Which is the best crossbow? I compiled a top list with some reviews to help you out

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How do you choose between crossbows?

There are many different varieties, makes and models of crossbows to choose from. With the increased popularity of the crossbow, people are clamoring to get their hands on one and manufacturers are working overtime to keep up with the huge demand. So how do you choose the one that right for you? There are several factors to consider. Once you identify your needs, you can choose the crossbow that works best for you.

Price point is probably the most important factor. How much you are willing to spend will determine what kind of crossbow you should purchase. If you have limited funds available, top of line models will be too expensive, sometimes costing upwards of several thousand dollars. Don’t worry! Even if you are on a budget most manufacturers make quality, all be it, budget versions of their popular models. There is sure to be something to fit your needs, no matter the budget. The choices in our  reviews are largely middle priced so you can choose the best crossbow for the money.

The next thing to consider is the intended purpose of the crossbow. Will you be using it for hunting, sport shooting or shooting competitions? The function of the weapon should be taken into consideration when purchasing a crossbow.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly to some, is the brand factor. Are you loyal to a specific brand or model? Just like cars or shoes, there will be people who stick to what they know. If this is your first time purchasing a crossbow, you may want to try out a few different brands before settling on one. Crossbows are as varied as their owners and choosing the right one is big decision, take your time to find the one that best fits your needs.

Quick Comparison Table of Top Crossbows

Crossbow Image
Model Name
Price $ = ~100
Rating
Common Remarks
Excalibur Axiom SMF Crossbow Kit $$$$$ 4.9/5.0 So extremely accurate and easy to shoot my 5 year old daughter could hit the bullseye every time!
Barnett Ghost 350 CRT Crossbow Package $$$$$ 4.6/5.0 Super fast and very accurate. I feel like I can go hunting and actually return with venison
Wicked Ridge Warrior HL Premium Crossbow Package $$$$ 4.9/5.0 East to shoot, set up and assembly is simple. Once zeroed at close to 100 yards
Barnett Zombie 350 CRT Crossbow, Black $$$$ 4.7/5.0 I recommend buying this with the Barnett Vengeance Crank Cocking Device as it makes pulling the string much easier
Excalibur Ibex SMF Crossbow Kit with SMF Scope, Realtree AP $$$$$$ 4.8/5.0 Great scope, sighted in to 50 yards within 6 shots. First bow I’ve tried and I love it!

Shorter Reviews Of The Best Crossbows

Excalibur Axiom SMF Crossbow Kit

This crossbow can easily be used by people who are just starting to use crossbows and also experienced users. It can be used for simple target practice as well as game hunting. This crossbow is very easy to assemble and you can have it ready to use in a matter of minutes. The crossbow’s rope has a 175-pound draw weight which is a lot but the bow comes with a cocking device.

The Axiom SMF has a 14.5-inch power stroke and is therefore easy to cock and shoot. Even with such as short power stroke, this crossbow is quite powerful. It can launch an arrow at 305 feet per second.

The crossbow is very capable of game hunting because it is very accurate and powerful. It also weighs six pounds only so you can easily carry it around without getting tired. The crossbow can work with other types of arrows apart from the provided 20” FireBolt arrows.

 

Barnett Ghost 350 CRT Crossbow Package (Quiver, 3 – 20-Inch Arrows and Illuminated 3x32mm Scope)

State laws are now becoming more accommodating about crossbows. Some people are ditching their rifles in favor of crossbows especially for hunting purposes. The current breed of crossbows like the Barnett Ghost 350 CRT is perfectly capable of hunting any type of game you have in mind.

The Ghost 350 weighs 7.5 pounds and uses Carbon Riser Technology for added accuracy and balance. This crossbow has a draw weight of 175 pounds and produces 116 foot-pounds of kinetic energy. It fires arrows at 350 feet per second which makes it a deadly arrow for any prey that might find itself in your crosshairs.

This arrow is very easy to use thanks to the cocking device that is provided. Using this device the draw weight is only 87.5 pounds. The time it takes to reload the crossbow is therefore reduced significantly.

 

Wicked Ridge Warrior HL Premium Crossbow Package, 175-Pound

Despite the mention of premium in the name, this crossbow is a reasonably priced bow by Wicked Ridge. The premium version of this crossbow has multi-line scope that has magnification of up to x3. It comes with three standard Wicked Ridge aluminum arrows, a rope cocker, Wicked Ridge quiver, and an embroidered sling.

The bow is 38 inches long and weighs 7 pounds. The standard 20” arrows can be interchanges with other types of arrows without interfering with the bow’s performance. The draw weight of this crossbow is 175 pounds and it shoots arrows at 300 feet per second with 84 foot-pounds of energy.

This bow comes with a sighted scope to make it easier to prepare for use without wasting much time. The multi-line scope is much more accurate than single line or red dot scopes. This scope plays a large part in the Warrior HL premium’s accuracy.

 

Barnett Zombie 350 CRT Crossbow Black

This crossbow from Barnett comes with a rope cocking aid, a quiver, three 20” arrows and an illuminated scope. This crossbow uses Carbon Riser Technology to make it more balanced and improve its accuracy. It can shoot arrows at 350 feet per second which makes it an ideal crossbow for hunting or target practice.

The crossbow’s adjustable focus scope greatly improves its accuracy. This scope can be illuminated and has five levels of brightness and two color tones: green and red. When you are hunting in low-light conditions, this scope gives you the best chance you can have at hitting the target.

The crossbow can be easily fitted with a crank device. Although there is a provided cocking aid, a crank device is easier to use albeit slower. The crossbow also has tactical rails at the top and bottom of the frame to add things like flashlight/laser combos or better telescopes.

 

Excalibur Ibex SMF Crossbow Kit with SMF Scope, Realtree AP

This crossbow is very easy to use and it is very easy to fall in love with. The company that made it is very reputable and you can bet that the Ibex SMF lives up to that reputation. This crossbow is extremely accurate and you can rarely be disappointed by its performance.

When you assemble the crossbow, you can use it right out of the box. The telescope comes already sighted and it can help people with little or no experience with crossbows shoot very tight groups from long range. This crossbow is so accurate that you risk splitting your arrows if you shoot from the same position several times.

The Ibex SMF is very powerful and can be used for casual target practice or hunting. It is very silent to use and feels very familiar especially if you have used a rifle to shoot before. At just 5.9 lbs. you can carry this bad boy around all day long.

Which Crossbow Should You Purchase?

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Since getting a crossbow requires you to consider multiple variables, taking a final purchase decision can be quite demanding. An interesting aspect is that this weapon has evolved incredibly over the years, offering now a wide range of technological improvements. To help you get the right bow model, the current review explains everything you need to know in the simplest possible terms.

Before buying a bow, it’s advisable to check three essential points that focus on what to expect from this weapon, the differences between its two basic models and the latest technological advancements.

Things To Consider When Buying A Crossbow

Expectations: Your expectations pretty much depend on the type of user you’ll be. For instance, if you intend to become a target shooter, specific aspects, such as weight, model and design, are less important than accuracy. If you’re going to use a crossbow for hunting, you might want to get a good quality weapon. Finally, you should get a lightweight and compact bow if you wish to take it along with you every time you’ll be trekking.

Models: Today you can find two basic bow models, known as re-curve and compound. While the former delivers the most simplistic bow design, commonly referred to as traditional bow, the latter proposes a new design, delivering a much lighter and smaller weapon compared to the first option. Additionally, you should know that a compound bow is expected to deliver more velocity than a re-curve model.

Advancements: The latest innovations regarding specific materials have turned this tool into a compact, light and strong weapon. Some of these innovations include cocking aids that are usually incorporated into the stock; triggers that are more reflective compared to those of previous models, offering extra strength, less pull and less weight; risers that are made of lightweight metals to increase efficiency; and safety mechanisms that are safer than ever before.

Although these points can help you understand specific differences between certain bow models and their associated improvements, you need to take into account several more aspects if you want to get the best out of you choice.

Choosing The Right Crossbow

You don’t have to search for the top brands in order to find the best crossbow. To get the best weapon, the only thing you have to do is to look for some practical tips that can help you find an appropriate bow. Some of the best tips are:

Don’t Get Cheap: Although you can find some splendid economic choices, most crossbows deliver what you pay for. Thus, if you choose a low-priced model, you’ll most probably get a low quality weapon. On that note, you should be prepared to spend good money to get a high-quality weapon.

Avoid Loud Bows: Although it seems hard to believe, some bows are really loud when fired. If this is acceptable for a target shooter, it can be a real disaster for a hunter. Since firing a bow in a shop to check whether it’s loud or quiet doesn’t represent a viable option, the reviews can help you find the model you need.

Opt for a model of Average Weight: Choosing a lightweight bow isn’t always a great idea. That’s because lightweight bows are quite difficult to keep steady when aiming. Furthermore, most lightweight bows are usually less durable than the models of average weight.

One more thing you should do to get a high quality bow is to avoid the models that come along with plastic parts. The best bows are the ones with metal parts simply because they can withstand the test of time.

The Best Crossbow: A Must Have Checklist When You Are Selecting One

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At one time or another, you might have read the tale of William Tell and how he defeated many foes because of his dexterous use of a crossbow. Since it was more of fantasy, many people might not be as enthusiastic about crossbows when they grow up. However, if you are into archery then you will definitely have to learn how to use a cross bow. Also a crossbow should be part of your regalia. Below is a must have checklist when you are shopping for the best crossbow.

Does Price Determine Which The Best Crossbow Is?

One thing you should realize when shopping for a crossbow is that you will come across many types and sizes. With all these choices out how can you come up with the right one? If you find in this dilemma here are some criteria you must factor in with the price. In these tough economic times the price of commodities has a significant impact on spending habits. The criteria you should use is

Performance:

There are many choices out as to the selection of your crossbow. When you are shopping for crossbow, you should not only look at the price alone, you should also look at the performance also. You should ask yourself; how well can it serve you? Reading reviews about the different types of crossbows will give you insight into how well they perform.

Durability:

How durable is the commodity? Is the price they are quoting it at equivalent to the quality? These two questions raise the issue about durability. It is important that you put into consideration how durable the material is in your search for a good crossbow. Usually, high quality materials are very durable. At the same time, this high quality comes at price which you must take into consideration always.

What about deals

Deals and bargains: Can’t leave without them: Look for deals if you can. In this day and age, you can be able to find deals even online. You should ensure that you do your due diligence and research thoroughly. If you look hard enough you should be able to find a very good deal.

What good is a bow without arrows? A crossbow must have equally arrows. These arrows must be sharpened and well maintained. Plus you should be able to find good deal on combos: that is a crossbow and a quiver of arrows. When you go shopping, buy them both. It defeats the purpose of archery if you have only one thing to work with.

You should always be on the lookout for deals on additional equipment. This includes targets and bowstrings. How can you really know the crossbow without trying it out? And how can you try it out without a target? An apple on the head like William Tell won’t do. Keep an eye out for new and enticing deals.

Operating at maximum efficiency

A crossbow cannot function properly if not tweaked from time to time. You should always assess the quality of your crossbow. Maybe your bow string might be worn out and needs to be replaced.
Any crossbow is useless if it is not properly maintained. Proper maintenance should start from the time you use to the time you store it.

Finally, if crossbow is operating at peak efficiency, you should ensure that you always use the right materials to polish it and what not. It ensures that the bow is not exposed to elements of corrosion and abrasion that might compromise on its performance.

In your search for the top crossbow, you should always factor in the above. You also have the lee way to build upon this knowledge as you grow in archery. You will find that as time goes on, you will be attuned to knowing which equipment is the genuine article and so on and so forth.

The Basic Riding Position

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One thing a lot of new riders disregard is getting a good fit on the bike. Getting a decent fit doesn’t have to be complicated – you can do it yourself at home. It won’t be the same as a professional bike fitting, but you should at least be aware of the proper riding position and strive to be close to it.

Here are some tips about the basic riding position to keep in mind.

Seat position

The most important and easiest adjustment you can make is to the seat height. You want the seat to be fairly high. When your foot is at the 6 o’clock position, your knee should be slightly bent.

An easy way to get close to this measurement is to sit on the seat and raise it high enough that your leg is straight if you place your heel on the pedal at the 6 o’clock position. This will then give you a slight bend in your knee when the ball of your foot is on the pedal.

Also, the seat should be level, or very close to it. The seat should not be tilted up or down.

Hands and handlebar

If you are on the correct size bike, the reach to the handlebars should be comfortable. You should be able to comfortably hold the handlebar with relaxed shoulders and slightly bent elbows.

For the best hand comfort, the majority of your body weight should be on the seat. If your handlebar is too low, you could be putting excess weight on your hands, leading to pain and discomfort.

Also, do not use a “white knuckle” death grip on the handlebar. That will decrease your control and lead to hand pain.

Back

Your back should be straight. You should not be hunched over in a ball when riding.

Head and eyes

Keep your head up, eyes looking ahead at all times.

Basic Bike Maintenance For All Bikers

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If you want your bicycle to last a long time and to ride smoothly, you need to perform some basic maintenance tasks. These tasks are fairly easy to do at home and require just a few basic tools. (You could take your bike to the bike shop all the time, but that gets expensive.)

Here are the basic bicycle maintenance procedures every rider should be able to do:

Keep Tires Inflated

Keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure will make your tires last longer, provide a more comfortable ride, and help reduce the risk of flat tires.

To inflate tires yourself, all you need is a bicycle tire pump. You can get a decent floor pump for about $25. (I suggest getting one from a bike shop, rather than a department store.)

Here’s a link to some tips about choosing the proper tire pressure.

Keep Brakes Clean

To keep your brakes working well (which is very important,) you should keep your rims and brake pads clean. A simple way to do this is to wipe down your rims and brake pads with rubbing alcohol.

If you have disc brakes, you can wipe them down with rubbing alcohol or a brake cleaner like Brakleen.

Keep Chain Clean and Lubed

About every 300 miles or 2-4 weeks (whichever comes first,) you should inspect your chain. If it looks very shiny or squeaks, it’s time to lube it up.

The basic process involves wiping off any old dirt and lube, dripping new lube on, then wiping off any excess lube.

 

Wash Your Bike

Eventually, your bike will get dusty, dirty, and covered in sweat. Then it could probably use a good washing.

All you need to do is give it a light rinse with water, wipe it down with some dish soap on a sponge, and give it a quick rinse.

If you perform this regular maintenance, your bike will last for years.

Proper Tire Inflation

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Many new riders forget about pumping up their tires. They simply ride their bike until the tires get really squishy. Only then do they bother to think about adding more air.

But checking your tire pressure each week is a great way to ensure a safe, comfortable ride and the longest life out of your tires.

But how do you pick the correct tire pressure?

Well, you do NOT want to just look at the sidewall and inflate your tires to the maximum inflation pressure. For most people, that pressure is too high and will lead to a stiff ride.

Instead, follow my guidelines:

On a road bike, you would want to use around 90-110psi.

Most road tires can be inflated to 120psi, but that’s usually not necessary. A pressure around 100psi usually gives a more comfortable ride.

On mountain bikes, 35-50psi.

A typical mountain bike tire is wide, which makes it a high volume tire. Since it will hold a large volume of air, you don’t need it to go to a high pressure like a road bike tire.

A good starting point is 45psi.

On mountain bikes with tubeless tires, 20-35psi.

Mountain bikes with tubeless tires can safely run low air pressures, possibly under 20psi. Generally I’d start out by trying 30psi in your tubeless tires.

Tire pressure adjustment tips.

I gave you general guidelines so far. You may need to tweak the suggested tire pressures to suit your body and riding conditions.

Here are the tips:

1. The heavier you are, the higher the pressure you should use. Let’s use a road bike as an example. A 120lb cyclist could ride on tires at 85-90psi and they would be plenty firm. However, a 200lb cyclist would want to run closer to 110-120psi to hold up to their body weight.

2. If you encounter wet roads, drop pressure by 5-10psi for increased traction.

3. If you are getting pinch flats often, those are usually due to running too low of a tire pressure. So try increasing your pressure by about 5psi.

4. Mountain bikers on rocky terrain may want to increase their tire pressure by 5psi to decrease the risk of pinch flats. It’s a trade off – the higher pressure will decrease traction a little bit, slowing you down, but it could save time by making it less likely you get a flat tire.

5. With tubeless tires on your mountain bike, you can drop your pressure down to around 20psi, but then see how squishy your tires feel. Gradually work your way up between 20 and 35 psi to find the sweet spot where the tires feel solid, yet still allow great traction.

Follow all those tips and put in some time on the bike to see what all the pressures feel like, and then you should have a good idea of correct tire inflation pressure.

How to ride safely in traffic

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If you are commuting to work, it’s likely that part of your route will put on on city streets, where you have to face downtown traffic. Here are some tips to have a safe commute.

Ride like you’re invisible.

Anticipate cars getting in your way like if you weren’t there, because chances are, even if drivers see you, they’ll still pull out in front of you or something.

And in many cases, drivers aren’t looking for cyclists, so they don’t even see them on the road.

Make yourself visible.

Bright colored clothing. Reflective strips. Lights and reflectors on your bike. Do whatever you can to make it easy for drivers to see you.

(If a motorist were to hit you, and you didn’t have reflectors on your bike, you could be held partially liable for the incident.)

Ride like a car.

Act like a car when in stop-and-go traffic and at lights. At slow speeds, you can go just as fast as the cars, so be in middle of lane. When stopped, stay in middle of lane, or cars will squeeze by and force you to the curb. Likewise, don’t squeeze between lanes of traffic because you can fit through the small area. It’s illegal and dangerous.

Watch parked cars.

Don’t ride too close to parked cars. They can be just as dangerous as the moving cars! People might open door in front of you. So stay out in the lane. But still watch for people’s heads in the car as a warning sign that a door could potentially open.

Use hand signals.

Use hand signals. Left turn, right turn, and stopping. Helps drivers notice you (the motion catches their eye,) and possibly earns you some respect as a road user.

Top priority, though, is to keep your hands on the bar when necessary for control.

Wilderness camping 101

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There’s a big difference in going camping at a camping ground site and roughing it out in the wilderness. Hence, more and more camping enthusiasts are going extremes and making bolder moves. They’re heading out to various areas in the wild to make camping more fun and challenging. If you plan to learn how to camp out in the wilderness, then be sure to get yourself prepared. You are going to need basic and cheap camping stuff to help you survive. Also, a few extra items will also do to make sure you are ready to camp.

Here’s how to camp and the basic survival tips that you will need:

  • Prepare yourself emotionally, mentally and physically. Camping out in the wilderness means you’ll be far away from civilization and any kind of help. The nearest help you can get would be the ranger’s station. There’s the vast emptiness of the wilderness so make it a point to bring a complete first aid kit.
  • Never forget to bring extras. Bring extras of the snakebite kit, epi peris and bandages. It also wouldn’t harm if you bring more waterproof matches and extra batteries for your flashlight.
  • Bring your personal medications. Do not take for granted such medications because you might experience hyperventilation, allergy attacks or asthma. There might be a chance that you will have an extended stay for unforeseen reasons.
  • Pack for all kinds of weather. You will never know what weather you may be in. There will be scorching hot days then after that, you’d be caught in a few days of rain. The weather is indeed unpredictable so be prepared. Pack clothes for all seasons. Bring a jacket, pants, leg warmers, hat and even gumboots.
  • Check your camping equipment. Be sure to pull out your camping equipment a few weeks before the camping trip. Be sure to check your equipment if they’re still in good condition.
  • Buy new camping equipment if you have to. There is cheap camping equipment that is durable and long lasting. You don’t have to spend much. Just be a smart shopper.
  • Study the environment on where you’re going to camp. Read as much as possible about the terrain on where you plan to camp. Figure out the weather pattern the camp site has. It will help you identify what equipment to bring for your trip.
  • Don’t forget to bring appropriate food and drinks. It’s not wise to bring a bowl of pasta for camping. It will just spoil. What you should do is to bring foods that won’t spoil right away. Bring foods that you could nibble at any given time of the day. Also, bring water for hydration.
  • It’s never a bad thing to bring a GPS locator. Consider this tool as your emergency equipment locator. There are several GPS locators that you can find in a camping store.
  • Let people know where you are going. You don’t want your loved ones to worry about you. You should tell them about your camping trip and how long it would take. Otherwise, they might be filing a missing person report.

 

What to wear when hiking

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A Sturdy Pair of Backpacking Boots

Hiking boots have come a looooong way in the last twenty years, and engineers have studied the contours of the foot, the angle of the foot striking the ground, and hundreds of others factor to develop protective footwear that is lightweight, waterproof, and sturdy.

When we’re out and about in our daily lives, we don’t think much about our footwear, other than than “How does this look on me?” But when you’re out out trekking through nature, you’re going to need something that is specially made for hiking and/or backpacking.

Here’s why: even on more gentle hikes, you’re probably going to encounter various types of terrain. It might be dusty dirt; it might be puddles with slippery bottoms; it might be thick mud. I’m always surprised when I’m on more comfortable hikes and I come across something that I wouldn’t want to cross wearing sneakers.

Here’s the other “why,” and it’s just as important: if your footwear doesn’t fit right, you’re going to get blisters on your feet. If you’re two miles into a five mile hike and you’re getting blisters, the rest of your hike is going to be absolutely miserable (trust me!).

We’ll throw in a third “why” while we’re here: boots protect your sprained ankles. Most boots come up past the ankle and past the Achilles heel, to give you support as you’re striding along. That may feel strange at first, but the protection it offers you is priceless.

Quick note: If you’re going out hiking later today, and you don’t have boots, wear sneakers–but make sure they have good tread on them, and if you have high-tops, take those over low tops. Sandals are a bad choice; flip-flops are a very bad choice. Just keep in mind that once you do some serious hiking, you’re going to want hiking boots. It’s one of those what to wear hiking staples.

Socks Made from Wickable Material

You might think, “Socks—well, obviously.” Here’s the thing: your socks will make you or break you. Good socks make hiking fun and enjoyable and something you want to do again. Bad socks will give you blisters and wish you hadn’t gotten out of bed that morning.

The kind of socks that you’ll want for hiking have a wickable material. It’s actually a really cool idea: a wickable material is one that is designed to disperse moisture from one side of the fabric to the other side. Here’s why it’s important: when you are trekking through the wilderness, and your feet are sweating, they are more prone to blistering. Wickabe material takes the moisture from your feet and disperses it so that it doesn’t cause your feet to get pruny or blistered.

If you can handle synthetic materials, wickable material is the way to go. CoolMax is a type of breathable, synthetic fiber, and people love it. If you can’t do synthetic materials, Smartwool socks come highly praised. Try to avoid cotton, if you can. Cotton, as a material, soaks up moisture, meaning that your socks will get damp and heavy (this goes for other articles of clothing, as well).

I’ve been on shorter hikes and worn cotton socks, and I was fine. There have been other times when I’ve been on shorter hikes and worn cotton socks and my feet come back all gnarled up. If you have the opportunity before you go hiking, pick up a pair. You’ll be glad you did.

Here’s a tip: If you can, change your socks frequently. Hikers are usually a little more “earthy,” and probably won’t mind.

Pants with a Ton of Pockets

If you’re going on a casual hike in the spring, summer, or fall, jeans will do you fine. You might not be super-comfortable, and you’ll be in rough shape if you get wet or have to trek through some mud, but you’ll be ok. If you do have the time or the means to buy hiking pants, it’s a great idea (and we’ve included a list of hiking pants that are good bets).

This is a funny thing to write, but here goes: “Pants are important, and here’s why.” Hiking pants have a number of benefits, including:

  • Pants protect your from sun, dirt and grime, and most importantly, plants that can mess you up. Poison ivy is no fun; neither is running through a raspberry bush, which has long thorns that can dig into your skin. A good pair of hiking pants will protect you from sunburn, but also shield you from other entities that would harm your skin.
  • Pants provide storage that is quickly accessible. You’re out in nature, right? You don’t need your credit cards, or your wallet, or your lipstick… but you will need some other things that you won’t want to dig through your backpack for. For me, it’s maps of the trails I’m on, sunflower seeds (I go through a bag a day!), a compass, and a pocket knife. Hiking pants sometimes look like cargo pants, because they have a ton of pockets at the waist, in the front, and in the rear.
  • A lot of hiking pants are convertible. They function as full-length pants but have hidden zippers right about the knees that allow you to zip the lower portion of fabric off, turning them into shorts. That can be excellent when it’s the summer and you’re overheating, or it’s evening and you’re getting chilly.
  • Most hiking pant are waterproof and/or quick drying. That can be a huge benefit, especially if you get caught in the rain, or if you sweat a lot. Walking around in wet pants is miserable, and having pants that magically dry is wonderful.
  • They’re incredibly comfortable. I used to wear hiking pants only when I was hiking; now I wear them all the time. They feel great, and I can carry a ton of stuff around. My wife calls them my “purse pants,” because at any time I can have my wallet, a pack of gun, a bottle of water, you name it. I’m like MacGuyver.

A Long-Sleeved Shirt and an Undershirt

This one depends on the season you’re in (and we’ve included a more detailed checklist for each season below). If it’s the spring or fall, you’ll want to bring layers. Regardless of the temperature of the air, your experience of the temperature will change as you heat up and cool down. A t-shirt and a long-sleeve shirt is a good start for spring or fall, coupled with a waterproof fleece or jacket. In the summertime, a shirt plus suntan lotion will do you well, along with a hat. Keep in mind, though, that the temperature falls at night, and you’ll want to throw something on your torso to stay warm. In the winter—if you’re a beginning, it’s not really wise to be hiking in the winter (we get into that a little more further down the page). But if you do, layers are still the way to go, and an undershirt, long-sleeve shirt, fleece, AND coat should keep you warm. That sounds like a lot, but if you’re outside for more than an hour, you’ll be amazed at how cold you can feel, and remember, you can take off or add layers as your temperature changes.

A Waterproof Jacket or Fleece

When you’re thinking about what to wear hiking, a windbreaker or fleece is a necessary item, and comes in handy during all seasons. The best jackets are breathable, and waterproof is excellent. These kinds of jackets can get a little pricey, so you might want to make sure that hiking is your thing before you buy one specifically for treks out in the wild.

If you don’t have a jacket specifically made for hiking, a zipable jacket is a good alternative, because it will allow you to cool off quickly if you get overheated. And, if you’re going out without a hiking jacket and it might rain, it never hurts to bring a plastic poncho, or even a plastic garbage bag.

Vitally Important: A Hat

If you’re out in the summer, a hat can be a great addition, although it’s not necessary. Hats are mostly about blocking the sun from eyes and keeping you from getting sunburned. A good hat will also do wonders for keeping the sweat off your face. A baseball hat works well, but a floppy hat or a straw cowboy hat will also protect the back of your neck.

Hats in the fall, winter, and spring are a lot more important, because they maintain your body temperature. One of the warmest fabrics is wool, but many people (myself included) go crazy when they have wool against their skin. Very itchy. Synthetic fibers such as fleece are much gentler on the skin, but they don’t often protect you from a strong and cold wind. The best of both worlds is a hybrid that contains a wool shell and a fleece inner lining. Very comfortable, and very warm.

A Backpack with Many Compartments

This is perhaps the most important article of hiking equipment, even for beginners. When you’re starting out, the type of backpack you bring isn’t really that important; you’ll get a feel for what you need and what your particular tastes are as you go along. For now, what’s important is what you put in your backpack. Here’s a list of things you’ll want to bring or consider bringing.

  • A large bottle of water. No matter how casual your hike is—even if its just a mile or two–you should bring water. Sometimes hikes go longer than expected (everybody gets lost now and then), and if you find that you’re in the hot sun or the cold weather, you’ll need to keep hydrated. Bringing water is an absolute must.
  • Food. Hiking burns a lot of calories–especially hiking over uneven or hilly ground. Foods that are high in protein are an excellent pick-me-up after you’ve been trekking for a while, and beef jerky is a great snack. Trail mix that has fruits and nuts is also good, because it has the healthy fats and protein from the nuts and the carbs from the fruit. Even better, though, is to simply bring nuts and fresh fruit, as store-bought trail mix often has a ton of extra sugar and chemicals that can make you feel tired.
  • Sunscreen, bug spray, a change of socks, and a clean undershirt.
  • A basic first-aid pack and a flashlight, in case you get lost and the sun sets (it happens!).
  • If you’re super-careful, a rain slicker, if it might rain, a poncho–sometimes it rains out of nowhere.
  • Maps of the hike you’ll be taking.
  • Any medications / inhalers / etc that you need. That’s important–there are no pharmacies in the Great Outdoors!
  • Your cell phone, car keys, wallet, keys to your house/apartment, etc–your “when you return to civilization” stuff.

An Important Question for Planning Your Trip: What Season is It?

What you’ll need to go hiking depends heavily on what the season is (and, of course, where you live). If you live in an area that has four distinct seasons, here’s how it breaks down:

  • Spring. You’re probably excited for summer, and you’re hoping it’s going to be warm out. That means you’re probably going to dress a little lighter than you should. If it’s springtime, the name of the game is LAYERS (this is true for fall, also). The temperature of the air can change rapidly, and your internal temperature will rise and fall many times throughout the day. When you first start out, you’ll be chilly; after you climb a hill, you’ll be hot and sweaty. Being able to remove layers will help you adjust and keep your body temperature where you’re comfortable. Here’s a good checklist: hiking boots, wickable socks, convertable or full-length pants, short-sleeved shirt, long-sleeved shirt, fleece or jacket (optional), backpack, hat.
  • Summer. If you’re hiking during the day, you’re going to get hot, and you’re going to get sweaty–but that’s part of the fun. The most important thing is being able to protect yourself from sun, and to keep yourself from overheating. It’s best to dress light, but in a way that provides your skin with protection. Here’s the checklist: boots, wickable socks, convertible pants, a lightweight-but-breathable shirt (I prefer long-sleeve, but short sleeve is fine if you wear sunscreen), and a hat (either a baseball hat, or a wrap-around floppy hat). As during every season, bring a ton of water. If you’re going to be outside at night—maybe you’re going camping with friends–keep in mind that temperatures plummet at night, even in July and August. You might be ok in shorts, but you’ll also need a sweater and/or a fleece. A hat couldn’t hurt, either.
  • Fall. Just like in the spring, the most important idea to keep in mind is “layers.” The checklist is the same: hiking boots, wickable socks, convertible or full-length pants, short-sleeved shirt, long-sleeved shirt, fleece or jacket (optional), backpack, hat.
  • Winter. You’re new to hiking, and you’re going hiking in the winter? Don’t be crazy! Wait until the Spring! If you’re new to hiking and you’re going out during the winter, ONLY go with someone who really knows what they’re doing, and ask that person what you need. On every hike, there’s the chance you could get lost–and lost is a bad place to be during the wintertime! For our own winter checklist, we have boots, wickable socks, lined full-length pants, long underwear, regular undies, thermal undershirt, t-shirt, long-sleeve shirt, fleece, coat, hat, and gloves. Again, if you’re new, do NOT go hiking alone during the winter. Go with someone who knows what they’re doing–how to read maps, follow paths, etc.

And, that about does it for what you’ll need to wear for your first couple of hikes! I’m really glad you’ve decided to spend some time in the great outdoors–I find that it really recharges my batteries, and I come home refreshed and rejuvinated.

Before you go–and this is the overprotective dad in me–here are some tips for safe hiking:

If you’re new to hiking, go with a friend who knows what s/he is doing! It’ll make the experience much more enjoyable and much more safe.

Avoid poison ivy. We’ve included a picture of the plant for your reference. Not everybody is allergic to the oils of the poison ivy plant, but if you are, it can lead to a miserable couple of weeks.

Know when to leave. Make sure you’re heading back home by the time the sun starts to set, because the sunlight can disappear *quickly,* and there is no scarier feeling that stumbling through the dark and wondering if there are bears down the path.

When you’re done, do a “tick check.” Ticks live in wooded areas, and burrow into your skin or scalp. When you’re done hiking, have someone look you over to see if you have any bugs on you, and run your fingers through your hair and over each inch of your scalp to make sure that no ticks are on you.

Know your limits! A good starter hike is three or four miles. And if you’re in uneven terrain or climbing altitude, four miles can be a LOT. Take it slow and build your endurance.

Now, go have fun! And share the page with a friend!

10 things you should have with you for day hikes

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Here is a list of things you should have with you for day hikes.
This list does not cover everything that you may need. And is for day
hikers. Overnight hikes would require much more.

Note: I am not an expert. Only a hiking enthusiast. I
have no official training.

1. Backpack. Find a good comfortable backpack. Make sure it will be
comfortable to wear for several hours at a time. Buy one that is durable so
it will not fall apart after a few trips.

2. Water. Bring plenty of water. I always bring more than I need. I would
rather lug the extra weight than run out of water out on a hike. This is
especially important if you are not near water on your hike.

3. Food. You may want to bring something to eat on longer hikes. Not only
for comfort but to keep up your energy.

4. Wear appropriate clothes. I learned this the hard way on a hike in
Hawaii. I wore cheap sandals that broke and I ended up walking barefoot
for over an hour. Good hiking boots would be better. Not only to protect
you feet, but also for the tread. On steep trails you want good tread to grip
the ground better and keep you from sliding. If it is cold bring a jacket. Be
sure to consider how long you will be out. In the Gorge and in the
mountains it will get cold fast. If you are hiking in the winter, fall, or spring
you may want to bring clothes to change into even if it is warm when you
first set out.

5. A compass. This may not be so important for shorter day hikes on well
marked and maintained trails. But if you plan on going off the main paths
or several miles out you could forget which trail leads back.

6. A whistle. If you do get lost a whistle will travel further you yelling.

7. Pass. Many hikes in the area will require a pass of some kind to park at
the trail head. These can usually be purchased by the day or an annual
pass. A NW Forest pass will be sufficient for most hikes in the area and is
only $30 a year. A great deal if you plan to do much hiking. I have
specified on each hike what kind of pass if any is needed. And provided
links to both purchase online and retail locations to pick one up. The
money goes to maintaining the trails.

8. A friend. Hiking can be dangerous. You can fall and hurt yourself. It is
best to hike with someone whenever possible. Also when I go hiking my
wife makes me tell her where I plan to be, when she is not going with me,
and to call her when I am done. This way if I do not call her she knows
where to have someone look for me. When we go together she always tells
a friend.

9. First Aid Kit. This could come in handy for cuts or bites. It may be
unlikely you will ever need one but it is better to be safe.

10. Child Carrier. If you are a parent like me and have a small child you
can take them with you. Now I would not recommend trying this if you are
new to hiking. This is something for people that are experienced and in
very good physical condition. Your toddler may not seem heavy when you
pick them up at home. But on your back for several hours is another matte