10 Essentials For A Day Hike
Hello MRM Family! We are going on our first Adventure in nine days! We thought it would be prudent to give you all a detailed list on the essentials for a day hike- and no it’s not just a bottle of water. While we will be enjoying a hike in a state park that is no reason to not be prepared for unfortunate events. Here are 10 essentials for a day hike that you are expected to carry in case of emergency, we are human and accidents DO happen.
1. Day Pack (Back-Pack)
Simple, you’ll need a bag to carry all of your essentials. The pack doesn’t need to be anything fancy, a basic back pack will do the trick, but if you have one with chest and waist straps that can help to make carrying it a lot more enjoyable. A pack with a side water bottle holder or with a water bladder can save you time and energy from having to swing your bag around and dig to find what you need.
2. Tools for Navigation
While you may feel you can depend solely on your phone for GPS, you may not get service or your battery could die. We recommend bringing a map, an easy way to do that is to print a map of the trails you plan to hike and home. If you need to, you can download a map onto your phone and save it to your pictures so you don’t drain your battery. If you really want to rely on your phone- bring an external battery booster. Another handy tool to have on hand is a compass.
If you feel the need you can go all out and bring a GPS receiver, although these are more commonly used of longer multi-day hikes and back country camping.
3. Sun Protection
First, no matter the weather… WEAR SUNSCREEN, I don’t care if it’s raining, foggy, or cloudy. You can never depend on the weather to be consistent, and wearing sunscreen isn’t going to do you any harm, but forgetting it will. Apply your sunscreen BEFORE the hike, and don’t just wear sunscreen- bring it with you. One thing my father taught me to remember is that the sun in the cloudy morning at home is the same sun that burned you while on vacation in Hawaii- it doesn’t discriminate and can be pretty sneaky. You need to apply sunscreen and have it with you to reapply as necessary. Remember to get the tops of your ears, your nose, and your lips! The skin on you lips is very thin and sensitive, no one wants sunburnt lips. You can use chapstick that has SPF in it to keep you smackers safe.
Don’t forget your sunglasses, even if you plan on being in a dense forest all afternoon, bring them with you. Your eyes are sensitive, and blinding yourself isn’t going to do you any favors.
Bring a hat- no one cares if it “look good” on you. Bring it, the hat will help to protect your face and eyes. If you don’t feel like wearing it for a while you can always throw it in your pack.
I know, packing for insulation in August in southern California sounds insane. It’s already 80 degrees by 8 A.M. and you’re asking yourself why you wore long pants/leggings instead of shorts… as the saying goes, “better safe than sorry”. We recommend starting the day in layers so you can peel off each layer as you get warmer and warmer. If you have a lighter weight fleece or down jacket you can easily store it in the bottom of your pack and forget about it, and if you get stuck in an emergency situation and find yourself needing to stay warm you’ll be happy!
Bandanas are definitely recommended, there are tons of reasons to bring and wear a bandana. Some people wear them on their head to help prevent ticks and bugs, and others will wrap a wet bandana around their neck to help keep them cool.
Always having a light with you is a good idea. Perhaps the only reason you need it is because you get distracted during your hike and the day suddenly turns into night. Maybe something a bit more alarming happens. A small yet strong yet small flash light is easy to pack as it barely takes up any space. Headlamps are even better, they usually come with different light settings and allow you to keep your hands free.
6. First Aid
You can easily purchase a pre-packed first aid kit, but it’s important to know what it comes with and add extras if you need to. A space blanket, band aids, hand sanitizer, ankle wraps, gauze, anti-histamines and some ibuprofen are great add-ins and can really turn an emergency situation into something more easily handled. Make sure you bring this with you… keeping your kit in the trunk of your car won’t do you any good if you or someone has been injured miles away from where you parked.
A pack of waterproof matches, a utility knife, and duct tape can do wonders- like helping you create a shelter for the night, creating a splint, covering wounds, or even just mending your pack if it tears. You can do no wrong having these. At the very least take a knife… one of the happiest moments I’ve had is using my knife to help me open a snack I brought with ridiculous packaging. It’s the little things.
Pack light weight, nutrient dense snacks to help fuel and keep you satiated. A baggie of trail mix, some protein or granola bars, and even nut-butter packs will keep your energy up and provide you with healthy fats, fiber, and protein to keep hunger at bay. I tend to pack myself a PB&J for longer hikes, and it makes a world of difference. Throwing in a few extra bars couldn’t hurt especially if you get stuck for a long while, due to emergency or otherwise.
First of all- hydrate BEFORE you start your hike. You should start drinking more water at least a day before your hike. This will help to keep you hydrated and your body functioning properly. If your hike is at 8 A.M. be sure you get at the very least two cups of water in you before you even leave for your hike. Your body needs two cups of water any way after a night full of sleep and not taking in any water, so if you don’t start drinking until you’re on your hike… well.. you’re too late and setting yourself up for dehydration. Pack lots of water, at least a bottle for every hour you plan on spending out doors, plus one or two more for emergency or extreme heat conditions. While your pack will feel heavy in the beginning, the more you drink water your pack will get lighter and lighter, and the easier the trek back to your car will be. There are few things worse than heat exhaustion and dehydration… stay safe and drink up!
10. Emergency Shelter
If you are planning on going deep into the wilderness, this is vital. Otherwise, you could use your space blanket (from your first aid pack) or pack a large garbage bag. This could help to keep you dry if it ever happened to rain in California… any way! This is a great tool to have and packs up super small and light weight. If you don’t end up using the trash bag… you could always use it as a trash bag!
Remember to re-stock your pack after every trip, and check expiration dates and batteries every six months to be sure you’re always prepared.