What to Bring along on your Hiking Trip
Heading out for a day hike is a delightful way to explore nature with friends and family, or even by yourself. Whether you want to go deep into the mountains or stay closer to home, the places to go are numerous; many state and national parks offer broad networks for trails, as does national forest land. To determine what you need to bring on a hiking trip, think about how far you plan to hike, how remote the location is and what the weather forecast has in store. In general, the longer and/or more remote the hike is and the more inclement the weather, the more clothing, gear, food and water you’re going to want.
What to Bring Day Hiking
These items should be on your hiking checklist:
- Hiking backpack
- Weather-appropriate clothing (think moisture-wicking and layers)
- Hiking boots or shoes
- Plenty of food
- Plenty of water
- Navigation tools such as a map and compass
- First-aid kit
- Knife or multi-tool
- The rest of the Ten Essentials as appropriate for your hike
Packing the “Ten Essentials” whenever you step into the backcountry, even on day hikes, is a good habit. True, on a routine trip you may use only a few of them or none at all. It’s when something goes awry that you’ll truly appreciate the value of carrying these items that could be essential to your survival.
The original Ten Essentials list was assembled in the 1930s by The Mountaineers, a Seattle-based organization for climbers and outdoor adventurers, to help people be prepared for emergency situations in the outdoors. Back then, the list included a map, compass, sunglasses and sunscreen, extra clothing, headlamp/flashlight, first-aid supplies, fire starter, matches, knife and extra food.
Over the years, the list has evolved to a “systems” approach rather than including individual items. Here’s what it looks like today:
Ten Essential Systems
- Navigation: map, compass, altimeter, GPS device, personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite messenger
- Headlamp: plus extra batteries
- Sun protection: sunglasses, sun-protective clothes and sunscreen
- First aid: including foot care and insect repellent (as needed)
- Knife: plus a gear repair kit
- Fire: matches, lighter, tinder and/or stove
- Shelter: carried at all times (can be a light emergency bivy)
- Extra food: Beyond the minimum expectation
- Extra water: Beyond the minimum expectation
- Extra clothes: Beyond the minimum expectation
The exact items from each system that you take can be tailored to the trip you’re taking. For example, on a shortday hike that’s easy to navigate you might choose to take a map, compass and PLB, but leave your GPS and altimeter behind. On a longer, more complex outing, you might decide you want all those tools to help you find your way. When deciding what to bring, consider factors like weather, difficulty, duration, and distance.