A nature walk checklist can help you prepare for an upcoming trip to make your next experience with nature rewarding and enlightening.
Hiking in the wild presents its own set of challenges. With preparation and foresight, you can take steps to avoid getting into trouble on the trail. Some of these are essential for longer journeys but can be helpful at other times, so I have included them in the checklist.
Appropriate footwear that gives sturdy support to your feet is required when walking in the countryside. The wrong shoes can ruin your trip, even if you're an experienced hiker. When walking on a rocky trail, good boots are a must.
Waterproof shoes or boots that come above the ankle are advisable in wet conditions.
Don't neglect your socks! A good pair of cushioned medium-weight socks prevent blisters and discomfort and can contribute to keeping your feet dry.
With proper ventilation and moisture-wicking fabric, a good rain jacket can keep you dry and warm in rainy conditions. A waterproof jacket with features like an adjustable hood for rain protection and extra pockets for essentials is a must for a mountain hiker.
If your aim is to photograph wildlife wear something neutral in colour, such as brown or green. You could even opt for a camouflage jacket.
However, if you will be alone in wild terrain a brightly coloured outer layer will make you more visible should you need rescuing for any reason.
Good trekking poles help support your upper body and maintain balance when traversing uneven ground, crossing streams, or walking up or downhill.
A monopod can double as a walking stick if necessary.
A backpack is essential for any hiker. It can carry water, food, and other essentials. Choose one with ergonomic straps and hip belts for comfortable carrying. Separate pockets are handy to store small items and keep wet things away from dry ones. A rain cover is also helpful to keep your belongings dry.
Between adventures you can keep a printed copy of this nature walk checklist in your backpack.
If you have photographic gear to transport, a padded camera backpack is required to keep it safe.
Repositionable dividers allow you to keep lenses of different shapes and sizes safely in place. Meanwhile, zippered pockets provide easy access to spare camera cards, batteries, and other accessories.
Some bags have separate compartments to pack your camera and lenses in one and clothes or snacks in another.
Straps on the outside allow you to attach a travel tripod.
A map and compass are essential tools to have with you when hiking. Keeping paper maps in a plastic bag, or laminating them before your journey, can ensure they don't disintegrate if it rains.
A GPS device can also be useful when walking on unfamiliar terrains, but keep in mind that batteries can die in the middle of your trek.
Keep your cellphone charged and carry it with you for emergency calls or navigation purposes. You can keep a link to the nature walk checklist on your home screen so it's easy to view before you leave home.
Your safety should be a priority at all times. A headlamp or flashlight is an essential piece of equipment you need when outdoors in the dark. Wearing outer garments that include a reflective band can also help you in emergencies when visibility is low.
Always be aware of your footing and avoid walking after sunset or before sunrise. In dark areas, stick to marked trails and do not wander off alone.
Always pack a first aid kit for self-treatment in case of an injury or minor ailment. Have safety pins and bandages at hand to treat cuts, grazes, and blisters.
If you need regular medication, ensure you pack enough for the time you expect to be away from home, with extra just in case things don't go to plan.
You might like to add insect repellant to your nature walk checklist (depending on the season) and something to scare off larger beasties if they are likely to be in the vicinity.
Even if you are not planning a long walk, taking some form os sustenance with you is always a good idea. This is important if you are diabetic or have food allergies or intolerances which could make purchasing safe products difficult out in the countryside.
Also carrying a reusable bottle of water is advisable, especially in warm weather. Sipping water regularly can also prevent a parched throat leading to coughing that could disturb any wildlife you were hoping to spot.
It's always safe to carry a whistle when hiking in the wild. You can then signal for help from anywhere on the trail or from high locations nearby. Repeat a sequence of three long blasts, followed by three short, to send an SOS signal.
A pocket knife is a must in your hiking kit. You can use it for cutting fruits, opening packets, or self-defense in an emergency.
Always inform family or friends about your plans and the route you plan to cover. Let a friend know where you are going, what time you set off, and what time you expect to return, even if you are traveling with a group.
In case of an accident where you cannot speak to your rescuer, it's advisable to carry some form of ID and the details of someone to contact on your behalf.
Having a copy of your itinerary with you is also sensible. If you are running late for your overnight lodgings, you will then be able to let them know that you are on your way.
Never throw away glass bottles or cans in the wild. Carry them home for proper disposal later. Dispose of rubbish in a bin wherever possible, or use waste bags to keep it together. Do not tie these to trees as birds or animals may use them to make nests, which could cause them harm or injury.
Avoid picking flowers or foliage from the wild as this could disturb the balance of nature in the area and can lead to species becoming endangered or even extinct over time
Respect wildlife and leave its habitat undisturbed, no matter how close you want to get to it. Do not climb trees near nests or burrows as you might disturb the nesting process or attract the attention of predators.
Animals have a natural instinct to protect their young, so do not approach them too closely as they can become aggressive and attack you. The biggest bird we have to watch out for here in the UK is the mute swan, which will even attack it's own kind!
Do not feed the wildlife or leave food out to attract them.
If I have missed something that you feel is either essential or helpful, please use the form below to let me know what it is and why it is useful.
Feel free to add your own story of an event where you needed an item while you were out walking or hiking.