PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Hiking is a great way to unplug and stay in shape. But it is an activity that can take you off the grid, away from civilization, cell coverage and immediate help. Therefore, you need to make sure you have all the things necessary to ensure a safe and successful day (or days) on the trail. Use this list as a guide, but do add other things you think you would need for when the unexpected occurs.
Even if you are out for an hour, you need water. Not the bare minimum, but extra in case you get lost, injured or for any other reason you may be out on the trail longer than expected. How much to bring depends on you, the length of hike and time of year. At least 2 liters is a good start. If you are going to be hiking by streams, lakes or springs; take a means to filter water as well.
With water, you need food. Take snacks – salty and sugary. Electrolyte replacements are also a great way to quickly replace, well, electrolytes. The hotter it is, the more you may need.
PROTECTION FROM THE ELEMENTS
The desert sun can be brutal so you want to be sure you are protected. These should be considered the bare minimum essentials: Sunscreen (at least 15 SPF), lip balm with sunscreen, UPF protection clothing, a brimmed hat and sunglasses. And if it might rain, have an emergency poncho in your pack.
Your footwear is an important piece of equipment. Improper shoes and socks for the hike you are on can lead to sore feet, debilitating blisters and twisted ankles. Make sure you have good, broken in, hiking shoes or boots.
Additionally, be aware of the make up of your shoes. If you are hiking in dry, hot environments, you will want to avoid waterproof or full leather boots. If you are hiking in cold, wet environments, then a waterproof shoe is a better option.
Yes, there are a lot of trail apps and GPS devices on the market and they are not a bad tool for navigating. However, a map will not fail you if you know how to read one. Apps and GPS units can provide you with inaccurate information and are not always reliable. Think about the last time your GPS directed you down the wrong street.
Just because you hike to disconnect, it doesn’t mean you should be incommunicado. Have your cell phone just in case you can get a signal. Take a Spot locator or satellite communication device like a Garmin inReach. At the very least, always let someone know where you are going and when you will be back. Leave them a copy of your route, detailed map and itinerary. You should also leave this same information in your car at the trailhead.
Even your short hike can result in your hiking in the dark, whether it be due to an injury, getting lost or just to wait out the heat of the day. A headlamp (preferred) or a flashlight will help get you back to the trailhead or signal for help.
If you are delayed on the trail, nighttime temperatures can drop and you will wish you had something warm to slip into. Take a fleece jacket or something that provides you some warmth. If you want to keep it light, take an emergency blanket instead.
FIRST AID KIT
This does not have to be a big kit and you can always add or subtract from a store bought one. But it should include…
• Elastic Bandages
• Athletic Tape – 1”
• NSAIDs – Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs
• Safety Pins
• Anti-bacterial ointment
• Small knife or multi-tool
This amazing creation can fix so many things. Use it to prevent or bandage blisters, fix tent poles, fix shoes, repair holes in packs or tents or even fashion yourself a wallet. I always have a small roll in my first aid kit and additional tape wrapped around my trekking poles or water bottle.
This may all seem excessive and you could end each hike having never used many of these items. But isn’t that a good thing? It doesn’t mean you never will, so be a good scout and always be prepared.