Hiking and backpacking activities are fueled by a desire to get outside the trappings of civilization.  The irony is that in escaping, we must take along so much equipment for our physical needs and safety, that we may feel burdened.  However, a pack is necessary even for the most innocuous of day hikes.

You may already have devised your own checklist of equipment.  If not, here is a list of suggested items for all seasons.  Depending on the weather, you may find other necessities to include.

Various outdoor organizations (Boy Scouts, Sierra Club etc.) recommend the following “Ten Essentials”.  These are basic things that EVERYONE should consider for every day hike.


“Ten Essentials”
  1. Map of the area…and know how to read it
  2. Compass…and know how to use it
  3. Flashlight or head lamp (spare batteries and bulb)
  4. Extra food
  5. Extra clothing, including rainwear (sealable plastic bags are great for keeping things dry)
  6. Emergency/Space blanket
  7. Pocketknife
  8. Matches in a waterproof container and fire starter
  9. Signaling device such as a whistle, mirror or pocket flares
  10. First aid kit (see recommendations below)

DRINKING WATER isn’t usually listed as one of the ten essentials, but nothing is more important to wilderness survival than water (or sports drink).  Take extra!

Additional items include:

  • Hat with brim and bandanna
  • Gloves
  • Toilet paper and trowel
  • Sunglasses

Experienced and creative hikers should think about adding any other items that may apply to a particular hike.

Adapted from an article by Barbara Murray, Chattanooga Hiking Club

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There are many things that could go into a first aid kit.  However, weight and bulk are factors that we all must consider when packing for a hike.  Any hiker who knows that he or she is allergic to bee stings should carry at least two “epipens”.  These are prescription items but can be a lifesaver in an emergency.  Also, diabetics should be sure to carry any required medications and glucose.  Bug spray, sunscreen and water treatment filters/tablets can be valuable for every hiker.

Consider the following useful items:

  • Antiseptic such as Neosporin or Povidene
  • Band-Aids
  • Waterproof tape or athletic tape
  • Roll of gauze
  • Rubber gloves
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors or knife
  • Benadryl capsules (for allergic reactions)
  • “Sting Ease” (for bee stings, ask a pharmacist) or Benadryl Spray

In addition:

  • Moleskin and/or callous cushions
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Sterile pad or sponge
  • Triangular bandages (for slings)
  • Duct tape for emergency repairs to clothing or footwear
  • Medication for pain relief/anti-inflammation (ibuprofen)
  • Medication for diarrhea (like Imodium) and nausea (like Pepto tablets)
  • Medication for heart attack (aspirin)
  • Safety pins

Adapted from an article by Susan Faidley, Chattanooga Hiking Club

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1. To make sure everyone is doing well and feeling good. If anyone is having a problem, we may need several people to help. This might include discussing who has a vehicle, radios, cell phones, flashlights, etc. Someone would be chosen to lead most of the group out, so everyone is not delayed, put at risk of hiking in the dark, etc. At least two experienced hikers would remain to assist the person having difficulty.

2. To make sure that no one gets lost. This happens much more easily than most people think. How many people carry a map and compass, and know how to use them? How many people carry a trail description?  We recognize everyone is an adult, but you may be hiking in an unfamiliar area. The Hike Leader should know the hike and keep you on the proper trail. Often there are trails where the blazes or pathway are faint. (In wilderness areas, there are seldom any blazes.) Not re-grouping and waiting for your Hike Leader or Sweep at all intersections, could result in a serious situation, with someone missing. In addition to club members worried and trying to find the missing person(s), emergency search & rescue crews may have to be called out.  No one should hike ahead of the Hike Leader or behind the Sweep without specific permission.  No one should ever take a side trail or leave the main trail for personal reasons without leaving their daypack on the main trail so that the Sweep will know to wait.

3. We are often hiking in the mountains or areas where we expect and hope to be safe. However, accidents, wildlife, weather, etc. can cause problems. We need to look out for each other.

4. Our outings are club (group) events. Consequently there is a lot of social camaraderie. Although we are a hiking club first, people return to hike with us because they do not wish to hike by themselves. The socialization that goes on is one of the benefits enjoyed by the group. Our outings can also be great learning experiences due to information passed on from those that are more experienced in various aspects of the outdoors.

5. Often the Hike Leader (or any member) might like to change his or her pace for a while during the hike. Additionally the leader might need to change his or her hiking position during a hike. Re-grouping allows people to vary their pace throughout the day.

6. Re-grouping allows new members to get to know more people and to feel they are really part of the group. Sometimes they may find themselves hiking by themselves – not really with any part of the group.  This obviously can be an uncomfortable feeling and sometimes downright frightening. Even if they are not afraid to be alone on the trail, they certainly will not feel welcome.

This material was adapted from an article by the Chattanooga Hiking Club.

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