We’ve all been there before: out on a day hike only to stumble over a root and get injured. We reach into our pack but can’t find a band-aid anywhere (because it’s sitting safely in the medicine cabinet at home). Luckily, it’s just a scratch, so we continue on our merry way, forgetting completely to put that band-aid into our backpack for next time.
TIP 📣 If you’re reading this right now, stop reading. Go put a first aid kit in your backpack.
But seriously, being prepared is SO important. You never know when you’ll be caught in an unexpected downpour or stay out past sunset and have to go home in the dark. In those moments, you’ll be wishing you had remembered to include these essentials.
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1. Food & Water
Always have enough sustenance for the amount of days you’ll be out PLUS an extra day’s worth. Some of our favorite snacks to pack for energy and taste are oatmeal, rice, lentils and homemade trail mix.
Water is even more important… but it’s heavy! So, start out with 2 L/70 oz. of water in a hydration station like this Camelbak reservoir*. As you travel, take notes of the accessible water sources and bring along purification drops and/or a water filter.
Even if you’re just going on a day trip, you should bring something that could turn into shelter if push comes to shove. Bringing a whole tent might not seem practical for a short trip, so you can opt for a bivy + tarp system instead.
It’s also important to think about the small, often-forgotten supplies that make the whole “putting up a shelter” system much simpler, such as rope/paracord, duct tape, and clothespins.
You do not want to get lost. Repeat: you do not want to get lost. That’s why you should always have a compass, map, and/or GPS with you.
That being said, always leave your trip plan with an emergency contact person before you go. The last thing we ever want is for you to adventure solo and not tell your friends/family where you’re going. That’s not cool.
4. Signalling Device
Keeping with the safety supplies, bring a whistle! If something happens to you, strongly blow on that whistle 3 times to signify your distress. Tip: keep your whistle around your neck, not attached to your bag.
5. Extra Clothing
We all know that clothing can make or break an experience. Wear the wrong socks and you could have a blister that plagues you for months. Get soaked in a downpour, you’ll be cold and uncomfortable in the wrong materials.
Dress in layers. This way you can peel away clothes if you get warm and add more if you get cold. Oh, and always bring a collapsible rain jacket that you can pack away when it’s not in use. You just never know when mother nature needs a good cry.
When packing clothing for your trip, function is greater than fashion. Stay away from cotton and opt for moisture-wicking fabrics such as spandex or wool (depending on the season).
6. First Aid
We can’t say enough about remembering to bring first aid. There’s nothing worse than being injured or uncomfortable when you’re miles away from home. When choosing your kit, find one that’s lightweight and doesn’t require a medical degree. We always bring this kit by Adventure Medical*.
Some extras to consider: splint, duct tape, ibuprofen, tampons, and any prescription medication.
There’s a reason why Swiss Army knives are still the gold standard of your dad’s fanny pack: they work. If you’re ever in a jam, you’re going to need more than just your teeth to get out of it. Multi-tools are for all sorts of uses, from cutting paracord to opening that bottle of wine you brought to the summit. Priorities.
8. Weather Protection
While we can’t predict the weather, we can prepare for anything it throws at us. Aside from clothing, you should pack odds + ends to keep you comfortable, such as sunglasses, sunscreen, hats or beanies, gloves, socks, and windbreakers.
9. Fire Starter
Even if you don’t plan on starting a campfire, you should always be prepared for the option in an emergency. Fire starters like matches, lighters and flint are virtually weightless items you can keep in your pack.
10. Light Source
Have you ever spent the day on the trail, only to get caught up and forget to check your watch? Before you know it, the sun slips away and you’re bumbling your way back down the trail in pitch-black darkness, jumping at every sound. Pop a headlamp and extra batteries in your pack and you’re good to go!
We hope that this post helped you plan your packing and make some updates to what you already bring. The most important part is that you get out there and have fun in a safe way! Let us know in the comments what you thought about this post.
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