Day hikes are some of the best, getting you out of the house and exploring the local area all well letting you go home and sleep in your own bed. What we often fail to do or I can guarantee you will see on the trail is people who forget to prepare for their hike. Yes day hikes can be very serious especially when testing your or your groups physical or mental limits as well as racing against Mother Nature of finding yourself in unfamiliar surroundings or situations. So hedging your bets and carrying some essential items can help get you out of a pinch and turn a “three went up the mountain one came down” story to “gee that sucked but let’s go get pancakes”. So when I carry items, I pack with the expectation that I am going to spend a night out there all be it an uncomfortable one my gear should keep me from dying or at least give me a fighting chance.
What I do is build my pack around some very basic items that I take every time no matter what, I don’t even like to call it a survival kit because I use everything all the time. Having a usable kit means that you know the contents and are replacing items regularly (hopefully from kitfoxoutfitters.com). Examples of what you will find in my bag are…
- Knife/Multi-tool or both.
- At least a couple of fire starters (lighters are awesome an emergency is not the time to rub stick together, it sucks).
- Tinder for said fire starter, no in a pinch dry tinder will not be there.
- Cover/Shelter like an E-blanket, tarp, or both.
- A light and spare batteries (I’m partial to headlamps myself).
- A First Aid Kit.
- WATER! As well as a way to procure more, if you can’t procure more bring more.
- Snacks, I’m a fat kid and apparently our bodies like salt and calories and science.
- Cordage, there is not much you cannot fix with 550 cord and duct tape.
- Navigation, map and compass (stop depending on your cell phone).
- Signal device like a mirror and whistle.
So if it isn’t obvious this list is not in any particular order of importance, I’m just sitting here pulling stuff out of my bag. As for importance I would say the most important item is the one you left at home so make it a habit of carrying all of your basic items all the time it becomes a habit and second nature.
Now that we have discussed the basics, I will go into the particulars of what I am bringing on our next trip to go snowshoeing since that is in like a week. From my basics I am going to branch off supplementing my gear accordingly. For environmental considerations we have to contend with the temperature but one often overlooked influence is the sun and dehydration for this I am going to dress in layers with a wicking, warming and, protective layer. The importance of layering allows me to add or remove while we are moving or stopped to prevent freezing or overheating.
As for clothing geared to the task at hand I want snowshoes, waterproof/ resistant boots wool socks (don’t forget dry spares), waterproof gators or waterproof “snow” pants as well as a good pair of gloves (when you eat it you do not want bare hands in the snow). Don’t forget a hat that will keep your head warm as well as sunscreen and sunglasses to keep you from getting burnt.
Now bolstering up our lets enjoy this trip kit I also bring a foam style sleeping mat this gives you something to sit down on without losing a ton of heat to the ground or snow. Space blankets are often the biggest “oh I’m safe I have one” false confidence items they reflect heat yes but if you have already lost a bunch you’re kind of behind the power curve. Have one but also have a heavier option like a Grabber All Weather Blanket for when the wind shreds your space blanket and throws it to the wind. Ok since we addressed that problem how are we going to get warm and stay hydrated? Bring a stove and a pot or cup to melt it in (tea and coffee is nice too). Hot fluids are good for you and good for moral.
So there we have it, what I’m bringing on a day of snowshoeing, I got it right now your like damn that’s a lot of stuff but don’t worry. The first trick is to go with someone who already has all this stuff and a clue of what they are doing that way you’re not in the poor house buying outdoor gear yet and you’re with someone who can show you how to properly use all this neat stuff. Coordinate with your friends figure out who has, and who is bringing stuff in our case we can lend or carry what you or the group needs except for socks that goes against my no lending underwear policy. As always if you have questions ask us. We are here to help you, Get the Fox Out There…Safely.