While on a camping trip, part of the fun is taking time to enjoy the natural environment around you. It’s always refreshing to break away for a bit from the family campground or RV park for an excursion to see the sights or to get some exercise. Whether your preferred activity is called hiking, trekking, backpacking, or mountaineering, it’s smart not to leave your home base without some key items in order to stay safe and prepared for the unexpected.
Back in the 1930’s, a Seattle based outdoor adventure organization called, ‘The Mountaineers’, wrote the book (literally) on how to be prepared when exploring the outdoors. Hiking equipment, techniques, and even terminology, have all evolved tremendously since then, but their original essentials list of the most important, basic takealongs, still stands today as the gold standard.
The list can be tweaked depending on terrain, weather, length of the trail, and the level of
difficulty. You’ll likely not use all of the listed pieces, but the truth is you’ll never fully
appreciate the value of all of these items until you find yourself in a situation where you
really need one of them!
- Navigation Tools – maps, compass, & GPS. A GPS is great, but a compass doesn’t require batteries so it’s an important backup in case of emergency
- Sun protection – sunscreen for skin and lips with a high SPF and UV filtering sunglasses – especially if you’re hiking above the tree line
- Insulation – extra layers of clothing, raingear, extra socks, a hat, & appropriate footwear
- Illumination – flashlight, headlamp, extra batteries – to find your way in darkness or to signal for help
- First-aid: prepackaged hiking kit – and learn how to use it before you go.
- Fire starters – for warmth or to signal for help: butane lighters, candles, matches in a water-proof container
- Repair kit – knife or multi-purpose tool to cut cloth, bandages, for food prep and to open cans, etc.
- Nutrition – food, snacks to last longer than you expect to be gone
- Hydration – wide-mouthed, easily refillable water canteen
- Emergency shelter – plastic tent or giant trash bag and a reflective blanket
- Insect repellent – wicking long sleeved shirt and pants and chemical repellent
- Signaling device – to call out in case of emergency: whistle, 2-way radio, cell phone
And a word to the wise… before you head out, get a weather report so you know how to dress. Also, tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return so if you’re way overdue and/or lost, you can easily be found.