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Hiking and Backpacking Essentials

Hiking and Backpacking Essentials every time you head outdoors. 

It seems like every couple of weeks we are reading about rescues due to hikers becoming lost or needing assistance.  Most could be prevented by carrying a few of these items with us, even on short hikes.

I have been a little lax about packing my hiking & biking essentials. I’m redoing my pack and making sure I always carry all of these things plus a few additions below🧐

What to bring: The 10 Essentials 

NAVIGATION- super important. Do you know how to read a map or use a compass? I didn’t, so I took a navigation course at @rei which excellent. There are also online courses on how to use a compass and read a map, well worth checking them out. Of course there are excellent apps out there, I use All Trails.

SUN PROTECTION- In addition to sunblock & sun glasses I wear clothing with SPF protection and wear a wide brimmed hiking hat. On long hot hikes like the PCT and our Arizona deserts, I carry an umbrella that weighs less than 7 ounces.

INSULATION- Layers are super important so you can add more or remove layers as you warm up. I carry a raincoat & rain pants. Even a poncho can help without adding a lot of weight to your pack.

FIRST AID- super important I carry a kit every time I go hiking, biking and backpacking. I ALWAYS bring my Spot emergency device and have since I hiked the PCT. There are a variety of emergency devices out there to choose from & highly recommend getting one.  Tip: change out your batteries with fresh ones every spring along with refreshing your first-aid Kit. Carry an set of extra batteries for all electronics and an extra charge for your cell phone.

ILLUMINATION- in addition to my headlamp, I carry a solar light with a cell phone charger built in.  Tip: I carry extra batteries for my headlamp and replace them every spring with fresh ones.

REPAIR KIT- I always carry a little duct tape. I just wrap some around my lighter or flash light to use for blisters, repair tentpoles, straps, everything.

FIRE- this year I’m adding a fire starter and I’m going to learn how to make a fire in the bush. This could be life saving especially during winter weather. I also carry a utility pocket knife with a bunch of different gadgets that have come in handy.

HYDRATION- super important as a lot of rescues are for hikers that ran out of water. Carry a water filter with you like a Sawyer Mini or Squeeze or a life straw. If you don’t have access to water like here in the Arizona desert I carry a minimum of 3 liters and more depending on the trip, I use a bladder and a Nalgene bottle. I also carry electrolytes with me even in the winter.

NUTRITION- always bring extra food, at a minimum enough for an extra day depending on the length of your trip, it can help keep you warm if you get stuck overnight. I include healthy fats, protein and carbs.

EMERGENCY SHELTER- I’ve always carried a space blanket but I’m upgrading to a insulated tarp that doubles as a shelter.

PROTECTION- I carry Bear Spray with me for protection against wildlife as well as any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. You know the gut feel you get when you around someone who gives off a bad vibe.  I carry this and my emergency device on the outside of my pack not buried inside, so I can get to them easily. I also let someone know where I will be hiking and when I expect to return, especially as a solo hiker and backpacker.

11th ESSENTIAL- leave no trace, I had to add as it was left off the REI diagram. I bring a pair of gloves and a trash bag as it seems there is always trash that needs to be picked up. I always hang my Kula Cloth on my pack for peeing in the woods, less TP!

Hope you all find this helpful and prevent the next rescue from being you!
Happy Trails,

Debbie