On a shorter hike (5 miles or less), Paul and I usually just carry a bottle of water or two and maybe a small snack. On longer hikes, we bring more – usually the full hydration pack (which I think is a must for almost any hike over 5 miles), trail snacks (more about those on a later blog), trekking poles (I don’t use them all of the time, but Paul usually does), hand wipes, sunscreen and for me, lip balm. We always have ID on us.
Turns out, we should be carrying more. We went to an Introduction to Hiking class at our local REI – they have a wealth of free classes – and the leader provided a handy Day Hiking Checklist. https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/day-hiking-checklist.html
This is a great list to use to start planning your hiking adventures and for long-time hikers, to see if you are slacking on what you are carrying! While we throw in extra food and make sure we have lots of water (and an extra Gatorade or salt tablets depending on the weather) and a handheld GPS, we should also have a whistle in case of emergencies, a small first aid kit and a light-weight flashlight. It also doesn’t hurt to throw in an emergency blanket – they are very light weight and inexpensive available at many stores.
Obviously, you have to use your judgement on what you need and take into consideration your location and the elements. A common necessary item left behind – and one I wish he had stressed – is ID. I’ll talk more about that also in a later blog, but have something on you so that you can be identified if something happens. Also, tell someone where you are. Check in with them at the start and end of your hike. I always check in with Paul when I hike by myself so that he knows where I’m going, when I’m expected back, and where I parked.
The list is a great free resource – REI has many more. It’s time to check on your pack and see what’s there. What are your essential items? Let me know!