Sunday, April 12, 2009

Survival Gear Checklist for Hiking

Even if the weather looks good and you’re only hiking a few miles in, it never hurts to have a backup plan. Many unexpected events could lead you from the trail and it’s easy to get lost when you’re unfamiliar with the territory or unable to see landmarks because of tree cover or bad weather. Here’s a list of some lightweight and inexpensive items that may “save your bacon” one day.

Compass and Map
Essential to finding your way home. Know how to use your compass to locate landmarks and read topographic features.

Emergency Blanket
Hypothermia is a main medical problem encountered while backpacking. Use this to keep warm.

Black 33 Gallon Garbage Bags
Use these for all sorts of things! Great for makeshift rain ponchos, waterproof backpack liners, backpack rain covers, etc. You can even use them to melt snow for water! Bring at least two.

Usefull for building a shelter, hanging food out of the way from critters, making makeshift splints, and much more. I like the orange cord that you can get in the camping section of Longs Drugs or Wal-Mart.

Water Bottle
A wide-mouth Nalgene bottle is the perfect multi-use container.

Foam Pad
Essential to staying warm on a cold night. Can be used to isolate your body from snow when sleeping or sitting. Can be cut up and used for a leg or arm splint.

Folding Saw or Wire Saw
When snow covers all the good fallen fire wood, you may have to find wood on dead trees.

Head Lamp
Don’t ever get caught in the dark without a light! I like the LED headlamps because the batteries often last up to 3 days. On cloudy nights, you may not be able to see your hand in front of your face. This makes searching for fire wood, tending to injuries, or setting up camp almost impossible.

Marking Tape
A small roll of orange tape can help signal a rescue team or even keep you from getting lost if hiking from camp during snow fall.

Signal Mirror
I use a compass with a mirror on it.

Tarp / Shelter
Here’s another multipurpose tool! I like using orange 4 mil plastic sheeting at least 6’x8’. It can serve as a shelter, signaling device, or just something to keep your stuff isolated from the snow.

Use for building a fire on in wet conditions

Cooking, starting fires, hunting, building shelters, and tending to injuries often require a good, sharp pocketknife.

Flints last longer than matches and lighters and are not fouled by moisture. They are lightweight and cheap.

Tinder Canister
Should contain magnesium (my flint has a bar of magnesium attached), waxed cotton, small candle and 00 steel wool. These will burn even if wet. Essential for starting fires in wet conditions.

Good for attracting attention.

Toilet Paper
Euphemistically referred to as “mountain money”, know one wants to be stranded without means of taking care of business. Can also assist in fire starting and drying things.

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