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Day Hike Essentials

Posted: 08/11/2018

Hello there my fellow outdoors members.  I want to write about the basic essentials for taking a day hike.  A lot of people really never think about it & they never think or imagine becoming lost either.  This is why I am writing this blog on the basic essentials. Whether it is a 2 mile or a 10 mile.  The items in your pack will differ from the mileage.

What to Carry in Your Pack/Water

First, the most important item that you will need is plenty of water.  I normally use a Camel Pack (Hydration System) pack.  Most backpacks are equipped with a hydration pouch.  The body needs an estimated 2-liter of water a day.  You never know how far the trail really is or the temperature might be.  The higher you hike up the more your body dehydrates itself.  Your body needs water for your body & organs to function.  You can only go 3 days W/O water.  The more days without water the faster your body starts to dehydrate & starts to shut down.  You can tell of this when you urin.  If your urin is a dark yellow then you are becoming dehydrated.  I have been sick several times & that is what happened to me.  I also carry a bottle of (water purifying tablets & iodine for the taste).  It's not tap water so Please take my recommendation.   

Food

The second most important item.  Food.  You can go 3 weeks W/O food.  Many people fast.  They have been doing this for centuries especially when Jesus walked the earth.  If you believe in that.  When your body is not receiving enough food, it will start to feed on itself.  If you ever watch the Discovery show (Naked & Afraid) the contestants always say, I ate a lot of calories & fatty food.  It was so their bodies could sustain the long periods of little food source available to them.  Of course, nobody ever starved on the show & I am sure that the contestants were fed too.  I usually bring trail mix.  It contains-chocolate, nuts, raisons.  There are several types of trail mix.  There All good!  If you do happen to become lost & you need to spend the night in nature.  You have some food to take you over the next day.   I suggest if you are going backpacking.  Carry Mountain House foods.  This is freezer dried foods that you pour hot water in after boiling.  You let it stand for about 5 or 10 minutes then eat.  Do Not carry can foods for backpacking!  I will eventually write a blog about Backpacking foods & supplies soon.  I am looking at going Backpacking in October if I can.  You can sign up on our website under the Colorado group that I have made.

Compass/GPS/Topo

This should be #1.  Everybody needs to be able to locate where they are, especially in the forest.  There are No street signs or addresses anywhere.  You should bring along a topo map, GPS & compass.  Bring All 3.  Don't rely on your GPS.  They have been known to malfunction or even break.  Your .00 compass from the store & a layout of the area will help you find your way back to your car safely.  Learn how to use one too.  It all looks the same in the forest.  You must know which way is North & South.  

Flashlight/Head Lamp

I think this is a No brainer.  Common sense...LOL Plus an extra set of batteries & bulbs.

Knife/Sharpening Tool/Blade

I strongly recommend bringing a (Full Tang) blade with a kydex sheath, not a leather sheath.  If it rains, leather holds in water.  Kydex knife sheaths have a small hole on the bottom so water can fall through if it does rain on you.  There have been many discussions on what size of blade or what brand.  I will suggest for you to carry at least a (4 to 6") blade with a grip tight handle.  Smooth handle knives are slippery & can result t in an accident that you can do without!  You get a cut & do not have a basic first aid kit then it becomes infected.  You’re in a world of hurt!  Yes, the smallest cuts can be your worst nightmare!  The knife can be of many uses, not just in a survival situation but for cutting food you bring, cactus sticking to your pants, whittling wood for a good walking stick ext...  In a survival situation the knife will be your best friend.  Uses-Making a Feather stick-shaving kindling for fire-Shelter building-Protection-Digging-batoning for fire wood & many more uses.

SOL/Survivor Bag/Bivvy

I have a SOL bivvy.  This bag is basically a temporary sleeping bag/Shelter so you can keep warm & your body temperature does not drop below normal levels.  Go to their website & you will know all that you want about them.  This company makes a lot of different products as well.  The company makes a bag that you can immerse yourself into & they also make a blanket that you can wrap yourself in.  The blanket can be used as a make self shelter using (Para chord).  There are different types of Bivvy's.  One type is the (Thermal Bivvy). The SOL thermal.  This Bivvy is rated as waterproof & can reflect 80% of your body heat back to you.  This bag is also rated as a rip resistant material.

Emergency Bivvy XL

This is the same Bivvy but this is made for (2) people.  This might become much warmer due to the body heat from (2) people generating heat.  Less roomy for sure but hey, you are trying to survive, Not be comfortable like you’re at a Holiday Inn.  LOL Anytime that you are lost with multiple people, you should come together...  Would you rather be shy & embarrassed & survive or freeze & die?

They make a normal Bivvy for just (1) person too.  They are all rated as, waterproof, wind resistant, & snow resistant & wind.  I have never used one & that is a good thing.  If I do then it will hopefully be for testing it out & for a demonstration video.

Next...Para cord 550

I would bet & assume that even Bear Grylls has carried some of this in his pack on the show...  I would say that this one item is probably one of the most important items in one's pack.  Para cord can be used for a multitude of sources.  It gets its name (550) is a lightweight nylon kernmantle rope used in parachutes.  I can literately be on this Bog Thread all day talking about this cord. Here are just some of the uses for it... 

  • 1 – Sutures:
  • 2 – Splint:
  • 3 – Sling:
  • 4 – Makeshift Stretcher:
  • 5 – Tourniquet:
  • 6 – Rescue Line (drowning/ quicksand):
  • 7 – Tripwire:
  • 8 – Tripwire Alarm (Primitive): & to tie down a shelter which I have made in the past.  To learn more about this cord.  You can look on YouTube.  There are countless videos with this.  There are about (7) strands of string bungled up in this cord. You can also buy a Para Cord bracelet.  They only cost around .95 or so.  Give or take.

 Matches & Fire Starting Material

This segment here can be a little tricky.  Some people might say here, I am going overboard & a little too far.  But what is too far if an item saves my life?  Exactly... Have you ever heard of the saying "I'd rather have it then Not have it"?  

1.) Matches-Fire starting material (kit)-Ferro Rod (fire starter tool)-Lighter.  Bring anything that will create a fire.  Stop trying to be the survival guy or hero!  Make your life easy!  Sometimes the old fashion (Bow-Drill) method just does not work!  Resort to what has been made & put out there.

The Fire Steel or Ferro Rod.  The Ferro Rod or fire steel that it's called comes in many different sizes.  This is a metallic material that can create a spark of about 3,000 Degrees Fahrenheit. The spark can be produced by making a strike with a metal piece that comes with the rod. Some of the materials:  cerium, lanthanum, iron.    Companies do make a Magnesium bar.  What you do is shave some of the magnesium off on the kindling then light it with a match, lighter or ferro rod.  This does take practice to perfect it.  A Great aspect of this little rod is, it can be used if it becomes wet.  You can even strike the rod using the back of your knife blade.  Never use the blade!  Using the blade will just shave the rod depleting the life of it.  This little rod is rated to be used for an approximately 1,000 strikes.  You might find different numbers online.  It has been suggested to use a long fire steel for more leverage & longevity.  I use a fire rod I purchased off of Amazon.  

First-Aid- Kit

I personally believe everybody should carry a make-shift First-Aid kit in there bag no matter how far you are hiking.  Especially if you are going on a 10 mile or further trip.  I am No EMT or have a medical degree or certificate.  But I still carry a small Med-Kit.

You will be surprised on how a little cut can create a nightmare of medical problems for you if it goes untreated especially in the wilderness where there is No clean water & medical facilities close by.

Here are some basic items in the Med-kit that you can store.  I use a waterproof container that I purchased at the store.  The main goal is too, stop bleeding, prevent infection & get that person (s) to the hospital ASAP!  This is what I use.  You can use whatever you choose & research more online.

So... Any medication that you have to take on a daily basis

  • (Gauze) for bleeding, cuts ext...
  • (Antiseptic) for cuts, prevent infection ext...
  • (Bacitracin) This is for cuts, abrasions & to prevent infections. Same as above.  For open wounds.
  • (Band-Aids) This is an easy one...No explaining needed.
  • (Liquid Band-Aids) This is optional.  It's good to have.  You might want to check on what temperature it must be kept at.
  • (Aspirin, Motrin ext...) You never know when you might develop a headache.  If you become sick or injured ext...
  • (Cotton swabs) this can be used for wiping a bite or Poison oak or Ivy.
  • (tweezers) For splinters or if you have glass in your skin ext...
  • (Rubbing Alcohol) For bites & germs.
  • (Splint) I carry a splint that folds up.  This splint can also be cut.  You can also make a splint using a bandana.  I learned this from the Boy Scouts.  You can also make a stretcher using your shirt running it through 2 sticks.
  • (Hand sanitizers)  I use this for Non-Emergency situations.  This is good for an all around cleanliness of your hands.

You do not have to get carried away.  As I stated in the above text.  This is called, First-Aid...is the assistance given to any person suffering a sudden illness or injury,[1] with care provided to preserve life, prevent the condition from worsening, or to promote recovery.  According to Wikipedia.

You can pack whatever you would like according to your needs.  WARNING!  Do not go off of somebody else’s needs.  You must pack according to your needs.  If you must take your medications or insulin or whatever illness you have.  You must follow that.  Do not pack excessively.  Just what you may need & that varies from everybody!

Clothing

I normally bring along a (light packable Gortex jacket) I can store in my pack. Depending on what country you reside in.  This can play a significant part of your trip.  If you are trekking through Alaska.  Some parts receive on an average of 16" of rain a year while other parts of the State can receive 150" a year.  Without the proper gear & the duration of the trip.  You will determine how enjoyable your day in the mountains ends up.  Always be prepared.

I wear hiking pants where I can unzip the legs if it is too hot.  I always wear a hat of some sort.  Do not wear cotton during any season of the year while you hike.  Cotton will make you sweat.  It takes longer for it to dry too.  Wear a (Gortex hat) if you can.  There a little pricey up too .00 the company (Outdoor Research) OR makes a very nice one.  I also wear (wicking underwear).  Do Not wear cotton underwear.  You will only sweat & create a rash & develop jock itch.  (Wool socks) is a Must!  You will not sweat as much as you would cotton.  Wool does not hold in water as much as cotton would.  Plus, they dry faster too.  I did develop a blister on a winter hiking trip.  I looked it up & the article stated that hikers should wrap a band-aid on their heel to prevent this.  Stores do sell a patch for blister prevention too.  (Moisture wicking shirt) You will still sweat, No matter how good the shirt is & who it is made by.  The point of this material is so the sweat does not soak up your shirt & secretes to the outside.  This material will dry faster VS cotton.  That's what manufacturers claim at least.  Look for Synthetic Fabrics.  You can research more on this topic.  

My Conclusion.

Go out into Nature & enjoy what the creator has created.  You must decide what items you would like to carry.  Consider the area that you are heading out too & for how long.  If this is a 3-4 days backpacking trip then you must pack accordingly.  Always be prepared!  I cannot account for how many people who become lost in the wilderness & never making it back alive!  I am very saddened & sickened by it!  There is so much material out there on how to pack, carry & how to find your way back to your car, camp.  People who are not acquainted with the outdoors do not take the necessary precautions to carry out a hike & return safely...  Every year there’s an estimated 2,000 people who become lost each year in the United States.  Let's cut that number in half or make it a 0%.  This is nature.  It was placed here for a reason.  Let's enjoy it!

Thank you!

My name is Kevin.  What I wrote was in my own words...  Here is a small video I made some time ago on Wilderness Survival.  Please enjoy.

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