There are items that we want on the trail and items that we need. We try and make a distinction of those items so that when we pack for a hiking adventure we know what to pack first and then what we can leave out in case our pack gets too heavy. These are the items we think everyone should carry on their hikes. We won’t go over the obvious food and water, those are just givens that you should have on every hike.
1.) EXTRA Water – Ok, Ok, I know we said we wouldn’t go over the obvious things, but this summer has been extremely hot in parts of the U.S. and people are underestimating how much water they need. When you pack for summer hikes, pack what you think you will need and then add a little extra. You won’t regret that decision and in some cases, it could save your life. Often, hikers don’t plan their water out for their specific hikes and come to realize not every hike is the same. Things to take into consideration: temperature, elevation, length or duration, elevation gain and number of people in the group. We also like to separate our water into several different bottles or storage containers. We have a bladder we keep in the top of our pack and two water bottles for our backpack pockets. This is good for those emergencies where you might puncture a bladder or lose a water bottle down the side of a mountain. Yes, we have experience with that last one.
2.) First Aid Kit – Even if it is a very basic first aid kit, I always encourage people to pack one. They are usually very lightweight and won’t take up much room, but can save you a lot of agony. From blisters to sunburns and regular scrapes and scratches, you never know what might happen. We recommend at least having the following in your kit: Band Aids, Anti-Bacterial Ointment, Antiseptic Wipes, Tape, and gauze.
3.) Water Filtration – We always throw in a water filtration device of some sort. The type of device depends on the hike and location. If you know you are hiking in the desert and won’t be running into any water sources, feel free to go back to Item #1 on this list, but for most hikes that we do we bring a filtration device along because you never know what conditions you might run into and for what you might need additional water for.
4.) Pack Rain Cover – Some backpacks come with built-in rain covers others do not and you have to buy one for your pack. We have found that it is key to keep your clothes dry and not just your socks and underwear to prevent rubbing and blisters, but your base layers and mid-layers too. The last thing you want is to get to camp and not have a single layer of dry clothing to keep you warm during a cool summer night.
5.) Plastic Bag – Whether it’s for wet clothes or picking up extra trash on the trail, we always pack a plastic bag or two and almost always find a use for them. A regular grocery bag works well because they are light and small which works perfect for keeping your backpack from being overloaded.
6.) Multitool – This is something I always throw in the hip belt of my backpack. The uses I have found for my multitool are too numerous to mention. From cutting small branches to fixing backpacks or tents, it is an invaluable item to have in your pack. Leatherman is a popular brand but I have noticed in the past couple of years there are a lot of options for multitools. Things to keep in mind when purchasing a multitool: weight, number of tool options, and durability. Get one that will work best for you. They aren’t always light and you won’t always use it, but I guarantee that when you do need it you will be happy it is in your backpack.