Prepping doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Part of preparing to be self-sufficient is learning to enjoy the things you may be forced to do at some point. This means shooting, fishing, hunting, and hiking. While most people focus on the shooting and fishing aspects of this, hiking is an often-overlooked aspect of prepping. With transportation at a likely standstill, most travel will be done solely with your two feet.
This means you should probably get pretty used to carrying a pack and walking fairly long distances. By practicing hiking for fun, you will learn what you can and can’t do when you’re doing it to live.
We’ve compiled some hiking essentials below that also double as prepping gear to get you started on the trail and ready for whatever the world throws at you.
Whether you’re going on a day hike or a supply run to the next town over, hydration is vital for survival. Without proper hydration you will quickly start to wilt. This means lack of focus, situational awareness, agility, and overall cognitive ability. This, paired with the pain that comes from dehydration makes keeping water close at hand a real necessity.
One of the best ways to keep yourself hydrated on the trail is with a hydration pack. For hiking, these are typically built into backpacks, but can also be basic bladders that you can carry in any bag. Pair this with a water filtration device and you’ve got nearly unlimited water with you always. Check out REI.com’s section on hydration systems for more.
First Aid Kit
It should go without saying that you need to have a first aid kit with you when hiking as well as in a survival situation. While a full first aid kit is ideal, your hiking pack and bug out bag both have limited space, so a well-planned kit that’s small and lightweight is your best bet.
This ultralight and watertight medical kit from Adventure Medical Kits is just about perfect for both emergencies and hiking trips. Designed to work for 1-2 people up to 4 days, this kit is meant for emergencies and won’t weigh you down.
We’ve covered the importance of a good multi-tool before, but this jack of all trades device is vital to both hiking and survival. While you may choose a lightweight version like the Skeletool pictured above for your every day carry, your hiking and bug out bag version should be much more robust.
Choose a multi-tool for hiking without thinking about weight. Make your choice on durability and functionality instead. Remember, just like when hiking, there won’t be a sporting goods shop open when the SHTF to replace a broken tool or to get an upgraded version. Choose your hiking/survival multi-tool as if it was the last one you’ll ever buy, because it might end up being just that.
We’re not talking about the kind you storm the castle with alongside pitchforks here, but instead flashlights. A good everyday carry should include a strong yet lightweight flashlight, which you should have while hiking but in a hiking pack or a bug out bag you should have a backup and something a little more hands-free, too.
What you need for survival and hiking is a solid headlamp. By using a headlamp you leave your hands free to do whatever you need to take care of. This also means you can easily carry a firearm in the dark while still having a free hand. This light by Black Diamond is a super-bright LED model that has a red light mode as to not hurt your night vision while seeing in the dark.
Watches are important now, but when you’re in the middle of nowhere they are vital for survival. A good watch not only lets you tell the time, but can be used for measuring the time for water purification, time intervals of hiking and resting, and make sure you’re getting your water rations when necessary.
Time is an important thing to measure, and while hiking or simply surviving, it’s more important than ever. A good EDC watch makes a perfect companion for hiking, and should function well when in survival situations. You can go full-out with something like the Fenix GPS watch from Garmin, but these watches require recharging and don’t easily accept replacement batteries.
A better option is a simple yet sturdy model that is water and shock resistant, includes a basic compass, and is easy to read. A perfect example of a watch that has all this and more is the SGW100-1V from Casio. This watch has a temperature sensor as well as a directional compass built right in. For around $40, it’s possibly the best watch you can get for the money.