Safety should be near the top of your list of considerations
When the sun is shining, people want to get out and experience the great outdoors, but when planning a trip, safety should be near the top of your list of considerations. There are countless news stories about people getting caught out by Mother Nature.
The last thing you want is for your day to be ruined because of a lack of administration. Walking and hiking seem like pretty straightforward activities but there are still things to think about. This simple guide will help you pack for a safe and successful day on the hills.
Put simply, your backpack. There’s no need to take a huge bergan if you’re only going out for a day. The bigger the bag the more you’ll try to put in it, so choose one that meets your needs and go with it. You’re going to want something comfortable, with padded shoulder straps, and preferably a built in belt.
This will allow you to pull the bag tight to your body thus aiding balance and comfort. After that, you just need it to be durable and water resistant. Many day-sacks and backpacks have rain covers included, but if yours doesn’t, you can buy them quite cheaply.
Most of the major issues that novices encounter come from a poor choice of clothing. A day might start out sunny and warm but turn nasty very quickly. Shorts and t-shirt might look good, but they aren’t going to protect you from driving rain or howling winds.
If you want to stay cool, but still have the option to get warm in a hurry, you should invest in zip-off trousers. There are many types available, and they look just like normal trousers, so there’s no compromise on style.
Inside your backpack you are going to need a fleece type layer, just in case the temperature drops, and a waterproof jacket. If you think the weather might drop considerably, you might want to buy a puffer jacket too.
Many of these jackets compress down into small stuff-sacks so they’ll offer extra warmth without taking up all the space in your kit.
So far, you’ve got your zip-offs, …
So far, you’ve got your zip-offs, your t-shirt, your fleece, your puffer, and your waterproof jacket. Next you’re going to need to consider footwear. A dedicated hiking boot is good if you’re a regular hiker but they can be expensive.
A good intermediate choice is a hiking trainer. Either way, you’re going to need to buy something designed for the job at hand. Flip-flops and sandals won’t cut it and neither will your Reebok Classics. Don’t forget to get a couple of pairs of good socks.
If you have good footwear, sports socks will suffice, but if you’re going pro you can find plenty of branded hiking socks. Whatever you choose, as long as you have a spare pair, you’ll be fine. Sock quality is really defined by the ground you’re traveling on and the quality of footwear.
The last considerations, when it comes to clothing, are a hat and gloves. If you believe that the weather could turn cold, a beanie and gloves are a must. Your waterproof jacket should have a hood, so you’ll be fine with a normal wooly beanie, but try to get a set of waterproof gloves.
Simple neoprene will do the trick and there are plenty on the market. Basic wool gloves will be useless when they get soaked so it is only pertinent to have them as an under layer for a decent pair.
Food & Water.
You’ll know how long you intend to be out on the hills so you should be able to figure out how many meals that you’re going to need. A simple packed lunch will suffice but take a few extra snacks with you.
Chocolate bars, like Snickers, are good for a quick energy boost if you feel like you’re flagging. Don’t go too crazy with your food though. Take what you need and a bit extra for emergencies.
Water is vital for a successful outing. Try to take a couple of bottled liters as a minimum and more if it is hot. A good tip is to buy a hydration pack that fits into the main compartment of your backpack.
These hold around 3 liters plus and if you sip from it regularly, you extra two liters can be used as a back-up. Monitor your thirst and drink regularly.
Your first aid kit will vary depending on the difficulty of your planned route. For most people, a simple off-the-shelf kit will suffice. Try to think about the types of injury that occur while out walking.
Blisters and turned ankles are the most common types of injuries to watch out, followed by grazes, so zinc oxide tape, and plasters are a no-brainer. Outside the box thinking will alert you to some of the less thought of, but quite common, issues facing people exploring the great outdoors. Take some prickly heat treatments, some sun cream for summer and lip balm for winter, and take both paracetamol and ibuprofen for pain relief.
Finally, the most important piece of medical equipment you can have is working communications and an emergency plan. Keep your phone charged and take a spare battery or outdoor charging device if you think that you’ll need it.
Now that you have the bare minimum for your outing, you’re almost ready to go. All you need now is a good map, a compass, and a plan.