Hiking Checklist: A Guide to the Basics
If you do not have a lot of experience with hiking, it is definitely a good idea to use a hiking checklist to help you pack. Whether you are going out for a day hike or plan to spend days or weeks out in the wilderness, there are certain items that you should definitely have on hand. Regardless of the fact that cell phones allow us to keep in contact with other nearly everywhere in the world, you still run the chance of encountering an emergency where help may not be able to reach you for some time. In preparation for a scenario like that, you should be sure to have the following items with you…
Every hiking checklist has “the basics.” These are the minimum items that any responsible hiker should have. The first item on the list is a backpack. Your backpack is an important item for the obvious reason that it will hold your things. It’s a good idea to choose a very sturdy and weatherproof backpack, as there is nothing worse than getting caught in the rain only to find that all of your spare clothes and food have become soaked. If you plant to stay overnight on your adventure, then be sure to pack a tent. Again, it’s a good idea that it be waterproof and capable of withstanding the elements where you plan to hike. For instance, if you’re going to be in the mountains in April, you may want a tent that can handle temperatures below freezing. A sleeping bag comes next, followed by hiking shoes, a compass, a good quality knife or multi-tool, and a first aid kit.
Food and Cooking Supplies
This is where the hiking checklist really starts to grow. If you are planning a trip longer than a day in duration then you are going to need quite a few more supplies regarding food. Taking freeze dried meals rather than DIY foods is not only a great way to save space in your pack but it also cuts down the amount of time and energy you spend preparing food. Other dry goods such as Ramen noodles or sachets of instant oatmeal are lightweight and super easy to prepare at meal time. In addition to food you will also need to pack water (preferably in water bladders/pouches rather than bottles, as they are much lighter), eating utensils, plate/bowl, a lightweight cooking pot, and a propane-fuelled backpacking stove. An alternative to a cooking stove would be to simply bring a lighter or matches and build a fire yourself. If you find that you cannot function without the aid of caffeine, be sure to pack some instant coffee and a travel mug for yourself.
Optional (but Useful) Gear
If you are the type that prefers traveling a little heavier in order to have a few more “comforts” then be sure to consider the following items while packing. A toothbrush and toothpaste, stored in a zip-top bag would be a good idea, as would deodorant. A map of the area, a flashlight, toilet paper, sun block, spare zip-top bags (for saving food and keeping toilet paper dry), a towel, biodegradable dish soap and scrubber, and bug spray may also be considered. Other useful items include duct tape, a hiking pole/stick, thermal pants and tops, trash bags, a watch, a camera, a clothes line, dental floss, powdered beverage mix such as Gatorade or Propel, water filter equipment or water treatment tablets, and spare batteries for the flashlight. Obviously your degree of experience and comfort level in the wilderness will have a large influence on what you decide to pack in the end, but hopefully you find this list to be a helpful starting point.