There are days when hitting the trail is beyond just an idea, its a necessity for your sanity. On such days when a day hike seems to be the thing to do it is important to remember to pack in a way that makes it enjoyable for everyone. This means that kids coming along should also bring their own backpack. Getting kids used to carrying their own gear on a hike is beneficial for their stamina, understanding of what it takes to go on a hike, and for their own ease in getting in and out of their pack. Furthermore, its important that they even pack it themselves under your tutelage.
Here are the top ten things that every Southern California Hiker should carry with them. This list is for being out for more than 3 hours.
1. WATER 2 cups of water per hour hiking) If you are planning on going in the summer or on a hot day, pack a hydroflask or well insulated waterbottle with ICE so that you have cold water for the day. You can pack extra water on the side to add to your icy reusable water bottle.
2. SUNSCREEN- keep applying to back of neck, nose and cheeks as well as top of hands.
3. SCARF OR BANDANA- not a fan of those gnats that come to you every time you are sweating bullets? throw a headband or something that covers your ears while it wicks your sweat. This will help keep the gnats out of your ears and out of your mind-space.
4. LAYERS.. LAYERS.. LAYERS… You should always feel cooler when beginning a hike because as you hike you will heat up which will make you want to shed layers. However, keeping good skin cover is important, especially in hotter climates, so be sure your long-sleeve shirt is thin and flowy. If you plan on being out the whole day, pack a lightweight jacket just in case!
5. THE PERFECT FOOD- An apple, a bar of cheese, some peanut butter, celery, a knife, cold grapes, some beef or turkey jerky, a chicken-salad sandwich, and perhaps some chocolate? Packing something sugary and something salty is a great way to prep for a hike. Juicy and hydrating fruits such as apples and grapes are great to pack. Avoid packing bananas as they will probably get smooshed or make all your backpack smell like banana. Don’t forget to pack it in, pack it out.
6. A PLASTIC BAG- It always comes in handy, whether to collect litter along the hike or to separate your trash from the rest of your stuff.
7. HAND-SANITIZER- To clean your hands after messy meals… also to wipe down your knife after cutting your apples, etc.
8. A snapshot on your cell-phone of the trail-map. Don’t rely on internet to keep accessing your trail map. If possible, download the google maps for the area before hitting the trail. If you bring your cell phone, bring a portable small charger in case you get lost and need to call for help or access your map.
9. FIRST AID KIT- Most common injuries on a hike are bee stings, cactus spines, and cuts. Be sure to pack a benadryl of some kind, bandaids and neosporin, anti-septic wipes, and some duct tape to get those cactus needles out. Ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and eradicate headaches is always a great addition to your kit. 10. A FIELD JOURNAL- along with a pencil.. to keep track of animals and wildlife you see, to draw what you see, to press a leaf here or there. Pack your small field journal in a ziploc bag to keep it dry. And most importantly, don’t forget your stewardship ethics. Being a good steward means respecting wildlife and your surroundings.
Hope to see you on the trail!
By: Sama Wareh
The Art & Wilderness Institute Journalism Team are individuals who appreciate the world we live in and love to explore the myriad connections of all things in the world around us. We love to highlight the beautiful things we see in nature and to help others find ways to live with more connections to the outdoor world and the way it benefits us all.