6 Things You Didn't Know You Wanted for Hiking

Hiking is the perfect way to rejuvenate after a long week of work or reconnect with yourself and nature on a Sunday afternoon. With your hiking boots on and lunch packed, you’re ready to go—right? Technically, yes (as long as you also have sun protection, layers in case it gets cold and a map of the trail), but there are a variety of other items to toss into your backpack that you didn’t know you’d want.

Here are six things to consider bringing on your next hike to help you connect and get more from your trek.

1. A Fitness Tracker

If you’re focused on fitness for your upcoming hike, a fitness tracker, often referred to as a wearable, will help you stay motivated along the way. With it on your wrist, you can track heart rate, to make sure you’re in the optimal zone for fitness, along with miles hiked or jogged.

This accessory is perfect for longer hikes as well, when you plan to stop at a certain mile point and head back the way you came. Set a mileage goal and keep track with the wearable so you don’t have to guess and then undershoot the distance, stopping yourself from going as far as you wanted or could go.

If you’re going on a backpacking trip, some trackers can also track altitude, ensuring that you hike at a safe pace.

Get it: Discover what wearable is best for you with this quick breakdown.

2. Wireless Headphones

The sounds of nature are beautiful, and if you live in a city, they might be just what you need to re-connect. However, if you’re hiking on a popular trail, and are surrounded by large groups of talking people, wireless headphones are necessary. Without the usual cord, you have more flexibility to jump over rocks and climb trees with your phone tucked safely into your backpack.

Get it: Check out this wireless headphone buyer’s guide to find a pair in your price range.

3. Phone Camera Accessories

There are so many beautiful scenes, interesting plants and cute critters that you want to capture on camera during your hike. Make sure you can capture every piece of your journey exactly as you want with the right camera accessories. A few stand-out options include a small, flexible “tri-pod” (for those top-of-the-mountain selfies), clip-on fish eye lens and chest mount.

Get it: Digital Trends created this great list of strange but awesome accessories for your camera.

4. A Journal

Toss a journal into your hiking pack to make your hike more reflective. Stop at various spots along the trail to sit at a lookout or on a comfortable rock and write down your thoughts. What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What do you see, hear and smell? The connection with nature will feel deeper when you’re trying to describe everything around you, which forces you to notice details you might otherwise overlook.

Get it: You can use any old journal lying around the house, buy a water-repelling, hiking-specific journal , or even customize one on Etsy.

5. A Guide App

Make your hike more interesting with a guide app that will help you spot animals, birds, plants and trees as you make your way to the final lookout. Not only will this make the hike more fun, but you’ll also learn more about the geography and natural species of your region. Compete with your hiking partner to see who can identify the most things before getting to the top.

Get it: Use this list of apps, published in February of 2016, to compare and contrast your many options.

6. A Meditation App

Similar to your journal, a meditation app may help you better connect with the nature surrounding you. If you have a hard time clearing your mind without guidance, an app can prompt you to quiet your mind, look around, and tune into your senses. The best part: you’ll feel more relaxed for the rest of the day.

Get it: Check out Healthline’s top meditation apps of 2016, which includes some of my favorites.

BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time blogger. She is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist, and the owner of her own personal training business, Honest Body Fitness. She grew up hiking in the mountains of New England and now spends her weekends trekking around the Southwest. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for health articles, new workouts and more.