If you live in Washington and haven't taken advantage of the nice weather and beautiful hiking options, then you are truly missing out on one of the best summer activities. Hiking is fun, but it is vital to be smart about what you bring.
1. Pack multiple water bottles.
Trust me, one water bottle will not be enough. It is important to be hydrated while hiking, and it is good to have a backup, and maybe even a backup for your backup. In addition to your cold water, a thermos with hot water is also nice to have on hand. Throw some tea bags in your bag or some instant coffee and you can have a warm drink at your viewpoint.
2. A portable charger.
Keeping your phone charged is necessary in cases of emergency. You will probably also use your phone a lot to take pictures and check maps. A charging block takes up little space and most of them can give phones a full charge.
3. A hammock.
Although this may not be necessary, bringing a hammock on a hike is a fun way to relax in nature, under a canopy of trees, or even at a viewpoint with open space. Chilling in a hammock can be a nice addition to any hike. You can pack a book to read or a music speaker to use. Hammocks also make nice places to have lunch, instead of sitting on the ground of tree stumps.
4. Wear a watch.
It is important to keep track of time while you hike. You should keep track of how far you've gone, how long it's taken, and how much daylight you have. This is especially important while on less crowded trails or solo hiking excursions, as time may escape you and there may not be many people to ask.
5. Sunscreen and bug spray.
You should always remember to protect your skin while you are hiking. This means wearing the right, breathable clothing, using a good sunscreen, and an environmentally friendly bug spray. Sun rays can still shine through trees and even cloudy days, and mosquitos can be annoyances on trails.
6. A variety of snacks.
This is probably an obvious one, but it is a good idea to bring food that will give you energy. Things like sandwiches, trail mix, and protein bars are good. Just like packing extra bottles of water, it never hurts to bring more snacks than you think you'll need.
7. First-aid and safety.
It's good to always pack first-aid equipment even if you don't think you will need it. Anything could happen while hiking and being prepared is smart no matter what. Packing pepper spray, a whistle, or some other communication device is also a good thing to do.
8. A good source of navigation.
Whether it is a physical map, trail marks, or an app on your phone, always follow some sort of trail navigation. You probably shouldn't begin a hike without knowing how many miles it is roundtrip. Alltrails is a trusty source of navigation that helps you track how long and far you have been hiking, and also catalogs a variety of hikes around you. You should also always take a photo of any maps you see at the trailhead, just in case.
Knowing what you need and being prepared for hiking will ensure a fun and safe trip up any mountain trail. Make a checklist so you don't forget anything, then grab your daypack, a friend, and get outside!