Well it’s that time of year again, time to hit the trails and explore as much as you can. Some people, me included, are guilty of not being completely prepared for hiking, especially for short day hikes. It’s important to have at least the essentials in your pack because you never know what might happen. It is always better to be overly prepared then not have something when you need it.
1. Contacts: Make sure you tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to be back. If your family is anything like mine, your Mom appreciates this even when going to the grocery store.
2. Backpack: A comfortable and durable daypack makes a difference; there is nothing worse than a strap breaking mid hike.
3. Hydration: I always have my Hydro Flask with me, and I plan on bringing my new 40 oz bottle everywhere. Who doesn’t want ice cold water on a hot summer day? It’s easy to become dehydrated on a warm sunny day of strenuous hiking, and dehydration is the enemy!
4. Navigation: I am a wanderer so it’s important to be able to get my bearings, and always find my car at the end of the day. At the very least, a small compass could end up saving your life, but maps, and/or a GPS can be equally useful in helping you blaze the trails.
5. Utility: After watching 127 Hours I will always make sure my knife is sharp! Carry a small pocket knife with a locking blade. A knife is great for cutting salami, whittling a marshmallow skewer out of a branch, or removing an arm trapped under a giant boulder…
6. Weather: Rain gear or small, packable poncho are especially necessary if you are hiking in the Pacific Northwest, rain can move in at a moment’s notice and staying dry is vital to maintaining body temperature.
7. First Aid: I keep a small first aid kit on me at all times, but the majority of you probably aren’t as clumsy as I am, so just having it for extended day hikes will be sufficient.
8. Lighting: Many times I’ve been very thankful I had my headlamp in my pack, as I’m guilty of hiking without a watch, and not realizing I should have started to head back earlier. There are many great compact headlamp options out there.
9. Fire: If you do get lost it’s best to just stop rather than continue to get more lost, and being able to have a fire could be a life saver. Carry a few waterproof matches or a small fire starting kit in the bottom of your pack.
10. Energy: It’s essential to eat enough for a day of exercise. Eat high energy, complex carbohydrate food. I love Clif Bar brand, the bars are delicious and nutritious, and the Shot Bloks electrolyte chews are a must.
11. Shelter: A small, compact survival blanket can keep you warm when a storm unexpectedly rolls in.
12. Cell phone: You might not always get reception, but if you do this can be a vital resource in an emergency.
Hiking is a great activity that the whole family can enjoy. It’s important to make smart, safe decisions, and to always be prepared. Also, remember to have fun, the outdoors is really just a big playground for us to explore!