If your goal is to be safe and comfortable in the outdoors, it can be tough to come up with a short list of essentials. Last week we talked about how to choose light gear for your hiking trip without sacrificing comfort. This week let’s discuss safety and essential precautions to keep in mind before heading out on your hiking adventure.
Health & Safety
I love the convenience and light weight of the Adventure Medical Ultralight Watertight First Aid Kit. It’s got the medical essentials I might need on a 1-2 day trip in the backcountry, and is encased in a waterproof pouch to keep everything dry. I always pack sunscreen, insect repellant, hand sanitizer and insect bite treatment when I’m on the trail. I love the Sawyer Stay-Put System 1 Sunscreen: it’s sweat-proof, non-greasy and stays comfortable on the trail.
I always pack a knife, a bundle of strong lightweight rope, a knife, matches, and an emergency blanket for hikes in the backcountry, in case I need them. A small roll of duct tape is handy for temporary on-trail gear repair, shoe repair or pretty much anything that needs stuck together. And I keep a whistle clipped to my backpack in case of emergency. Many lightweight tents are out on the market nowadays. These include superb tents manufactured by Stephenson and Hilleberg, just to name a few. This is one of the items where cost is usually directly proportional to weight and quality. When buying a sleeping bag consider manufacturers such as Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends to name a few. They produce bags which are rated at 20F and are below 2lbs. However, accompanying these advantages comes a hefty price: these bags frequently exceed $300. Quilt bags rank high in use by lightweight hikers, and can fair as well as sleeping bags - the idea being that insulation below your body is crushed, thus reducing its insulation power.
Fuel & Water
I always pack extra water and extra high-calorie food when I head out on a long day hike. Trail mix, bananas, and dried fruit are routine snacks in my backpack. Taos Mountain Bars are delicious, incredibly tasty and have a great calorie to weight ratio. And to stay hydrated on the trail, I pack GU Brew Electrolyte Tablets: they drop into a water bottle or hydration pack and dissolve to create a flavorful, electrolyte-fortified drink.