10 Things We Don't Hike Without
When we head out for a trail adventure, we have a few items that we grab every time. We know a lot of people think a lot of different things are "required" for hiking, but we have kind of narrowed down what we tend to take. Keeping the pack a little on the lighter side can help a lot with that last mile or two, and keep things just a bit more comfortable. While this list is definitely not all inclusive, and may change dependent upon the environment, miles, etc... we thought we'd share a list of what we almost always have along on our hikes.
1. The Ten Essentials
These are the basic necessities to take along, and we have this selection between us on any walk, hike, or adventure we go on.
- Navigation - a trail map and compass (often, both are included in our iPhone)
- Sun protection - sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and a thin long-sleeved shirt for sun protection when the sunscreen quits working
- Insulation - a long sleeve shirt or a jacket, something reasonable for the environment
- Illumination - small pocket Maglite or a headlamp, with spare batteries
- First-aid supplies - we have a big kit and a small kit, depending on the length of the hike or trip. For us, this also includes an epipen and inhaler, courtesy of an allergy to bees and asthma.
- Fire - a lighter
- Repair kit and tools - a knife and some duct tape or Tenacious Tape
- Nutrition - snack bars, jerky
- Hydration - hydration pack or water bottles
- Emergency shelter - we have those silver emergency blankets that weigh almost nothing and we hope to never have to use them. The only go on longer hikes.
2. A Battery Pack
- We carry a small Brunton pack along and it works well for a small, lightweight battery pack. It doesn't fully juice up our iPhone 7's, but it'd be handy to get some extra charge in an emergency.
- When we upgraded to the iPhone 7+, we needed a pack with more juice. We chose the Anker Powercore 20,000 mAh, which can charge our phones four times over (and two phones at the same time, or a battery, etc - it has two charging ports). It's a bit heavy for the size, but in a critical situation of needing to call for help after a day of taking photos and killing the battery, this thing could be a lifesaver. It goes on every trip.
- Additionally, when we camp for multiple days, even in a car that can charge devices, this pack comes in handy if we aren't driving much or wanting to leave our expensive gadgets in the car.
- We try to use our iPhone camera for hikes to keep weight low and packs small, but that doesn't always suffice. We are film photographers, so we tend to always have some kind of camera along, if not our beefy digital camera. If we opt for digital, we tend to take only a small 50mm prime lens. If we opt for film, it's typically a camera and a handful of film.
4. Lip Balm
- Joshua Tree Skin Care Mountain Mint is our favorite because it is a great flavor and has SPF protection. We also like Nivea's A Kiss of Smoothness for an almost flavorless burst of moisturizing. Regardless of the brand, we make sure it has SPF protection.
5. A Notebook
- We always have a Word notebook in our pack. This is a great place to tuck an inspiring leaf, to record a memory or note to remember, and can also be used for leaving messages in a trail registry or log book. Don't forget the pen...
6. A Bandana
- The bandana that lives in my pack has a bunch of wilderness survival tips on it, so it could come in more handy some day, but so far, it's good for blocking sun, for cooling (by getting it damp), or for an emergency bandage or towel. This has come in handy for so many reasons, that it just stays in my bag now.
- The bandana Kim carries has an additional benefit - it can also be a game board, if we get bored!
7. Bug Spray
- If you've ever hiked in a bug crazed environment, you may wonder why this isn't on the list of ten essentials. We have. Bugs swarming the face or biting the arms and legs can honestly ruin the best of hikes. We always have bug spray, and when they get too busy in our faces, that bandana comes in handy again as a face cover.
- We love the Green Goo Bugs Be Gone for spray. We also like the Natrapel wipes, and have used Off when we had to stop in a small town drugstore and get what was available.
8. Wet Wipes
- You never know what you might encounter in the wilderness, so having the ability to answer the call of nature and stay clean will come in handy. It's a good idea to have a small shovel, toilet paper, tissues, tampons, wet wipes, and a zip plastic bag to put trash in. Pack it out, don't leave it behind. Follow the rules of the trail you are on. This is a basically a bathroom in a backpack, and most of these items can serve several other functions, as well.
9. A Whistle
- Conveniently, a whistle is included on all of the Osprey packs. We also have another that travels in our bags. If you get out too far, and can't find your way back, or get injured or stuck, a whistle could help attract help or assist rescuers trying to locate you. It can also scare off wildlife that you might encounter.
- More than just a phone... an iPhone is a compass, GPS unit, map, camera. Granted, service may not be available, but it can still come in handy. The compass works without signal. Maps can be downloaded ahead of time. Hiking apps allow for detailed trail maps to be saved for access off-the-grid. And honestly, it's a good enough camera that sometimes, it's the only one we take. Also, it provides a way to call for help. And entertainment at nighttime... movies downloaded from Netflix, games to play together, books to read, etc.
Bonus: Osprey Ultralight Zip Organizer
- A bonus tip - we use this organizer to keep all of the little stuff contained in our packs. This small, lightweight organizer holds an amazing amount of things, and keeps them together and easily accessible in a pack. We each have one, and we both find them to be a great item to carry along on every hike and trip we take.
So that's our list of what we don't go hiking without... what do you carry along that we didn't list? We would love to hear what unique things other hikers might pack along!