Day hike basics: What should bring at a minimum

thinksafety First and most important. The Zero Essential. Leave your plans with a trusted friend or relative who will call the appropriate authorities if you do not return or make contact as expected. If you can’t follow this rule then you have no business being in the woods.

After you have taken care of the Zero Essential here is a short list of equipment you should have with you whenever venturing into the woods for a planned day hike. Remember, a day hike is something you plan for, being unexpectedly delayed is something you prepare for. If you aren’t prepared, then your plan is defective.


Whistle In case you get lost or separated from the group
Map and compass, or gps To keep you from getting lost
Headlamp or flashlight with 2nd set of batteries In case you get caught in the dark
Poncho To keep from getting wet from unexpected weather
Emergency blanket or bivy To stay warm if you are immobile or lost
Dry base layer – top and bottom To get dry if you get wet
Dry outer layer – top and bottom To get dry and warm if you get wet and cold
Dry socks and gloves/mittens and hat To stay warm and prevent frostbite
Fire Starter:

  • matches,
  • flint /steel, or
  • lighter
To help signal your location and possibly dry wet clothing
Fire fuel:

  • wax plug,
  • fire paste,
  • fire stick,or
  • other
To get a fire started
First Aid Kit:

  • adhesive bandages,
  • triangular bandage,
  • tape,
  • Quick clot,
  • triple action ointment,
  • tweezers,
  • scissors,
  • burn ointment,
  • sunscreen,
  • Imodium,
  • ibuprofen,
  • personal medications
To attend to injury or sickness
MacGyver Kit:

  • Pocket knife or multi-tool
  • Duct tape
  • Paracord or other rope
  • Safety pins
To MacGyver whatever you can
Means of obtaining additional drinkable water:

  • stove/fuel/pot for boiling,
  • chemical treatment, or
  • filter and chlorine.
To prevent dehydration if your return is delayed
Food you didn’t intend to consume on the hike To stay energized if your return is delayed
Sufficient food and water for the hike To stay energized and hydrated for the planned duration
Cell phone If it works use it.  Just don’t depend on having service.  Try texting even if there is no voice service.

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