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.)

Have we told you about our new Camelbak backpacks? In a word, they’re awesome. In the era BC (that’s Before Camelbaks), we faced a dilemma whenever we went for a hike. Do we carry a single backpack and trade it back and forth throughout the hike? Or do we each bring a backpack with maybe three things inside and two waterbottles in the side pockets?

On top of that, hiking makes us thirsty girls, and even with two waterbottles apiece, we sometimes worry about running out of water on our longer hikes.

Enter the Camelbak backpacks. Now, we know that Camelbaks are not a new thing. You’re probably sitting there reading this, thinking, “Yeah, I knew those CityGirls weren’t real hikers. All the real hikers carry Camelbaks.”

We’ve used Camelbaks and Platypuses before, particularly when backpacking, but we only had a small one, and we would still end up with the backpack dilemma. But our new Camelbaks came as part of lightweight backpacks just the right size for a day hike and with a 3 liter capacity. Now that’s a lot of water! Enough water that, even on our recent hike up Mt. Tam, we still had some left at the end of the trip. And somehow, the Camelbak backpacks make 3 liters of water feel only half as heavy as carrying two 1 liter bottles in a regular backpack. Genius.

We also like having dedicated hiking backpacks so that we don’t have to clean out all our school- and work-related stuff from our backpacks and replace it with hiking stuff every time we go for a hike. Now, we keep our hiking basics in our hiking backpacks so they’re always ready to go, and we never forget the first aid kit.

In case you’re curious, we both have the Camelbak Blowfish, 3-liter version. AM’s is black and T-Bell’s is red. Yep, we’re sickeningly cute and match-y when we go hiking.