Backpack Essentials for Day Hiking

Backpack 2

Courtesy of our Day Hiking Ambassador, Jan.

What’s in your Backpack?

While the snow covered landscape has transformed to dirt paths, lush green flora peppered with wildflowers, we are still thinking about snowshoeing in Colorado. Getting out this time of year keeps us fit for winter sports and is a great time to scout for easy access snowshoeing trails.

At any time of year, carrying a backpack with essentials is a non-negotiable. Being prepared for your outdoor adventure can be the difference between a memorable or miserable experience. Whether hiking or snowshoeing, this short-list has been refined and tested over the years and works for both summer and winter sports.

  • A map. If you aren’t familiar with your route, don’t leave it in the car.
  • Hydration – carry at least a pint for every hour but use personal experience as your guide. A tip is to pre-hydrate prior to your trip. My personal preference is a Camelback bladder hydration backpack set-up. With the easy access to water, it encourages you to drink more. Hydration is essential to optimal performance. An emergency water supply kit is recommended to include iodine tablets or a Lifestraw for water filtration.
  • High-protein snack – choose your favorite high quality bar or jerky. Select one with a decent nutritional profile (low in sugar, no nitrates and minimally processed) that satisfies quickly. A high quality protein source helps keep your tank fueled. Nuts and dark chocolate is a satisfying pack staple as well.
  • First aid – complete with Band-Aids, bandana (serves as tourniquet or dip in the river, place around your neck for summer time cooling), polysporin antibiotic ointment, moleskin for skin protection, powdered electrolytes such as EmergenC, pain meds and any other item for self-care that you might need for comfort. Leave it in the pack whether you think you might need it or not.
  • Survival kit (even for short trips)
    • fire making supplies – lighter, matches and emergency tinder
    • knife
    • flashlight
  • Sun protection – hat, sunscreen & lip balm– a must!
  • Extra clothing
    • Socks
    • Something warm for the summit or changing weather conditions, gloves, hat and a water-proof jacket. In the winter, a packable down jacket is a must. It’s very soothing when I have worked up a sweat during the climb.
  • Packable trail seat. An inflatable cushion for a little “cush” on breaks is really comforting.
  • Whistle. In lieu of a pistol, whistles are an inexpensive safety item to deter wildlife.
  • Tissues. Trash bags for waste. Always pack it out.
  • Cell phone and camera. Record the memory. Cell phone cameras reduce weight. Personal preference on this one.

Extra’s include –

  • Jet Boil & cups with handles for making hot soup or a beverage.
  • Thermos with a hot beverage. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve smugly gloated while sipping my hot coffee or tea while the Jet Boil is heating up.

I may add more, but I never bring less. What’s in your backpack?

Remember … leave no trace, and always protect the environment!