Top trails and products for successful hikes

Here are some of the top spots for hiking and camping this summer.

The second that the sun starts to peek through the clouds and the weather turns nice again, outdoor lovers rejoice. After spending the off-season mentally planning for amazing hiking and camping adventures, once summer rolls around, these adventurous individuals are more than ready to lace up their boots, grab their gear and head out.

And why not? There are so many parts of the Earth that you can only see by walking. And with numerous studies proving the positive effects that exercise has on mind and body, getting out into the sunshine and learning a bit about nature is a great way to spend this season.

If you are eager to spend some time outdoors this summer, here are some of the top camping and hiking spots and some ideas for the gear you might need to bring with you to ensure fun and safety:

- Appalachian Trail – For you East Coasters, you're in luck! This trail is a massive 2,178 miles that stretches from Georgia to Maine. It is the longest marked trail in the United States, a feat that continues to take the combined efforts of over 6,000 volunteers to maintain, according to Discovery. This trail offers the opportunity to thru-hike, meaning a complete trek of the trail in its entirety or weekend and day hikes, where individuals can walk just sections of the trail. If you are considering this trek, you will definitely need a pack that can carry 25-30 pounds, like the ProGear series from Pelican. You will also want to bring layers of clothing that you can mix and match through the variety of climates that you will encounter on your trek.

- Glacier National Park – Significantly different from the Appalachian Trail, Glacier is a National Park located in Montana that has hiking trails throughout its limits. This popular hiking spot, Discovery says, is "known for impressive mountain peaks, isolated alpine lakes and no shortage of wildlife. The park gets its name from the huge glaciers that helped to shape the park's rock formations 10,000 years ago." Not to be missed, especially when traveling through middle-America, Glacier requires permits for overnight hikers, but these aren't in as much demand as those for Yosemite or the Grand Canyon. Other than a permit, you will need heavy layers of clothing if you are staying overnight as temperatures can drop very low, especially at mountain peaks.

- Pacific Crest Trail – Sort of the Ying to Appalachian's Yang, the PCT is a 2,600 mile-long trail running through the West Coast. While hiking this trail, individuals will experience Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington and parts of Canada.  Hikers will be exposed to canyons, deserts, lush forests and over 50 major mountain passes, according to the association's website. Individuals who endeavor to pass through the trail are required to be permitted in sections. They are advised to carry binoculars to spot the copious amount of wildlife and a water bottle in order to stay hydrated.

No matter what adventures you elect to go on this summer, make sure you have the outdoor equipment that you need in order to be safe and sound. For any major hike, like those listed above, make sure to bring a proper first aid kit, like those available from Adventure Medical. Also bring a communication device in case you get separated from your party or need to call for help. Some options might be a satellite telephone, like those available through GlobalStar or Iridium, or for a more solid understanding a locator is always handy. ePal Inc. has a series of GPS deals that are great to check out before setting out. 

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