The 10 Essentials of Hiking
Ten things to bring on every hike
1. Map and compass/GPS.
A map not only tells you where you are and how far you have to go, it can help you find campsites, water, and an emergency exit route in case of an accident. A compass can help you find your way through unfamiliar terrain-especially in bad weather where you can't see the landmarks. Either one without the other is significantly less. While GPS units are extremely useful, always carry a map and compass as a backup.
Carry a whistle with exceptional loudness to be used to aid in rescue.
3. Extra water.
Without enough water, your body's muscles and organs simply can't perform as well. Too little water consumed will not only make you thirsty, but susceptible to hypothermia and altitude sickness.
4. Extra food.
Any number of things could keep you out longer than expected: a lengthy detour, getting lost, enjoying time by a stream, an injury, or difficult terrain. Extra food will help keep up energy and morale.
5. Rain gear and extra clothing.
Because the weatherman is not always right, dressing in layers allows you to adjust to changing weather and activity levels. Two rules: avoid cotton (it keeps moisture close to your skin) and always carry a hat.
6. Firestarter and matches.
The warmth of a fire and a hot drink can help prevent hypothermia. Fires are a great way to signal for help if you get lost.
7. First aid kit.
Prepackaged first aid kits for hikers are available at any outfitter. Increase your first aid skills by taking a class with the American Red Cross. Wilderness First Aid classes are also offered by many hiking organizations.
8. Knife or multi-purpose tool.
These enable you to cut strips of cloth into bandages, remove splinters, fix broken eyeglasses, and perform a whole host of repairs on malfunctioning gear-not to mention cut cheese and open cans.
9. Flashlight and extra batteries.
You will need a light to help you find your way in the dark and, if necessary, signal for help.
10. Sunscreen and sunglasses.
Especially above treeline when there is a skin-scorching combination of sun and snow, you'll need sunglasses to prevent snow blindness and sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
This fact sheet was originally created by and is reprinted with permission of American Hiking Society