Day hikes can provide a quick escape from whatever is rattling you. They can be your weekly fix of nature in between your planned overnight trips. They can be an on ramp to invite that one friend who doesn’t get out much but may be fun to kick some rocks around with. There is one thing to consider though; not all day hikes are created equal. Some people only want to hike for an hour, while others may want to hike up to eight. They are both day hikes, but two entirely different experiences. Regardless of which one you choose there are a few essentials that you may want to consider before you hit the footpath.
1. TAKE A DAY PACK
Daypacks can range from string bags to small hiking packs. They offer you the versatility to have empty pants pockets and to carry things that you may need along your hike. You can bring an extra jacket in the event that it may rain. If you need to shed layers because you are getting too warm, you now have a place to store it so that you are’t tying the jacket around your waste like Joey Lawrence from Blossom (sorry for the 90’s sitcom reference). It also is a place you can store your keys, battery packs, or extra camera lenses if you are shooting some landscape photography. Day packs provide you the peace of mind of having anything that you would like to have on your short stroll without loading up the 50L pack.
2. TAKE SOME WATER
This may seem like an obvious one, but there are a lot of people that don’t think that they will need to drink water on their hike. A rule of thumb is that you should drink 1 liter of water for every 2 hours of hiking. This can vary based on temperature, humidity, and physical exertion. Though you may only be planning an hour long hike you should always plan for the worst and expect the best. You should always know your distance of hiking and how long it will take you to complete it. If you are planning on hiking 6 miles and you hike a 3mph pace (which is not slow), then you know you should take at least 1 liter of water. You can either take a bottle or if your daypack has a place for a water bladder, throw it in there to keep your hands free.
3. TAKE A SNACK
Taking a break on a day hike, especially if it is a longer one, may be a necessity. Or you just may want to stop and look at the scenery. Having a quick bite to eat can make your trip that much more enjoyable. It can also replenish calories used give you the fuel to finish the hike. Beef jerky, trail mix, fruit, candy, or favorite health bar can boost your experience as you fueled up on the trail
4. TAKE A FIRST AID KIT
Accidents happen and you should always be prepared in the event that they do. It may not even be you that will need some medical attention. There are of stories that I have heard where a friend was on trail and they ended up helping out another hiker who was injured and needed some medical care. You don’t have to weigh down your pack with a large med kit. There are great first aid kits that are specifically designed for a certain amount of people or amount of days hiking. I have built my own first aid kit based on the training I received through my Wilderness First Responder certification. The most important part of your first aid kit should be a pocket mask and nitrile glove. You first want to protect yourself before engaging in any type of medical treatment of someone else.
5. OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
Cell phones are great because they can give us maps in the palm of our hand. We can find out our position, which direction we are going, and how far we have gone and how fast we have done it. But technology is not perfect. That is why I recommend taking a map and compass if you are going to be day hiking on trails that you are not familiar with and may not be part of a local parks district. Once again it is better to be safe than sorry. Another thing to consider is a flashlight or headlamp. You make take a wrong turn or underestimate the distance you had planned. If the sun begins to fall sooner than you anticipated, having a light source can bring comfort in the dark as well as an emergency beacon for others to find you in the event you get lost.
In closing, these essentials are what you will find me with when I get on trail for any type of time and distance. I would rather carry a little weight with me if that means that I have the necessary items to make my trip a safe and enjoyable hike.
Hope From the Trail
Hope From the Trail features original content related to the healthy pursuit of self, others, and nature. Be sure to stay connected for all things outdoors.