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Now that you have all the essentials you need to wear for your day hiking trip, it's time to pack your bag with the most important pieces. Below I have some of the essentials I always bring with me when I'm hiking. These are standard items I ALWAYS have in my bag, not because I want to just carry them, but because they are necessary for survival in case of an emergency. Most of these items I hope to never have to use, but accidents happen, so be safe and be prepared.
This without question is the most important item to have with you at all times. You can get a simple day-hiking first aid kit to carry with you that has all the things you need; Band-aids, antiseptic ointment, aspirin, gauze, scissors, tape, and more. This is not only important for you, but for those with you. You never know when you will need it. This is one of those items that you hope to NEVER use, but you will be thankful you have it when it's a must. I also carry this kit when I'm snowboarding as well!
*TIP* - When using an item from your first aid kit, make it a point to replace the item when you get back home. That way you aren't stuck somewhere without the right supplies.
When you are hiking, similar to a first aid kit, there are times when desperate times call for desperate measures. If there is a branch down you need to cut or you get a splinter, it's always a wise idea to have a multi-tool with you. Most multi-tools have pliers, a knife, tweezers, and a file. These are all really great options to have in case of an emergency or you want to cut your apple when you stop for a snack. I always make sure to have this handy with me when traveling on the trails.
*TIP* - It would be a good idea to get a keychain to be able to attach this tool to your belt or pants when hiking. You never know when you need to use it and it's a good idea to have it readily available.
Another item you hope to never use is a firestarter. This emergency BlastMatch is small enough to always have in your bag when you are hiking. Hoping that you never have to use it in an emergency, it's a good idea to invest in one. I'm a huge fan of S'mores so I hope that's all I ever have to use mine for, but it's good to have on hand in case you have to hunker down for a night in the wilderness.
*TIP* - While I never want to use this for an emergency, make sure to keep your surroundings in mind when you have to make a fire. Don't do it where there is potential for a forest fire. Contain the fire with rocks around it and clear away any leaves and brush so you have a bare dirt area to start a fire.
When you are preparing to hike with all the essentials and safety items, it's important to have a plan in case something goes wrong. Having an emergency blanket with you is a great idea. I carry one with me not only in case of warmth, but it can double up as shelter, a bag for water collection, and many other things. This one below also comes with first aid and survival supplies, like a whistle, fire starter, and duct tape.
*TIP* - Just like with any survival and emergency item, you never want to use it, but make some room in you pack for this, it could literally save your life.
When you are heading out to the trails, it's important to have water with you like I mentioned in the essentials blog about carrying a Camelbak, but it's also important to have a source of food with you. If you don't have room to carry a full meal with you, it's a good idea to always have a couple Clif Bars. Packed with good sources of protein and energy they are a great option when climbing and hiking. My personal favorite is the Oatmeal Raisin flavor.
*TIP* - Remember when you are hiking outside to take only pictures and leave only footprints. It's important to take your trash with you, including your Clif Bar wrappers!
Another item that is always in my pack is either my headlamp or some type of light source. Yes, all our smartphones have the fancy flashlight switch but what if your battery dies after all your Instagramming? Having a headlamp, flashlight, or light stick is helpful for you. Not only for emergencies, but also for what time of day it is. You may have started your hike later in the day and lose track of time and need some extra light to get down after the sun has set. It's also helpful for me for when I want to do a sunrise hike and need some extra light climbing up in the morning.
*TIP* - It's an easy way to stay hands free if you have a headlamp. Also see if there are ones available with red lights so your eyes aren't affected so much when hiking in darkness.
These are some of my everyday essentials that are with me every time I hit the trails. It's important to be prepared for anything out there, especially when you are hiking by yourself or with a smaller group. Being prepared can really be the difference between life or death, so don't take that chance.
Be sure to connect with me on Instagram for some of my recent hiking adventures and the views I get to encounter. Also check out Part 1: Day Hiking Essentials for the gear you need to wear to make it a great day!