These Are the Most-Important Items to Bring on a Hike, According to Experts

Photo: Hanna Yamamoto

Because I'm a New Yorker, I like to make jokes when my friends suggest that we do rustic activities. "Want to go hiking this weekend?" one asks me. "No way! I hike every morning to the subway!" I'm kind of kidding, but also, until I was 3,000 feet in the air on the side of the San Jacinto Mountain at the Well+Good Retreat in Palm Springs, hiking just sort of felt like glorified walking to me.

But as I took in the sweeping landscapes, wide-open sky, and of course, the elements—a 79-degree day in the desert is hot, just FYI—I instantly wished I'd better prepared. I'm a beauty editor with a severe vitamin D deficiency, and I want to keep it that way (popping bottles of vitamin D supplements 'til the day I die), but I quickly learned there's so much more to embracing the great outdoors than slathering on sunscreen.

I quickly learned there’s so much more to embracing the great outdoors than slathering on sunscreen.

Your safety is of the utmost importance, for starters. So you want to be prepared for whatever is at hand. Much of that is determined by location, location, location. Because if you're trekking through the desert, what you'll need to be wearing is drastically different than if you're making your way across a shaded, wooded terrain.

That said, there are a few key things that stay the same. "While hiking, always take more than enough water, wear proper hiking shoes and apparel, take along some snacks, and always tell someone where you're going. Always stay on the trail, you can’t get lost while on the trail," says Gary Burzell of Hiking in Palm Springs. (He's right: I filled up my liter bkr and wished I'd had more on hand).

Often, pros also suggest dressing in layers, which makes it easy to take on and off what you need whenever you encounter new elements. Other basic advice? Never go it alone, and if you do, make sure that your buddy knows where you are an when you should be back. Oh, and always take a map, a compass, and tools with you. As for the the other essentials, I've got you covered. When it comes to the items that you should have on hand during a day hike? Consider this your shopping survival guide.

Next time someone tells you to take a hike, consider it. After all, women are hitting the trails like never before right now. Just make sure you've got proper boots when you do—these are the ones Wild author Cheryl Strayed swears by

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