Whether you’re going on a 12-mile ruck, or a daily stroll in your nearby National Park, there are a few important items that you need to carry in your pack at all times. Generally, the biggest priority is to bring the bare necessities like extra food and water. You never know when an hour-long journey may turn into a three-day survival march.
First Aid Kit
You can either buy a first aid kit or make your own, but this is an important item that needs to be in every pack. You never know when you’re going to go on a trip and roll an ankle, get wounded from an unforeseen object, or even get bitten by a snake. Be sure to have your first-aid kit easily accessible and clearly visible in your pack so you can get to it quickly in the event of an emergency. It would also be helpful to take a first-aid class so you’re prepared for any situation.
During your hike, if you happen to take a wrong turn and end up lost, you want to have the navigation tools you need to make your way back., Nowadays, people tend to bring their phones and use them to navigate, but this isn’t the best practice. If you were to fall and break your phone, or the battery were to die and you have no way to recharge it, or you’re in an area with no signal, you may end up in a really bad situation. To avoid this, make sure you have a map of the area properly marked with terrain features. Another option is to use a compass. If you know how to use one, they can provide at least a general direction for you to head towards.
Too many times, people plan for specific hike times, and end up wishing they prepared for longer. They leave in the morning thinking they’ll be back by noon, but stay out until after dark. To avoid this, you want to make sure you have some sort of light source (like a flashlight) to be able to see when it gets dark. If possible, it’s best to get a self-charging light that doesn’t depend on batteries to work.
Fire Starting Kit
Even though no one ever expects this, you don’t want to end up stranded on a cold night with no way to stay warm. The best way to prepare for this scenario is have materials in your pack to help start a fire. Simple fire starters can be purchased, and they generally have user friendly instructions. Having this in your pack to help you cook food, stay warm, and scare away unwanted guests is always a plus.
This one is a hiker’s favorite, and you should never go on a ruck without it. A multitool makes building shelters, finding food, and staying alive so much easier. Spend some time researching which tools you might need on your multitool, as you don’t want to buy the wrong one. Some tool I like to have on my multitool are:
- Knife or two
- Weapon maintenance tools
- Carabiner clip
Some may think extra clothing will just weigh you down, until it starts raining like I mentioned in the last section. Being stuck in wet or muddy clothes for hours makes the overall hike unbearable. You can get really creative with how you pack your bag, so you can take as many clothes as possible. You can make a jungle roll with a shirt, a pair of underwear, and some boot socks like this:
- Fold the shirt in half vertically and lay it down.
- Fold the underwear vertically as well and lay it down on top of the shirt.
- Lay one sock on top of the shirt and underwear.
- Roll the entire bundle into a roll
- Place the bundle into the other sock and fold it over the top.
You now have an easy to carry roll of extra clothing that can be placed anywhere in your pack.
While some may think this is silly, I never forgot my bootcamp days and carrying a whistle during land navigation. This is a perfect, small, lightweight item that can draw attention and ensure your survival. For example, if you go off the trail and break your leg, you’re going to want to gain the attention of someone to come help you.
Purchasing a handheld CB radio that can monitor and broadcast to emergency channels is extremely important. You may end up not having cell phone service, and especially if you’re hiking in less traveled locations, you want to be able to call for help if anything happens or you find yourself in an emergency.
While this isn’t actually something you carry with you, for me, waterproofing my gear is a must-do. I want to ensure my gear stays dry, and can remain that way. One of the worst things to happen is when it begins raining out of nowhere and you end up soaked with no way of drying off. Now you’re walking in the rain, wet and uncomfortable, and your extra clothing, flashlight, and radio are wet. Ultimately, keeping your body and your gear dry helps you stay happier and healthier when hiking.
Extra Food & Water
As stated earlier, this is a must. Keep in mind, you’re not packing for just the hike, but for what could happen. Pack high-calorie foods that are lightweight and easy to store, and bring plenty of water. If you can, water purification drops or a filter is highly encouraged, as it can become useful if you run out of water along your journey.
These are my top ten must-have items to carry in your pack on a hike. If there are other items you think you may need, like medication, be sure to bring them along as well. The main point is to be sure to pack for survival. Plan where you are going, be aware of the potential dangers that exist, and know that when you are thoroughly prepared, there is nothing else you need to worry about. .
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.