Does it really have to be ten? We’re not so sure. We’ve certainly seen a lot of lists that
include things we would never take backpacking.
Like what, you might ask?
Well, since you asked…
A lot of these lists include a big heavy knife. Why?
The explanation is that you need the knife to chop kindling for a fire,
ward off bears, and maybe look more masculine on the trail or something. We find that tiny pocket knife does just fine
to cut our salami and cheese for lunch.
We don’t make fires, don’t whittle down trees for fun, and don’t imagine
using a knife to ward off any wildlife except for the occasional dead
What about a multi-tool?
What is it going to fix? The
sleeping bag? The tent? We’ve used our sewing kit to fix all sorts of
things on the trail, and we’ve never found ourselves wishing we had a pair of
pliers or a screwdriver. And it weighs a
lot. Leave it at home.
We don’t take a cellphone on the trail, because where we
hike, there is never any cellphone coverage. We do usually leave one in the car
at the trailhead…but we usually have to drive at least an hour before we find
any cellphone coverage.
What DO we take on a day hike? Let’s make the list, and see if we get to ten
1. Water. Always enough to get to our next water
source. That's our water filter in the black bag above.
2. A first aid
kit. The basics (we’re not going to be
doing any surgery on a day hike—we would go get help instead) but it does
include band-aids, painkillers, an elastic bandage, a roll of gauze, some
antibiotic cream, and a sewing kit.
3. A map and compass.
We like to know where we are going, where we’ve been, and where we are. So should you.
4. Snacks. Because low blood sugar is a bad thing, and
makes for lousy hiking.
5. A bandana. You cannot imagine all the uses it has.
6. A jacket of some kind, just to keep us warm and
possibly dry. So that if we have to
leave someone for a couple of hours to get help, that person won’t freeze.
7. A mylar emergency
blanket/shelter—helps keep you warm, dry, and can be used as a reflector to
9. A small
pocketknife and nail clippers---because your toenails can cause you grief on
10. Some kind of
flashlight—just in case it all goes to hell, and you are still walking after
lotion. Obvious. Don’t forget it.
12. Matches. Just in case it all goes to hell, and you
decide to stay put until daybreak.
Let’s see…what are we missing? Bug nets for our heads, camera, binoculars, foam pad for sitting,
an extra chocolate bar as a surprise, a
Sudoku book—no, wait, that’s the firestarter…
Look, the main thing is to not get stuck out there with no hope and no help. Always take a little more than you think you'll need, because it doesn't weigh much, and when you do need it, it will make a HUGE difference.