No matter what hike I’m on, I always pack a headlamp. You never know what will happen. I’ve been on plenty hikes where we’ve stayed on the trail longer than we anticipated and had to spend some time hiking in the dark. On some occasions we’ve gotten lost and on others we voluntarily decided to stay out longer than we had planned for.
This is a Petzl Zipka Plus 2 Headlamp. I like it because it has a retractable head strap and is super compact. This model provides 50 lumens of light and is plenty bright. 50 lumens, by the way, is the minimum strength you want in a hiking headlamp. I recently upgraded to a 100 lumen Black Diamond Storm Headlamp for nighttime rock climbing sessions. On any hike where you know you’ll be using a headlamp, make sure to pack extra batteries.
When you buy a headlamp, check that it has a red led option. Most do. The red light lets you see in the dark without constricting your pupils. So, when you turn it off, you’re eyes will still be adjusted for seeing in the dark.
Also, remember that when you’re hiking with your headlamp on, never point your light towards a street or neighborhood. People on the ground could mistake your light for a distress signal and call search and rescue. This happened to me once. I hiked down with some friends from the Mokule’ia Crag in the dark and there were cops waiting for us on the street. (Oops!) Headlamps can be visible from miles away.
I use a CamelBak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack hydration pack. There are many others to choose from but CamelBak has the best reviews because it seems to be the most durable. I tend to like the packs they make for mountain bikers as they are more narrow than a traditional hiking day pack. In general, hikes in Hawaii don’t require too much gear. I found that full size day packs are too bulky for my taste. The M.U.L.E. packs are super compact yet carry 3 liters of water. And if you need more gear, they have expansion storage compartments. Or, you could simply clip your gear on using carabiners. Perfect for a 4 to 8 hour hike.
Essential gear to have while hiking in Hawaii.
This might not apply to everyone but, for me, a camera is an essential piece of equipment for hiking in Hawaii. Maybe it’s because I’m Asian. Or, maybe it’s because the views from the top of the ridges in Hawaii are epic. I carry a dSLR but any camera will do. For those of you that like to carry dSLRs, I’ll show you my method of carrying such a heavy camera on the trail.
Everyone I hike with packs differently and has different opinions on what would be considered “essential hiking gear”. If you are interested in what I would recommend, read on…