So, you’re thinking about going hiking (woohoo!), but you have no idea what you might need to survive your encounter with (gasp!) nature. Don’t you worry, the CityGirls are here with a list of our essential hiking gear. We know, you feel better about life already.

What do I need when I go hiking?

First and foremost, lots of water. Bring more than you think you need.

And what’s the best way to carry that water? A lightweight backpack such as our much-loved Camelbak backpacks.

A first aid kit. We have a pre-assembled hiker first aid kit from REI that we supercharged with some extra stuff. But if we had to pare it down to just the basics, here’s what first aid guru T-Bell would have:

  • band-aids – a variety of sizes
  • gauze
  • an elastic bandage roll
  • ibuprofen
  • tweezers
  • sterilizing wipes
  • gloves
  • duct tape
  • safety pins

Good hiking shoes. Please, please don’t go hiking in flip-flops or heels. Please? For us? You wouldn’t believe the number of people we pass on the trail wearing skimpy flip-flops. Seriously, how can that be at all comfortable?

A bandanna. Or maybe two. Except maybe duct tape, a bandanna is the most multipurpose piece of equipment you can take hiking, camping or backpacking. How is this square of cloth useful, you ask? Well. Let us count the ways.

  1. You can wear it on your head to keep your hair off your face.
  2. You can use it to wipe sweat off your face.
  3. You can dunk it in that pretty little stream and drape it around your neck to cool down in hot weather.
  4. You can spread it out on a handy log or rock as a miniature tablecloth or “crumb catcher” when you stop for lunch.
  5. When the plastic bit on your backpack strap is rubbing against the inside of your arm, you can wrap it around the strap to keep your arm happy and protected.
  6. You can tie it around your neck to keep it from getting sunburned.
  7. Have we convinced you yet?

If you’re fair-skinned like T-Bell, sunscreen is always a good idea.

Trail snacks. May not be necessary on shorter hikes, but really, when is necessity the driving force behind snacking?

A map. We were talking to a hiking friend yesterday who hikes Mt. Tam regularly, and she told us that she stops to give directions to lost hikers every time she’s out hiking. Sometimes more than once on a hike.

Okay, you’re ready to go hiking now. Have fun. Be safe. Drink lots of water. We’re just so proud of you, going hiking all on your own like a big boy! Or girl. Or kitty. (We don’t like to discriminate ’round here.)