Essentials for Your Hiking Daypack
AMC Outdoors, July/August 2004
By Michael Lanza
What you bring on a day hike depends on where you’re going, how long you’ll be out, and the weather. No matter what the duration of your trip, always bring the following to get you home before dark, or keep you safe during an unexpected night out:
A compass and map of the area, to find your way there and back; a flashlight or headlamp, because it’s easy to get lost if you’re caught out after dark without one; a whistle, one of the most powerful distress signals available; warm clothing and rain/wind gear, to ward off inclement weather and hypothermia; waterproof matches or firestarter, for an emergency warming blaze; a first-aid kit, to handle an unexpected injury; a pocket knife, for its myriad survival uses; and extra food and water, because being lost or injured is bad enough without the pangs of hunger, thirst, and exhaustion.
Beyond these essentials, consider bringing at least one large plastic trash bag, which can keep your gear dry as well as double as an emergency bivy sack. The more durable and brightly colored, the better — the bright orange ones used for highway clean-up are ideal.
— Michael Lanza is author of The Ultimate Guide to Backcountry Travel, from AMC Books.