Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Ten Essentials

Essentials for Any Hike
What You'll Need  - The Ten Essentials
#1. Map
Even if you are positive about where you’re headed and how to get there, it is always a good idea to bring a map with you on the trail. A good topographical map, or “topo” is indispensable. Know how to read your map and consult it often.  Visit the Trading Post for map info.

#2. Compass
A compass can help you find your way through unfamiliar terrain – especially in bad weather where you can’t see the landmarks. With a map and compass you can accurately determine your position, travel cross-country and avoid cliffs and other dangerous features in the landscape. Global Positioning Systems are great, but beware of their limitations. Batteries go dead, and, in gorges and beneath heavy forest canopy,
 GPS units may be unable to receive a signal. Speaking of signals, a compass with a sighting mirror will double as a signaling device to alert passing planes or distant hikers in an emergency.

#3. Water
Without enough water, your body can’t perform as well. Drink plenty of it and don’t drink untreated water. Many hikers assume the water is pure and about 48 hours later wonder why they have a queasy feeling. Even clear-looking water can contain the organism Giardia Lamblia, one of the causes of “travelers diarrhea”. If you are not carrying the water in yourself, treat all backcountry drinking water with purification tablets and/or a quality filter.

#4. Extra Food
You’ll need all your strength, especially on those steep grades out of the gorges.  Bring more food than you think you can eat. You can survive days without eating, but you think more clearly and react more quickly when you’re fueled up. Carry more food than you think you need, even if it’s just a bag of raisins or nuts.

#5. Extra Clothes
It almost doesn’t matter when you are hiking, the weather often changes quickly and with little warning. The key is to be prepared. Wet clothes can be a recipe for hypothermia. Remember to layer for insulation and carry raingear even when the threat of precipitation seems remote. A lightweight emergency shelter such as a tarp or space blanket is also advisable.

#6. First-Aid Kit
It’s important to be prepared for a range of mishaps: blisters, cuts, scrapes, sprained ankles, among other things. Always carry medical supplies adequate for minor injuries and blisters, including sterile bandages and antibiotic ointments.

#7. Pocket Knife
From slicing salami or opening a can to cutting an ace bandage to rigging an emergency shelter, a simple knife is the most useful tool you can carry on any hike. Better still are compact multi-tools like Swiss Army knives. Whatever you carry, keep the blade sharp and rust-free.

#8. Sun Protection
No matter where you live, or what season it is, hikers need to be aware of the hazards of the sun’s rays. Overexposure to the sun can leave you fatigued, dehydrated, and painfully burned. Don't be fooled by the forest canopy.  A combination of a hat, sunglasses, sun block and the proper clothing can keep you protected.

#9. Flashlight
It is good to carry a flashlight or headlamp with you every time you head out for a hike. Although you may have no intention of being on your hike past dusk, it’s easy to underestimate just how long a particular hike may take. A light can be inexpensive, lightweight, and along with an extra set of batteries, pretty reliable. Headlamps have the extra benefit of being hands-free. Whichever you choose, be sure to find one that’s waterproof. While you may never to expect to get caught in the dark in the rain, it’s worth the extra expense.

#10. Matches and Firestarter
Carry matches that have been waterproofed or wind and waterproofed, or else carry extra strike anywhere matches—along with something to strike them on—in a waterproof container. Keep these matches separate from your regular match or butane lighter supply. Keep them available for emergency situations. Fire starters are useful for quickly starting a fire, especially in emergency situations. They are also useful for igniting wet wood. There are several commercial fire starters available: magnesium blocks w/striking flint; chemically-treated fire sticks, etc.

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