When headed out for an adventure does your pack include these items that are essential to survival should you get more than you bargained for? In no particular order:
Headlamp – You wait to see the sunset from the top of a mountain and then are stuck navigating back to the trailhead in fading light. Bring a headlamp with working batteries.
First-aid kit – Your boot is rubbing your foot the wrong way – wilderness first-aid kit to the rescue! Know how to treat wilderness injuries including blisters, sprained ankles, cuts, or whatever other misadventures may arise. Contact a local outdoor organization or visit REI to find out about wilderness first aid courses in your area.
Sunblock – You’re hiking on an exposed ridge with the sun beating down, pack sunscreen to stave off a nasty sunburn.
Food – You were just going on a two-mile hike, but accidentally took a wrong turn and your hike turned into a ten-mile trip; now your stomach is making noises that are scaring off wildlife. Pack a couple of power bars – my current favorite is Clif’s Blueberry Crisp.
Fire – That accidental ten-mile hike actually turned into an overnighter and temperatures are dropping. Bring a lighter and fire starter*, maybe some marshmallows just in case.
Knife – So many scenarios…need to cut moleskin* from the first aid kit, turn your shirt sleeve into toilet paper, cut a length of cord, etc. A little pocket knife can be your new best friend.
Water – You packed a water reservoir* and bottle since it was going to be a hot day. Too bad the reservoir has been leaking since the start of the trail two-miles ago. If you don’t want to carry a water treatment system, pack water treatment tablets just in case you’re in need of water and want to avoid giardia*.
Insulation – You’re ready for the high temperatures, but remember nights can be cold, so pack an insulation layer such as a puffy jacket or a fleece.
Navigation – You packed a GPS to guide the way, but there are so many trees it can’t get a signal. Don’t rely on technology – bring a map and compass.
Raingear – The day started off with blue skies and birds welcoming you into the mountains with their song. Clouds began appearing at midday and are now looming over the next ridge threatening to dump mass amounts of precipitation. You can weather Mother Nature with a waterproof jacket. If you don’t want to shell out the money for a rain jacket that is actually affective – a garbage bag makes an excellent poncho, just don’t forget to make the head hole before you put it on!
Now that your essentials are packed, visit Backpacker’s online skills section and get lost in the tutorials and expert advice. Think you’re a survival expert already? See how you would fair with their quiz – Would You Survive?
Fire Starter – There are a lot of commercial fire starters out there or you can saturate a cotton ball with petroleum jelly. Wash out a film canister and store your homemade fire starters in the canister. Good luck finding a film canister these days though…
Moleskin – Combine this artificial skin/bandaid-on-steroids with duct tape and no blister stands a chance.
Water Reservoir – Think IV bag filled with water in your backpack; that’s actually how CamelBak, the leading maker of hydration solutions, got its start.
Giardia – Steer clear of this diarrhea-stomach-crampfest disguised as a water-borne pathogen.