Whether you are going out for a simple day-hike or 2-week backpacking trip, there are some essentials you should always have with you as you work the trails. Here are the Tampa Adventure Group?s 10 Essential Items, plus some interesting add-ons for you to consider before hitting the trails. It?s time to get geared up!
1. MAP AND COMPASS AND/OR GPS UNIT:
Its one thing to get lost with a map; it?s just stupid to get lost because you didn?t have a map in the first place. And now available is the virtually idiot-proof GPS unit.
2. WATER AND MORE WATER PLUS A WATER FILTER
Carry enough water to last your entire trip or a way to treat water as you go. Without enough water, your body just doesn?t work. You can go three days without food and you will lose some weight, but if you go three days without water, you?re in for bad times. Drinking bad water won't help the situation so consider taking water treatment along for the walk.
3. FOOD AND MORE FOOD
You can burn thousands of calories a day while backpacking, so carry enough food to at least keep you from getting weak. And have at least an extra day or two of rations in case of a detour, losing the trail, or an injury. Take carbohydrates as your primary content.
4. A RANGE OF CLOTHING
The weatherman isn?t always right and whatever he?s saying rarely applies to higher altitudes anyway. Dress in layers of synthetic materials when possible. Avoid *denim* and cotton, unless you want to weigh 100 pounds heavier when wet. Carry at least a lightweight water-proof jacket if there?s any chance for rain. And most important a good pair of shoes. More hikes end early due to blisters than for any other reason.
5. MIRROR, WHISTLE AND/OR EMERGENCY BLANKET
These items can save your life in cold weather and can help someone finds you in case of emergency. Three blasts on a whistle will carry further and prompt help faster than any yelling will do. The mirror can be used to have helicopters spot you.
6. FIRST AID KIT
Raid your own cabinet for supplies or pickup a prepackaged first aid kit. And when the mind is willing on Day 2, but the lactic acid in your legs won?t cooperate, try Advil or Aleve. Works wonders.
7. KNIFE AND/OR MULTI-PURPOSE TOOL
Army knife or multi-purpose tool. You can?t imagine how often you?ll use one of these on the trail. Until you go out without one in your pack.
For finding your way in the dark and signaling for help. Hands-free headlamps are best.
9. SUNGLASSES, HAT AND/OR SUNBLOCK
Sun/insect protection. Otherwise you can fry your skin or hurt your eyes if you?re out all day in the sun, particularly at higher altitudes. Repellents can save you from the diseases that bugs carry and keep you from going crazy from the buzzing in your ears.
10. YOUR BRAIN
Remember why you?re headed out in the first place. To get away - but be smart about it. The wild does know you and owes you nothing. The memories of a good trip will last a lifetime.
Here are 10 additional things you should consider adding to your gear mix, but are not required.
Lot?s of Kodak Moments on the trail. Take a lightweight digital or throwaway and get images on a CD so you can share with friends.
12. HAND CLEANSER
Waterless hand wash/Towelettes/alcohol. Keep your hands clean, and you?ll be less likely to catch something nasty. Keep the rest of you clean, and you?ll feel better, sleep better, chafe less, and smell better to your partners. Trick, if no water is available for a mini-bath of sorts, take cotton balls; soak in alcohol from small dispenser, and use to clean your face, armpits and groin area.
13. DUCT TAPE
Of small-diameter nylon rope doesn?t weigh much, but is handy for all kinds of things. Hanging clothes, food away from critters, etc. and duct tape is useful for everything from blisters to tent repairs. Hint. Don?t take a whole roll of tape; just unwrap a few feet and re-wrap around something you?re taking anyway, like your bug spray can or hiking pole.
14. TREKKING POLES
Trekking poles are a great addition on any backpacking trip; well worth the cost. Help in balancing across creek crossings; taking pressure off knees going up and down hills; looks cool in photos!
15. EXTRA SOCKS
Nothing?s worse than squishy socks. From creeks or sweat. Take 3 pair. One to start out day with; one to swap out midday. Wash those two at night; start out with third pair next morning. Hang others on pack to finish drying.
16. BEEF JERKY / DRIED FRUIT
Pound for pound, the best reserves you can have. Heavy, yes, so take just enough to eat up first day or two out. But your body will appreciate the protein from the jerky, freeze-dried food and energy bars.
17. EXTRA BATTERIES AND/OR SOLAR CHARGER
If you?re taking electronic anything. Flashlight or GPS, etc. Take some extra batteries. GPS units will burn thru a set of batteries in a hurry if you leave it on for very long at a time.
18. PLASTIC TRASH BAGS
Use to cover your pack or at least protect your sleeping bag if it starts raining. Also great to have to set your gear out on dewy mornings and then later to carry your trash out. Sandwich bags are good to keep your small items together and to keep things that need to be dry, dry.
19. FLUID ENHANCERS SUCH AS ELECTROLYTES
Gatorade is good on hot hikes as a continual light calorie source and helps keep muscles from cramping. Anything with caffeine is good in the morning to get you started for the day. And don?t worry about gaining weight on a backpacking trip. Eat sweets guilt-free, particularly while on the trail. The carb and sugar buzz will help you sustain energy.
20. HANDWARMERS / GLOVES
If your hands and feet are warm, so are you. Gloves take away that morning chill.
Remember that it is better to over-prepared because once you have left home, you are in the wild.