I stroll around my neighborhood in preparation of that infrequent vacation that offers day hikes, with little thought to preparing in any other way. Then weeks later while on vacation, our family arrives at the trailhead and start the short, moderately strenuous day hike in warm temperatures with very little water. Learn from this! Depending on a number of factors such as health, conditioning and preparation, the hike may not be enjoyable and could result in dehydration, heat exhaustion or worse.
This is not an exaggeration; just look around at people on the next hike! Many are unprepared. We personaly witnessed this while Hiking in Big Bend National Park.
There is a lot of information available on how to prepare and what supplies are needed on day hikes and overnight hikes. My advice; continue reading this post and seek out additional answers through researching the web and visiting speciallty outdoor supply stores.
Our Backpack Inventory
It’s time for us to inventory out backpacks to see whats missing and check expiration dates. I open and spread out all the gear that Tricia and I currently have in our back packs. Follow along as I perform an inventory and determine what should possibly be added. Each item is numbered for review; start thinking and listing what might be needed for day hikes. Also, since Tricia and I always hike together, we share the load. For instance, she carries the first aid kit, while I carry some basic survival gear.
Craig’s Back Pack
Let’s look at my back pack, and the contents.
A back pack (17) is very convenient to have when others start handing you items to carry, and is needed to carry gear, water, food, camera and other miscellaneous items on longer hikes. My backpack is the CamelBak Alpine Explorer. I chose this one because it contains a 3 liter/100 ounce hydration bladder, with sip straw and it is large enough to carry hiking gear, food and a lot of camera gear. I have been very satisfied with this pack. It is comfortable, has large and small pockets to carry all of my gear, food and water. This backpack is no longer manufactured, but when I need to start looking for a new pack, I’ll start with the CamelBak brand, possibly this one; the CamelBak Rim Runner 22 Hydration Pack.
Items currently in my pack include:
- Three flashlights (1, 10 and 21) If you have only one, bring spare batteries. The light (21) clips to the hat brim.
- A folding pocket knife, Gerber EVO (2) is clipped to my belt for easy access.
- Pepper-spray (3) provides protection from animals. This type is keychain style and can be clipped to the outside of your pack.
- A short length of string (4) has many uses; so does a small length of duct tape (5) wrapped around cardboard.
- A whistle (6) may be needed for rescue, scaring animals, or finding others if separated from the group. A whistle is much louder than your loudest voice.
- Multiple ways to start a fire are always useful. A lighter (7) as the first choice, with backup plan (8) waterproof matches, and last ditch efforts (9) flint and striker.
- Your shoes should be appropriate for the trail. Moleskin (11) works well if extra padding is needed.
- A few paper towels (12) are always nice to have to wipe hands and as fire starter material.
- Be prepared for rain with a lightweight poncho. (13)
- A compass (14) is useful if lost, but learn how to use it before you hit the trail.
- Emergency blankets (15 & 24) will protect you from the elements; useful in all climates.
- The small black zipper case (16) is useful for keeping the small seldom used items together.
- Gloves (18) offer hand protection.
- Another knife (19); the Gerber Warrant Knife has a larger, heavier blade with a serrated edge and has a blunt tip, for prying. The sheath can be connected to a belt.
- Paracord (20) is lightweight line, but stronger than the string (4).
- Orange flagging (22) can be used for marking the trail as needed. The flagging is wrapped around firestarter material.
- Hand warmers (23) for those cold days.
- This emergency water bag (25) is useful to collect water found on the trail, but a way to purify water is needed; something I don’t have.
- A small pouch (26) and net bag within this pouch to bundle small items.
Tricia’s Back Pack
Now, let’s look at Tricia’s backpack.
Tricia’s backpack (6), an Ascend H1250, is smaller than mine, but holds 2 liters/72 ounces of water in a bladder, with an insulated sip straw. This one is no longer available, but since I like the CamelBak brand, I found one that is comparable backpack for women, the CamelBak Helena 20 Hydration Pack. She also carries duplicate items and some I do not have. See the following list.
- Carry an ink pen (1) to sign log books, fill out permits, etc.
- Hand and foot warmers (2) mean comfort in cold weather.
- This rain poncho (3) is somewhat thicker, better quality than mine. Tricia carries a second one (11) for other hikers, or we can use it to protect camera gear, binoculars, etc.
- More pepper spray (4). This is the same as my pepper spray, but she likes the pink case.
- Another whistle (5); each person should carry one.
- Another folding knife (7); same as mine, a Gerber EVO.
- Another flashlight (8)? Yes, but Tricia’s is slightly different. Her’s is a blacklight flashlight to find those pesky scorpians at night.
- Carry a first aid kit (9). These kits, such as this one can be purchased or assembled from personal supplies. Don’t forget your personal medication.
- More paper napkins (10).
- Sun screen (12) is needed on the beach, and in the mountains.
While performing research for this post, I learned and realized that I should consider adding a few items to our backpacks. These items were either overlooked, or were not in our packs at the time of this inventory. Although our packs contain items for day hikes, I believe we should always prepare for a longer than anticipated hike. For instance, the planned 2 mile, 2 hour hike may become a much longer hike due to unexpected weather, trail conditions, health issues or stopping to view beautiful scenery. Additional items to consider adding include:
- water purification tablets, purification straw and/or a purification pump
- better quality rain ponchos
- plastic bags to protect electronic gear
- a handheld GPS unit. My Garmin eTrex 10 is used when I am outdoors hiking or boating in new areas. It is used primarily to track my current starting point and path.
- an emergency shelter
- an all in one tool. I have a Leatherman multitool similar to this Leatherman tool.
- a small signal mirror
Water: Consider bringing extra water. When we hiked in Big Bend National Park, we stored 5 gallon jugs of water in our vehicle for our drives in the desert. We also carried additional water bottles in each of our packs.
Food: Consider bringing fruit, peanuts, granola bars, any high energy snacks will work. Bring more than you anticipate needing.
Equipment: There are many other items to consider packing on the trail.
- Camera Gear: I pack my SLR, an extra lens, tripod and GoPro with extra batteries. Tricia packs her Point-and-Shoot and extra batteries.
- Binoculars: Tricia packs her binoculars.
- GPS: I pack my handheld GPS.
- Phones: We both carry our cell phones.
- Hiking poles: Tricia and I sometimes use one. After the last hike through a canyon, we will not leave these behind on future hikes.
The Reader’s Back Back, Gear and Supplies
All of the items in our packs were purchased individually at various locations, some items were already available in our home. If starting out as a newbie hiker, consider purchasing a Survival Gear Kit. In preparing this article, I researched the following 3 survival kits for review and possible purchase.
Also, all hiking gear, supplies, etc. selected is a personal choice. Use this blog post as a starting point to think seriously about your needs, your family and friends needs and safety before your next hike.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe will add value to my readers.