Summer is the heart of hiking season, luring hikers outdoors for favorable weather, fresh air, wildflowers, and more. Millions will hit the trails this year for day hikes, overnights, and soul-searching through hikes. Before setting out, though, they will all need to choose their gear carefully.
Getting home safely at the end of the day should be a primary concern. In order to ensure a good trip, experienced hikers know there are a few things they need to bring with them, like rain gear or a simple first aid kit.
Possibly the best prevention for a disastrous hike is knowing where you are at all times, as well as how to navigate in a time of crisis. For this, a physical map and compass are timeless and indispensable. Smartphones are capable of sophisticated navigation, but they are vulnerable to battery loss and water damage. Simple compasses with see-through baseplates and orienting lines, like those made by Silva, fit easily in any pack.
Like a map and compass, Smith’s Tinder Maker with Fire Starter is a small item that is easy to bring along for “just in case” scenarios. It is a clever little device that helps build a fire in a pinch. The removable cover is a stainless steel grate used for making wood shavings, which are collected in the main compartment. The fire starter and striker generate copious sparks. Even if they get wet, the starter and striker can be dried and used in mere seconds—a clear advantage over matches.
Getting a fire going in rainy conditions can be challenging, but not impossible, with a trick or two up your sleeve. Steel wool is a highly flammable material that catches fire quickly when it catches sparks. It can make all the difference on soggy days. When not in use, the Tinder Maker’s main compartment will hold enough steel wool to start multiple fires.
In addition to anticipating emergencies, hikers—and especially backpackers—also know that to go the distance, they need to minimize the weight they carry on their backs. For that reason, they seek out the smallest, lightest pieces of equipment. Weight savings can also be achieved through items that serve more than one purpose.
One such item is the ubiquitous multitool. Owing to its small size and versatility, Smith’s Edgesport Multi-Tool is perfect for taking on trail. It features a stainless steel blade for common jobs like cutting paracord, pliers, and a screwdriver for unexpected gear repairs. There is also a sharp saw blade for buzzing through branches if needed. An integrated carabiner allows it to be clipped on a belt loop or within reach on the outside of a pack. All this fits into a folding construction of less than 3” in length.
Another item that is both compact and versatile is an ordinary space blanket. They are very inexpensive and only take up as much room as a deck of cards. One can be used in many ways, including making an emergency shelter, as improvised rainwear, or to conserve heat in someone experiencing hypothermia.
Sometimes our hikes are designed to take us to good fishing spots. Whether heading down into the valley for an afternoon on a trout stream or up into the mountains for a few days on an alpine lake, swapping out some gear items will lighten the load and make the trip less arduous.
One place weight savings can be found is by replacing ordinary fishing pliers with forceps. They bring much the same utility but at a fraction of the weight. Smith’s stainless steel 5.5” forceps are a great pick. Serrated jaws and locking grip hold hooks tight for removal from tricky places. A built-in line cutter eliminates the need to haul along scissors or other clippers. The Regal River 6.5” forceps offer similar features and an even longer reach.
Another versatile item that takes up minimal space is the Smith’s Diamond Retractable Sharpener. The same size and shape as a ballpoint pen, this device is made to sharpen almost anything. Its diamond-coated inner rod puts the edge back on any blade, including fillet knives, pocket knives, and multi-tool blades. The reverse side features a groove just for sharpening hooks.
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ABOUT SMITH’S SPORTING GROUP
Smith’s Sporting Group is a multifaceted, diversified company that supports a lifetime of outdoor pursuits and includes Smith’s Consumer Products and Tanners Team Sports. Tracing its roots to 1886, Smith’s Sporting Group designs, manufactures, and distributes key products and accessories for anglers, hunters, campers, and hikers, as well as those that love baseball, softball, and pickleball.