“Preparedness” is relative. As I head out on a day hike to Popo Agie Falls with my toddler, his backpack is sure to contain “necessities,” such as Matchbox cars, toy dump trucks, and a couple of stuffed animals. But mine will look different. Here are ten things that will prepare you for that short day hike that could turn into an overnighter.
Forget the soda. Bring at least a liter of water. To replenish your reservoir, stick close to potable water sources or carry a water purification system.
2. Rain Shell
Wherever you are, you'll be happier if you stay dry. Even on a clear day, pack a rain shell for protection from wind and water.
How many times have you rounded a corner hoping to see your car, only to see more hills? You may think you know where you're going, but in case you find yourself in untrodden territory, bring a topographical map.
It might only be a day hike, but you could get be-nighted. Lighter than a lantern and more convenient than a flaming torch, a headlamp will lend a helping hand if you find yourself out later than expected.
5. Warm Layers
Whether a synthetic or down jacket, fleece, or a woolly pullover, a warm layer will keep you snug if the temperatures drop.
Don’t be stuck trying to rub two sticks together or trying to use your Jedi mind powers to create fire. Grab a lighter and give your forearms (and telekinetic brain) some rest.
7. First Aid Kit
A must-have, pack a first aid kit. ‘Nuff said.
Pack some broad band SPF 30 to 50 water resistant sunscreen.
Hiking makes you hungry! Bring some nosh—bananas, granola, chocolate, peanut butter crackers. And remember to pack-out wrappers.
10. Peace of Mind
This means leaving something behind—a message to a loved one letting him or her know where you are going and what time you plan on returning.
Packing for more than a day hike? Check out the equipment list for a 30-day NOLS Wind River Wilderness Course.
Photograph courtesy of NOLS