by Catalogs.com Info Guru Thomas Farley
Having fun outside and staying safe while exploring means having certain gear.
There are, in other words, particular accessories for outdoor adventuring. Let’s talk about the ten essentials for day hiking. Or more precisely, the ten essential areas to think about.
10. Getting Personal
A toiletry kit: pack enough items to feel comfortable but don’t overdo it. Take some toilet or tissue paper, lip balm, suntan lotion, and whatever medicines you might need. If you are traveling in poison oak or poison ivy country, you might pack a preventive topical lotion, applying it occasionally during your hike.
9. Tool Time
A small tool kit is essential. Include a pocket knife, matches, duct tape, and a compact flashlight. While you want to avoid walking back in the dark, it happens, especially on short winter days. As for duct tape, you can use it to patch your pack, keep the sole of your boot from coming off, and even make up improvised band aids.
8. Suited and Booted
Clothing depends on conditions. Comfortable fleece is widely used and versatile, but has no resistance to wind. Smart hikers always carry in addition an impervious outer shell. It will keep you from an unexpected rain shower or that terrific wind on the summit. Many people use heavy duty garbage bags as easily carried, makeshift rain ponchos. Hats that cover your ears and neck are extremely useful. A baseball cap works, too, if a bandana hangs out the back.
7. Communicate Well
Your cell phone is trail essential but not as an infotainment device. Keep it completely off to conserve battery strength. You’ll need a full charge in an emergency. Call a friend from the top of that mountain if you want, but do everything you can to use it as little as possible. Use a dedicated camera and a dedicated GPS to avoid using those functions on the phone. Speaking of communicating, a whistle is a low tech device that might save your life. Everyone in a group should have one. Three sharp blasts from you will help your group locate you if you wander off the trail. Or you can signal your group if they get too far ahead of you.
6. With a Knapsack on My Back
A daypack should be large enough to accommodate a coat along with the rest of your gear. Make certain, too, that there is a zippered pocket on the inside for your wallet or small purse. Also, and this is really important, only buy a backpack with an inside clip for your keys. You’ll be constantly in and out of your pack while on the trail. It’s absolutely essential that your keys are locked down somewhere with a clip, safe and secure.
5. Wherever You Go, There You Are
Navigational aids. Always have a hardcopy map if you are going more than a few miles into unknown territory. A big map allows you to visualize a trail and its meanderings better than the small screen of a GPS. A GPS is wonderful and they are getting cheaper and easier to use every year. But batteries die and sometimes your GPS will get lost or broken. Rely on them, in other words, but take a map. Did I say to add an old fashion compass?
4. First Aid Should Not Be Second Rate
A first aid kit is essential. Pre-made kits are fine but add extra bandages, large ones, since outdoor cuts are always bigger than in the city. Knuckle bandages are excellent. And a scissors to your kit to cut moleskin for blisters. And if you know you blister on certain toes, bandage those digits before you go hiking. A bandana can double as a big bandage in an emergency.
3. Food Tastes Better Outdoors
Carry more food than you think you’ll need. You’ll be burning twice the calories on a day hike than you would at home so don’t go hungry. Avoid mayonnaise, cheese, and anything else that might go bad after several hours in a warm backpack. Salami, trail mix, and fruit are all good. Experienced hikers always take along extra energy bars in case accident or injury forces them to spend the night out.
2. Water, water, everywhere
Water is the most important thing you carry. Depending on exposure, temperature, season and the steepness and length of the trail, you’ll need anywhere from 32 to 96 ounces for a day out. You can carry less if there is naturally occurring water along the way. Use an approved filter or pump to make safe any spring, creek, or river water you know to be waiting. Water bottles are a cheap and easy way to carry water, but they are inconvenient. Getting to them means taking off your pack which is always a hassle. You’ll wind up drinking less. Not good. A bladder or a bladder pack is something most experienced hikers prefer. Even the military uses them. Just keep checking their connections to make sure they don’t leak.
1. Enjoy the journey
Any fear or hesitation about venturing out should be tempered by the knowledge that you have prepared well. Travel in a group if you are hesitant. The Sierra Club leads free hikes from many cities. Just don’t forget the essential accessories for outdoor adventuring.