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Hiking Essentials

hiking essential

It is no secret, that we love the outdoors. We love camping, hiking, backpacking, pretty much anything to do with the outdoors. When we hike, there is a list of 10 hiking essentials then we always carry with us on every hike. Below is a list of the items we always carry with us and the reasons why.

hiking essentials

1. Water. Camp Gear Center’s world headquarters are tucked into the mountains of Northern Arizona. Even though we are in the mountains it is still pretty much a desert climate. Water is the most important thing we bring with us on every single hike. The amount of water you carry is dependent on how much you drink, and how much you sweat. We like to carry at least 32 oz of water sometimes 64oz depending on the time of year, the length of the hike, and who we are hiking with. There have been times where people hiking with us are not quite as prepared and run out of water and it is always nice to be able to help them out. We also recommend a shatterproof bottle such as a Nalgene or equivalent so if you happen to drop your water bottle it doesn’t break and you lose your water. It sounds like common sense, but you would be surprised just how uncommon common sense is.

Hiking essentials

2. First aid kit. As a scoutmaster, I like to live by the Boy Scout motto of be prepared. Although I haven’t had need to use my first aid kit, knowing that I have one and that if there was an emergency, I could either help or have somebody help me with my first aid kit. Besides being prepared, there was one incident that led me to always throw my first aid kit in my backpack. I was out hiking and there was a older couple that was coming towards me on the trail, and the gentleman had his hand in the air as if he were asking a question. I noticed he had blood running down his hand and his arm. He turned out to be okay, but had I had my first aid kit I could have helped bandage him up and help stop the bleeding. It turns out he was poked by one of the yucca plants which are quite common in Arizona that have “leaves” that are literally needle sharp. Ever since that incident, we always carry a first aid kit. This is the kit we carry. (click link)

hiking essentials

3. GPS. For Christmas last year, my wife got me the Garmin etrex 20x GPS unit. I absolutely love this little thing it has a decent size screen that can show you the trails and when you start your hike it actually keeps track of the trail you Heights. There have been many times where I got off the trail, and I pulled out the GPS to find out where the trail was and how I can navigate back to it. I will put a link to the video I made on why I love this little GPS unit here. That way you can check out the video and not have to read all about why I love my GPS.

hiking essentials

4. Survival blanket. We are a scouting family, and the Scout motto is being prepared. A survival blanket for us is a necessary item to carry for a number of reasons. The most obvious reason is if you get stranded someplace and need to stay warm, a survival blanket which is usually a reflective material, will help reflect up to 90% of your body heat back to you and keep you warm. Another good use, is if you are in a warmer climate comma and you get stranded the survival blanket can be strung up to create much-needed shade. Survival blankets do not weigh very much and they compress down fairly small so they are not that cumbersome to keep in your pack. We have yet to need to use this, but it is reassuring knowing that it is there.

5. Signal mirror. Another small, lightweight useful item is a signal mirror. It is fairly obvious what this is used for. If you get stranded someplace and need to signal for help a signal mirror will do the task. A fun fact, a computer hard drive usually has up to 4 very reflective discs inside and can be used for a signal mirror. That is what we carry with us. They are super reflective and conveniently have a hole in the middle so you can aim where you want the signal to go. Again, this is another item that we have not used while hiking but it is good to know that it is there should we need it.

Hiking Essentials

6. Multi tool. A good multi-tool is essential to carry with you for numerous reasons. The one we carry, is the Leatherman skeletool. Which has a knife, pliers, bottle opener, and a number of screwdrivers. We have never had the need to turn a screw while out hiking comma but the knife, pliers, and of course the bottle opener have all been used. You will probably want to pick the right multi-tool for you based on the various things that they have. We just happen to have one of these skeletools and throw it in the pack.

7. Snacks. We always throw in a handful of our favorite cliff bars or trail mix packs when we are hiking. Depending on the length of the hike, you may want to carry more food than just some granola bars and trail mix, but for short hikes that’s usually what we carry. You never know when you need the extra boost of energy to help get up that mountain, or back to base camp. Also, if you do happen to get stranded and need to use your reflective blanket and or signal mirror, you are able to eat something to help sustain you while waiting for help to arrive.

Hiking Essentials

8. Fire starter. Again, something we have not had to use while we are hiking,  but always carry just in case we get stranded. While a signal mirror is a good signaling device to use, a small fire putting out a lot of smoke can work even better. If you happen to get stranded on a cloudy day a signal mirror won’t do much good, but a fire can be seen even on the cloudiest days. It is important to stress fire safety when building a signal fire, or even just a fire to keep yourself warm if you get stranded. Make sure that you clear the area around the fire as not to set things on fire that you don’t intend to burn. We typically carry a small metal tin that contains a flint and steel and cotton balls to start a fire as well as a lighter. Sometimes, the lighter either doesn’t have butane in it or decides it doesn’t want to work so we have the flint and steel with cotton balls as a backup which works really well.

hiking essentials

9. Rain poncho. Since we are based in northern Arizona comma the weather can change pretty quickly. Especially during the summer time. It could be sunny in the morning and raining buckets in the afternoon. We always carry a rain poncho with us in our pack. Like the emergency blanket, a inexpensive rain poncho is lightweight, folds up small, and is barely even noticeable in your pack. If the weather does happen to change quickly, we are prepared for it by having our Poncho with us. This is one of the items that we have used on occasion. And been very thankful that we had it. No need to spend a lot of money on a rain poncho you can pick them up in most stores for less than a dollar and trying to refold them while somewhat cumbersome, it can be done but these are usually a one-time use item.

Hiking Essentials

10. Backpack.  so we’ve got all these essential items that we carry with us on our hikes, but how do we carry it? We use a smallish tactical style backpack that has four separate Pockets or compartments to hold our gear. Any backpack will do, we happen to like this particular pack because of some of the additional features that it has. It has the Molle connectors so you can attach things to the outside of the pack, it has the room inside in the ability to put a hydration bladder in, the straps are fairly well padded and quite a adjustable. It does come with a waist strap which we don’t use as a waist wrap, but we do have it rolled up inside. They come in many colors and additional sizes, but this one seems to work the best for us to carry our essential gear. It also has a larger storage compartment for items that mean we may want to discard, such as a light jacket that we may be wearing, or extra storage for any other items we want to carry with us. This is the pack we carry.

You may decide to carry more or less, that is entirely up to you. This is the list of things we always carry. Usually, we carry more than just this, but this is the list of items always in our pack. What do you always carry on your hikes? Leave us a comment below.

54 thoughts on “Hiking Essentials

  1. Hey Eric, hope you are doing well… Good list, altho I gotta tell you… I may be “old school”, but not having a compass and USGS map of the area is beyond my understanding. I have been dropped by float-plane into the Alaska and Canadian wilderness and have found thru hard lessons that GPS units are not 100% reliable technology. You get ghosting of signal off large mountains and dense forest plays havoc with achieving triangulation with three satellites. I truly believe that learning to use a compass and read a topo map are still relevant survival skills. On the basic side, I would add a portable water filter to your list. Quite literally, having a filter with me has saved my life more than once.

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