People often ask what you should carry on day hikes.
Here’s a list of the stuff I dumped out of my backpack to get
it ready for cleaning:
If there will be steep grades, boulder scrambling, or bushwhacking,
I use a pair of walking sticks to save my knees and wear work gloves
to protect my hands.
100oz hydration pack, filled with water even on a short, easy hike
small first-aid kit
comb, for removing cholla branches
LED head lamp. Got to remember to check those batteries!
mostly-depleted roll of toilet paper, with a lightweight hand shovel
mostly-depleted roll of duct tape
compact digital camera
compass. Although I feel obliged to carry one, I never look at it.
Desert navigation is by landmarks. Just remember that in Arizona,
the sun is in the south at mid-day.
You can also navigate by the moon and stars.
map, unless I have the trail memorized
hand-held GPS, carried in a little case on the top of the backpack
whistle, signal mirror, and LED signal light
cell phone, with a list of telephone numbers
extra car key
emergency information: my prescription list, and doctors’ business cards
two days’ supply of my prescription meds.
In my car I keep:
I use my GPS only as a recording device.
It’s a simple-minded model that doesn’t include maps but does an
adequate job of recording latitude and longitude and downloading the tracks
and waypoints to a computer using the TOPO software from National Geographic.
If you are carrying a hand-held GPS for navigation – something which
I’ve tried but don’t recommend – it will provide continuous
readings of the distance and direction from where you are to a chosen
waypoint, such as the trailhead you started from or a destination you
programmed in. It will also record the latitude and longitude of the gold
mine you found, or, where to send emergency help.
- large first-aid kit plus instruction book
a complete change of clothes. When the hike is far from home, changing
into clean, dry clothes greatly improves the drive back.
Change your shoes and socks, at least.
some freeze-dried food and emergency equipment, in case I get stranded
- gallon jug of purified water
on hot days, an insulated jug of purified ice water, with plastic cups
Two more suggestions for what to carry in your backpack:
- Water purification tablets.
Waterproof matches or something else to start a fire.