Hiking is not only a great way to get away for a short while, it is also a great way to exercise and work up a sweat. It builds your strength and stamina, and helps you to keep in shape, which is a great way to be prepared! Funny, how most things can be related back to preparedness in some way.
As you prepare for your hike, you’ll want to pack an emergency bag. Even during the shortest hikes, you could experience a change in the weather get lost, or sustain an injury. It’s best to have the necessary supplies with you.
Water: Dehydration can set in quickly. Always carry as much water as you can reasonably carry. It is also a good idea to have a way to treat a water source, such as a water filter, water purifier, or water tablets.
Food: Carry some high protein snacks. For shorter trips, you can take along energy bars or even trail mix. For longer trips, consider carrying a small backpacking stove and some freeze dried food pouches such as these found here.
First Aid Kit: You never know when you’ll need a first aid kit. On my last hiking venture, I came across a family with a hysterical child. The child had fallen and scraped her knee. Luckily, with some antibiotic ointment and a bandage, the child was fine. Having a first aid kit could help with something small, or could be used for much larger emergencies as well.
Map and Compass: You may be tempted to rely on the GPS on your phone. While that comes in handy, you never know when it will be out of service. Bring along a local map of the area along with a compass and you’ll always be able to find your way back again.
Rain Gear: Weather can turn for the worse in not time. Bring along a jacket and a lightweight poncho for a weather emergency.
Firestarter: Having a way to build a fire means a way to purify water, cook food, and warm up. There’s also something cozy about sitting by a fire. Always pack a Firestarter (and know how to use it!) for an emergency.
Knife: A knife can be used for an amazing amount of problems. By having even a simple one, you have the tool necessary to cut wood, rope, use it for food prep, etc. However, always remember to use knife safety to avoid having to use your first aid kit as well.
Light: Even if you plan on only hiking during the day time, you’ll want to carry a flashlight. The sunlight can vanish much quicker than you think when you’re in the woods. Having a light with you will help you to see the way home.
Whistle: It requires less energy to use a whistle than to yell for help if you are lost. Not only should you carry a whistle, but everyone in your party should carry one as well. Especially young children.
Shelter: You never know when you’ll find yourself stuck. An emergency blanket is lightweight and small, making it a great shelter to carry with you. It reflects heat, helping to keep you warm, and is waterproof as well.