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8 Not-So-Obvious Essentials for Day Hikes

No matter where your next travel nursing assignment takes you, if you crave adventure, you’re bound to go hiking or camping during your days off. When it comes to hiking, you want to ensure you have the proper clothing and equipment, whether you’re going for a long or short hike. We all know the importance of a well-fitting backpack and a good pair of boots for a comfortable hike. However, what about lip balm or dark chocolate? Read on for more information on not-so-obvious essentials we think you should consider packing for your next day hike!

SPF Lip Balm

If you are visiting towns of high altitude and dry air like Denver, CO, your lips and skin are more likely to become parched and chapped. We recommend looking for lip balm that contains sun protection. Not only will SPF lip balm keep your lips from being chapped, but it also offers protection from your lips being burned during your hikes. Most lip balm brands offer SPF balms. Some popular brands are Burts Bees, Sun Bum, or ChapStick.

Bug Spray

This may be a no brainer, but bug spray is important if hiking in damp areas such as nearby lakes or rivers. It is also necessary to have bug spray to help avoid ticks. Most bug sprays contain Deet, which is mostly the reason why those sprays have a potent stench. If you are looking for an organic bug repellent spray with a more pleasant smell, we recommend checking out Badger Anti-Bug Spray! This bug spray is great for repelling mosquitos and can help with ticks as well. Just remember to reapply every few hours for maximum protection.

Extra Water Bottles

Most backpacks with reservoirs typically hold 1.5-3 Liters of water. For most, this is plenty for easy day hikes. However, overtime, that water does not stay ice cold. We recommend bringing an extra water bottle or two filled with either water or sports drink brands like Gatorade or Powerade. Insulated, stainless steel bottles such as Hydro Flask or Yeti are great for keeping your drinks cool. For longer hikes, those cool drinks can be refreshing and boost energy.

Dark Chocolate

Yes, you have read that right! Dark chocolate can be an essential necessity for dealing with altitude sickness. It is typically recommended to wait at least 24 hours in your new city before hiking trails that have large elevation gain. Waiting at least 24 hours can help your body adjust to the higher elevation, which will lessen the effects of altitude sickness. Symptoms of altitude sickness include headache, dizziness, tiredness, shortness of breath, or feeling sick. Dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, which has been shown to help increase nitric oxide levels in the blood. These increased levels can help improve the delivery of oxygen to muscle, especially in hypoxic conditions, such as altitude. Besides, what a better way to reward yourself during an epic hike than with chocolate?

Insulated Lunch Box

For longer hikes, you may want to spend some time sitting and enjoying the view at your destination while eating lunch. An insulated lunch box is perfect for keeping sandwiches or additional water bottles cool if you do not have a stainless steel tumbler. If you are someone who prefers your chocolate colder, toss those in your lunch box too for a treat or if you begin feeling altitude sickness. There are many brands that offer insulated lunch boxes. Both Yeti and Hydro offer them in multiple sizes depending on how much you want to pack.

Polarized Sunglasses

We all have sunglasses for driving and basic outdoor activities, however, for those outdoorsy and adventurous individuals, we recommend investing in a pair of polarized sunglasses (also known as sport sunglasses). This type of sunglasses can help you have a clearer view, especially in bright light. They also increase contrast with minimal color distortion, and can help reduce glare, reflection, and eyestrain. Many outdoor shops can assist in picking out the shape and size that will fit your face perfectly. When looking for a pair of polarized sunglasses, make sure to find a brand that offers scratch-proof lenses. These lenses will be beneficial for hiking rocky surfaces in case you drop them or must go through tight spaces.

First Aid Kit/Moleskin

This may be obvious, but many go on hikes not prepared for possible injuries. Hikes with rocky or uneven trails can lead to falls. You may end up with a cut on your hand by grabbing onto a tree or rock to help you climb those steep steps throughout the trail. Make sure to pack a small first aid kit to be prepared.

Another item to include in your first aid kit is moleskin for blisters. Blisters can form by not breaking in your new hiking boots or using ill-fitting boots. When shopping for hiking boots, make sure your boots have a tight fit with whatever socks you plan on using with them. If your feet happen to shift while walking downhill, you more than likely will end up with blisters. Moleskin can help reduce blister pain due to its thickness and prevents your socks from rubbing against it. For added protection, wrap a band aid around the moleskin. If you happen to know which parts of your feet typically get blisters, you can wrap them before your hike to help prevent getting blisters.

Extra Socks or Clothing

Even though you may never use your additional pair, it is a good idea to pack an additional pair of socks. Most hiking boots are waterproof; however, they do not prevent water from seeping through the top of your boot if you happen to submerge your foot while hiking. Hiking with wet feet can cause blisters over time. Avoid blisters by packing an additional pair of socks and keeping your feet dry. It is also important to note to bring extra clothing. If hiking in the mountains, the weather can be unpredictable. One moment can be sunny, the next you are stuck in a thunderstorm. Make sure to pack necessary clothing like a rain jacket or additional layers if hiking high-elevation trails.

While these essentials cover the basics, always assess your specific hiking needs and terrain requirements to tailor your gear accordingly. Whether it’s a leisurely stroll through scenic trails or a challenging mountain ascent, being well-prepared ensures a safe, enjoyable, and memorable hiking experience.

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