In an emergency, you never have enough gear, and when you’re hiking up steep mountains, anything you’re carrying is too much. So, what are the essentials? If you get lost, things can go south fast if you are not properly equipped. To get you started on your journey the right way, check out these daypack necessities.
For day hikes, it’s recommended to bring a small, lightweight pack—but remember to keep it stocked. If you have to repack every time you go out, you’re likely going to forget one key item. That can be a catastrophic mistake. It’s also important to make sure your pack is not too heavy.
You’ll need a whistle if you get hurt. If you yell for help, you will wear yourself out, but if you have a whistle, with little effort you can alert someone that you’re in trouble. And don’t let your life depend on some cheap whistle you won at the carnival. A couple of recommended brands: Whistles for Life and FOX 40.
Storms can blow up in the mountains fast and if you get wet and the temperature drops 50 degrees, you’re in trouble—especially if you have to spend the night out. Be sure to bring along an easy-to-pack poncho.
Carry waterproof matches and maybe a carbide striker with you, but also throw in two or three inexpensive Bic lighters. If necessary, you can break one and pour the fuel over wood. Carry one or two fuel bars to help light damp wood.
You should always bring a bottle of water along with you, but if you’re hiking hard, you can drink all of that up fast. For your bottle, try the HydraPak—a collapsible water bottle that is easy to transport and doesn’t take up much space. Bring along an Aquamira filtered straw or a filtered bottle. That way you can drink out of creeks and lakes without picking up any potentially harmful bacteria.
For an emergency kit, we recommend Adventure Medical Kit gear. Their Moleskin or Blister Medic package are particularly helpful. When you start feeling a blister, stop and put it on. If you’re in rough country, blisters can be a big deal. Also carry some of their adhesive wrap and maybe some adhesive tape—that way you can tape up bad cuts, sprained ankles, etc. Don’t forget a tube of Bactroban or Mupirocin in case of bad cuts. This will help to prevent infection.
You didn’t think we’d forget this essential, did you? Adventure Medical Kit makes some small, 50-inch rolls that are easy to carry. Use duct tape to splint broken tent poles or tears in your tent, fix up the soles of your hiking boots, and so much more.
If you want something to signal with, throw a couple of CDs in your pack. They’re good to get someone to notice you whether on foot or in a plane. Tie a few to a string and dangle them from a tree. Make sure to store them in a slip of paper or they will get scratched.
Always make sure you have at least a little bit of food left in your pack. It’s said that you ought to have some left in your pack even when you get back to your truck. That way if you get in trouble, you still have something to eat.
You never know what kind of insects or other wildlife you may encounter on your trek, so bringing along some Sting-Kill is incredibly important. If hornets are prevalent in your locale, you may want to pack them. Sting-Kill offers swabs to apply to the affected area after you’ve removed the stinger. They also offer wipes for sting treatment.
This may only seem like a handful of items, but in a panic situation, they can save your life. Remember: Never leave your daypack behind in the car!