as a feather and will get lighter and lighter as you drink!  

Another awesome water tip is to get yourself a LifeStraw.  Having a LifeStraw means you can drink from any water source you find (within reason..no salt and no gunk).  If there's a freshwater stream or any sort of moving fresh water you can feel 100% safe drinking from it with the LifeStraw...I swear it will taste better than your water from home.  

Navigation
It's always a good idea to know where you are.  When you're in the middle of nowhere its very easy to lose your way so its important to have some sort of navigation system - and a back up incase your tech fails.  I'd love to have some sort of GPS/step watch like THIS Polar GPS Watch and always carry a map of the area. It's also good to put your map in a protective case to make sure it doesn't get water damage or other wear and tear.  

Sun Protection
Sunscreen is your best friend.  Imagine being outdoors baking in the sun ALL DAY LONG and not protecting your poor skin from the damages that could cause? It's important to wear sunscreen on a normal day - let alone a day that you won't be going inside at all.  Bring face and body sunscreen to apply numerous times throughout the day so you don't get burned! Also, always bring sunglasses and a breathable hat on your summer hikes - these will help protect yourself even more from that powerful summer sun.    

Nutrition
Even if your plan is to only go on a short day hike you always want to bring food to have on hand - whether it be freeze dried meals or snacks you always want to be prepared.  When spending time outdoors sometimes things happen that you hadn't planned for and in those moments you want to be as prepared as possible.  Having extra food will keep you energized and able to keep moving.  I'll be sure to come up with some of my favorite trail snacks and meals in a later post.

Emergency Supplies
Having an extensive first aid kit is extremely important when hiking into the wilderness/desert/mountains/etc with no cell service and no hospital nearby.  Yes, you can call search and rescue if it's serious, but if one of you sprains an ankle and you don't have anything to wrap it in you're going to be really disappointed in yourselves.  It's especially important to have the basics on hand such as bandaids, burn kits, bug ointments, and antiseptic - these will all be super helpful for some of the most common camping ailments such as cuts, burns, and bug bites.