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‘I’m a Professional Trail Steward, and These Are the Hiking Essentials I Always Pack’

Outdoorsy types look forward to the summertime for the warm weather, backyard barbecues, and sunny skies just like the rest, but the main event for the mountain lovers among us? The official kickoff of hiking season. While it can be tempting to wake up and hit the trails, take a beat before you do and be sure to add some of these best hiking essentials to your pack because the right technical apparel and gear can make or break your trek.

Caitlin Kelly, a trail caretaker and ski patroller in Adirondack Park in upstate New York, is more or less a professional hiker. Every Friday, she packs into the High Peaks wilderness to her trail outpost where she spends three to four days out of service and away from civilization. From general trail maintenance and conservation, to search-and-rescue, her life revolves around outdoor life in the park. "I mostly educate the public on the rules and regulations of the park, like proper food storage, no campfires, things like that" Kelly says. "I try to explain what the rules are and how they're protecting the land."

Needless to say, Kelly knows a thing or two about preparing for a hike. Whether it's a week-long excursion into the backcountry or just a quick hike to catch a sunset. And she's sharing some general hiking tips and gear suggestions to keep you safe and happy on your adventures. "The '10 essentials' are used in parks nationwide and are basically just a list of gear everyone should have on hand when they go for a hike," she says. "And before you go anywhere, do your due diligence and get to know the rules and regulations. Make sure you're as self-sufficient as possible."

Ready to hit the trails? Kelly offers her advice on what to wear in the wild, as well as those 10 essentials for ensuring a safe, happy hike. Read it here.

LAST UPDATED

October 20, 2023

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