When hiking, it’s important to take many things into consideration. For example, where are you going? What will the terrain be like? How long is the hike? Is the trail well marked?
Assuming you have a reasonable amount of knowledge concerning the answers to these questions, it’s now time to pack your day bag. First off, your actual pack is pretty important. If it’s uncomfortable at all, it can ruin your hike. Make sure it fits well on your back and ideally use one with a waist and chest strap to take the weight off of your shoulders.
Many groups have made a “ten essentials” list, but I think the updated list in 2003 in the book “Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills” is the most comprehensive and useable.
- Navigation. Topographic map and assorted maps in waterproof container – a magnetic compass, optional altimeter or GPS receiver can come in handy as well
- Sun Protection. Sunglasses, sunscreen for lips and skin, hat, clothing for sun protection.
- Insulation. Hat, gloves, jacket, extra clothing for coldest possible weather during current season, and rain gear!
- Illumination. Headlamp, flashlight, batteries.
- First-Aid Supplies, plus insect repellent.
- Fire. Butane lighter, matches in waterproof container.
- Repair Kit and Tools. Knives, multi-tool, scissors, pliers, screwdriver, trowel/shovel, duct tape, cable ties.
- Nutrition. Bars like Cliff bars or Chewy bars as well as sandwiches with peanut butter or tuna can give you the energy you need to keep hiking!
- Hydration. Bring filtration system if you think you can’t carry enough water originally
- Emergency Shelter. Tarp, bivy bag, space blanket, plastic tube tent, jumbo trash bags, insulated sleeping pad.
Of course, according to the hike you’ll be taking, you can choose which of these items is necessary and which can be left behind. On a shorter, well-marked hike, for example, the emergency shelter is probably not always necessary. But it definitely never hurts to bring along. The hydration tip is extra important. MAKE SURE TO HAVE WATER! There is nothing worse than being halfway through a hike and running out of water.
On top of your ten essentials, there are a few items that are really great to have for enjoyment purposes. A camera is great to document your hike. Good hiking boots can make a huge difference. And finally, a good attitude is ESSENTIAL. Get excited to be outside, to get dirty and to see some spectacular views (but try and enjoy a nice foggy hillside as well).
– Natasha Way, SCA Intern
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