Guest Blog by Ava Larsen
When I began hiking as a young girl, I didn’t have any particular gear. Items that most of us in the hiking community would consider essential these days. It didn’t matter what I was wearing, or if I had a backpack on, I just liked to explore. I grew up with the mountains to my left, and access to the sound to my right. My hiking journey started by literally leaving out the backdoor, and it’s my hope that more people can realize their time outside can too.
Sometimes, I find myself thinking like that younger version of myself. If an opportunity to go on an adventure comes up spontaneously, even if I don’t have the best equipment, I usually go anyways. If I need a pack, I grab whatever is close-by, and for years, I’ve relied on hand-me-downs and second-best options. My go-to was an old EagleCreek backpack that my dad let me borrow. Sometimes I used my brother’s old REI mountain-biking hydration pack.
A couple months ago, I finally bought my very first daypack. Yes, I am an avid hiker, belong to many local hiking groups, and go out as much as possible, yet I didn’t have a good, everyday pack.
I finally decided that since I had been going out more often, and most of my hikes were day trips, I deserved a medium sized pack that fit me just right and had all the features I could dream of. It felt great to upgrade, but occasionally, I’ll go out and if I don’t have that pack, it really doesn’t faze me. It doesn’t change how I hike, or that spirit, and those hikes are important too!
It doesn’t really matter what gear you go out there with. It matters that you go. I’m not a fan of letting things hold me back. I encourage anyone who wants to get some fresh air and time in nature to go hiking and not let anything stop you. Start with the shoes on your feet and the drawstring-bag you’ve had forever, add a couple snacks and water, and you’ll be set. You can always get more gear as you continue to define what hiking will be for you. You definitely don’t need to wait as long as I did for a day-pack though!
It’s more than ok to start by going for a short hike, one with minimal elevation, or to a local trail in your town instead of traveling to get to an idyllic one. Adjust your conditions for where to hike and what gear you need to have, and just go.
Above all, it’s always smart to be prepared according to terrain, and have the 10 essentials, when possible!
Photo is me hiking with my newer pack at Deception Pass.