Day hike Checklist

hikers(122938)Credit: morgue files

There are great opportunities for getting out and enjoying a few hours of hiking either around your hometown or when you visit a new area. Groups of people are getting together informally with the idea of good healthy exercise outdoors while hiking and you can find them on the internet in such places as, that has chapters throughout the country. You can find out about outings planned that are appropriate to your age group or abilities, and you can call and join as a guest if you are from out of the area.

National parks, state parks, and regional parks usually have good hiking trails with maps and information covering the trails including mileage, time, and elevation change considerations. Hiking the country side is usually inexpensive or free, and offers a great day of nature appreciation. In order to have a good, safe trip consider these guidelines:

A first word of caution. Don't hike alone. I'll submit this quick story of what happened to myhiking boots(122940)Credit: morgue files husband one afternoon:

Paul liked hiking and exploring our area on the Northern California coast. He usually hiked with his best friend, but he was also was known for checking out areas on his own if it wasn't too arduous. One day he pulled off the road to take a quick hike up a trail he hadn't been on. The trail led through the forest and up a steep hill. As he neared the top of the hill, he got that "hairs on the back of his neck" feeling. He stopped and looked around to find two eyes watching him from inside a burnt out redwood stump. Two large eyes. It was a bear, and he was not at all prepared. He returned down the hill at a dead run, over logs and through thick brush, returning home scratched and bruised, with a real lesson in his pocket!

Anyway, back to the point of this article. When out on a day hike it's a good idea to dress appropriately and carry a small day pack.


Wear layers of clothing; long pants, good hiking shoes/boots with good socks, a t-shirt, long sleeved shirt, sweater or coat if appropriate. Consider either a hat, cap, or ski cap if it's cold or if it will get cold late in the afternoon. Sunglasses around your neck and gloves in your pocket round out your attire without making you appear too much of a geek.

Day pack

These items will pretty much ensure your comfort and safety when out for a hike for the day:

  • Day pack-this is a small back pack that neatly carries all the small items suggested below.  compass(122939)Credit: morgue filesDay packs can be purchased for about $30-$40 at most sport stores.
  • Map or guidebook of your route
  • Metal water bottle. It won't break if you fall and usually fits on a side pouch of the day pack
  • A couple of energy bars
  • A few band aids, an emergency sling and antiseptic wipes
  • A compact rain poncho
  • A "space blanket"
  • A lighter and fire sticks (or cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly and in a zip-lock)
  • Extra socks
  • A good knife ("Leatherman" or "Swiss Army" will get you through most situations)
  • A plastic whistle
  • A windup flashlight
  • Cell phone (hopefully you can get reception)
  • Compass (Do Not omit this item-I have other stories of lessons I have learned)
  • Adhesive tape and gauze
  • Chem tablets for emergency water purification
  • An index card with your personal information and contact person
  • A bandanna
  • Extra socks
  • Chap stick and insect repellent (although not crucial, awfully nice if you need them)

hikerCredit: morgue filesThese items are small and light-weight and should fit in the day pack. With them you should be ready to fend for yourself out in the wilds if something goes wrong, or just for your peace-of-mind.

One last thing. Do be able to read a map and use a compass. And if you are in an unfamiliar area let the park ranger know you are going out, or give a call to a friend or relative and set a time to check back in with them; you can keep it light. If you are prepared, all should go well and you can relax and have a fun day out!