Keepin’ It Safe & Fun
We want you to be safe and have fun, so here’s our list of the 10 things you should bring and do when you are in the outdoors:
1. Plan ahead and prepare: You should have the answers to these questions BEFORE you go day hiking, camping or backpacking: What will the weather be like? Am I choosing a hike that everyone in my group will be able to be safe and have fun on? What permits do I need?
2. Map and compass/GPS: Whether you are going on a day hike or backpacking, you need a map. A topographical map is best, and you want to know how to read it and use a compass. GPS systems are helpful, but remember that it is only as smart as its user!
3. Sunglasses and sunscreen: You don’t want to burn your skin or your eyes. Just bring both–it’s simple and will make your trip a lot more enjoyable.
4. Extra food and water: You don’t need to pack a 7-course meal, but you should bring food that will give you energy when you need it, like bars, trail mix, pretzels, nuts, dried fruit, and jerky. And don’t forget extra water, especially if you’re hiking in an area without streams, creeks, rivers or lakes. If there is a lot of water around bring iodine tablets or a water filter to purify your water.
5. Extra clothes: Extra layers are a good thing, but make sure it’s NOT cotton! Fleece, wool, polyester–anything synthetic that will dry quickly and keep you warm if the temperature drops.
6. Headlamp/flashlight: Hiking in the dark sucks. Bring a headlamp or flashlight, and make sure that your batteries are new. And it’s not a bad idea to bring extra batteries with you!.
7. First aid kit: Don’t leave home without this. Any kit should include treatments for blisters, adhesive bandages of various sizes, several gauze pads, adhesive tape, disinfecting ointment, over-the-counter pain medication (ibuprofen, anti-diarrhea, etc.) pen and paper. Latex gloves and a CPR mask also deserve consideration. The length of your trip and the number of people involved will impact the contents of your kit. It’s also a good idea to carry some sort of compact guide to dealing with medical emergencies.
8. Fire: Always carry waterproof matches or a lighter, and think about a fire starter. The ideal firestarter ignites quickly and sustains heat for more than a few seconds–dry tinder tucked away in a plastic bag; candles; priming paste; heat “nuggets” (chipped-wood clusters soaked in resin). Even lint trappings from a household clothes dryer can work. Remember, warm=good, cold=bad.
9. Repair kit and tools: Knives or multitools are handy for gear repair, food preparation, first aid, making kindling or other emergency needs. A basic knife should have at least 1 foldout blade (more likely 2), 1 or 2 flathead screwdrivers, a can opener and (though some people will call this a luxury) a pair of foldout scissors. The more complex your needs (if, for example, you are leading an inexperienced group), the more options you may want in your knife or tool. Duct tape rules–don’t leave home without it!
10. Your brain: None of this stuff will help you if you make bad decisions. Always tell people where you are going. Always plan ahead and prepare. Always travel on terrain that is safe for your entire group. You don’t have to be a hard-core mountain man to get outside, but you do need to use your street smarts!