I went to a talk by a Search and Rescue organization leader and he talked about what ten 10 essentials you should carry on you no matter the hike. Here's what he said the ten (plus one) essentials are:
- Navigation: A map and compass
- Sun Protection: Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Extra clothing
- First aid kit
- Fire starting gear
- Insulation and tarp (so you're not sitting on the cold ground. And so you can stay warm.)
- Fully charged cell phone and a portable charger
I will admit, I don't own a compass. But it's on my list to get after this talk. And while I rarely have a physical map on hikes, I do usually take a screenshot of the map online before going out. I've always got sunglasses with me, but I don't bring sunscreen. It's something that I'll start to store in my pack for when I go out.
I will bring my headlamp, and it's a fine one for now, but at some point I'd like to invest in a better one. I don't have a real first aid kit, I'll usually just bring a few basics when I go out like chafing cream and bandages, but I've been looking around at REI and have been trying to decide between the Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight/Watertight .5 First-Aid Kit and the Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight/Watertight .7 First-Aid Kit.
For fire-starting gear I'll either get a strike lighter or some waterproof matches. I always carry extra food and water, and my Swiss Army Knife, but I may also get a simple Swiss Army Knife to keep in the first-aid kit, just in case. And finally, I'm going to get this survival blanket for insulation.
I use my phone for pictures on hikes and can really run the battery down. I try to take a portable charger with me, but it keeps on getting misplaced, and on top of that, the battery doesn't hold a charge like it used to.
All of this will add some weight and bulk to my pack, but it'll completely be worth it if I need it.
What are your favorite hiking basics?