- Field Skills
Before you hit the trail, take the time to make sure you've included the items on the following list to make your trip safer and more enjoyable.
Our list is designed to help equip hikers just starting out. You will probably develop your own checklist as you gain experience.
- Map and/or guidebook
- Full canteen(s), water bottle(s) or hydration pack
- Pocket knife
- Flashlight or headlamp with new batteries
- Waterproof matches
- Insect repellent
- First aid kit
- Sun protection (sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, hat with visor)
- Toilet tissue (in a plastic bag)
- Notebook with pencil
- Day pack or fanny pack
- A handful of zip seal plastic bags
- Camera and film (optional)
- Binoculars (optional)
- Supportive footwear designed for the length and terrain of your hike
- Extra socks
- Pile jacket or pullover
- Rain/wind shells (jacket and pants)
- Wool or fleece hat
- Baseball style hat (to protect from sun)
- Carry your clothing and food in different colored stuff sacks to keep your pack organized so you can easily find what you need.
- Always carry plenty of water. Three quarts per person per day is a good rule of thumb. Warmer conditions and/or rugged terrain may necessitate carrying more. Take drinks often to stay well hydrated. Filter or treat water from natural sources.
- Fill your canteens before you leave home. It is better to be prepared than to rely on backcountry water sources.
- Carry more food than you think you will need. It is better to bring extra snacks home with you than to go hungry.
- Practice minimum impact hiking. Carry out whatever you pack in so others can enjoy the surroundings. If you can, help pick up what previous visitors may have left behind.
- When you choose a hike, consider the ability levels of all members of your party.
- Hike only as fast as the slowest member of your group.
- Acquaint yourself with the area and specific trail(s) you plan to hike so you can set a reasonable timetable for your hike. Many guidebooks include estimated times of trips.
- Start off slowly to avoid excess fatigue part way through your hike.
- Make sure your vehicle is in good running order and your gas tank is full.
- Check weather conditions before you leave.
- Leave your itinerary with someone you trust and check in upon your return.
Winter conditions require additional gear. Please call our Outdoor Hotline at 800-975-4552 any day between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. EST for winter gear suggestions.
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