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Bound By Basics (Backpack Essentials For Day Hiking)

Posted on March 18, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Bound By Basics (Backpack Essentials For Day Hiking)


#1.  Backpack OR Hydration Pack

I prefer a hydration pack (A backpack that is compatible with a water reservoir) but a backpack of any kind is perfect to get you started up the trail. This is NOT a necessity but it will create simplicity for you and help you carry the remaining items on this list.


#2.  Water

Even if you don’t have the previous item this is a MUST have. (Obviously)


#3.  Food

Sounds easy enough, but you would be surprised how many people don’t eat or bring enough calories to sustain the workout they plan to impose upon their bodies. Much less comfortably survive a miscalculation for more than 24hours. (Bad Choice!) See my choice in Trail Snacks

#4.  Map

Again, sounds simple but you would be incredibly shocked at how many people use and rely on their cell phones for GPS, Trip Reports and Maps. Take a quick trip to your local hiking store (Arizona Hiking Shack or Hike House in Sedona, Arizona) and pick up a National Geographic, tear resistant, waterproof map.

#5.  Compass

If you’re relying on your cell phone for any of the resources listed above chances are you’re also relying on the cell phone’s compass for navigation. Bad idea. Learn to use and generously check your place of location with both the compass and your map. Don’t depend on the trail to show you the way. Know exactly where you are and where you’re going.

 #6.  Identification

Not only is it the law but also, it’s generally considered common sense. You may want to leave your entire purse back at home but, bringing some form of identification in your backpack is a definite.

*Items from here on out may belong more to the self-sufficient and/or when shit-hits-the-fan column, but as anyone from my team can tell you. I am the over-packer of the crew. You may ask, “Why” but I will answer, “Why Not"  *

#7.  &  #8. Tissue & Bandanna

Useful for many things, but keeping you from using your sleeve for that runny nose and wiping the sweat from your head are probably the most common. ( Perfect for bloody wounds and they're a great fire starter if things get real serious)

#9.  First Aid Kit

You don’t need a doctor’s medical kit but you should carry something to help stop bleeding, clean a wound and kill the pain. Sun protection(Sun Block) would be a wise choice as well. These four items are the most common quick fixes and best ways to get you back on the trail and heading home safely. I include a pair of gloves and keep everything in a waterproof container.

#10.  Flashlight/Headlamp

I prefer a headlamp and you can find them really cheap at your closest general store in the sporting goods or camping department. You can easily stop one too many times and get stuck on the trail after dark. No biggie, just grab your headlamp and push on. It’s that easy! (Bring extra batteries too)

#11.  Knife

Things happen. Without warning or any true mistake, things can happen. Having a knife can be useful for countless remedies. Bring one.

#12  &  #13. Tweezers & Fine-Tooth Comb

I live in the desert and getting caught up in any cacti is pretty common but those darn jumping cholla can try and get the best of you. Tweezers and a fine-tooth comb can help get the large majority of painful needles from your skin without causing further injury to yourself.

#14 Lip Balm

Sometimes you don’t consider the length of time you will spend outdoors while hitting the trail. Lip balm can help protect your skin and keep your lips soft and sweet but it also can help you start a fire. (They make lip balm with SPF protection too) 

#15.  Lighter

This should probably be placed higher on the list considering I have mentioned the use of fire at least twice now but , whatever,  just bring one. You don’t need to be Bear Grylls and start a fire with twigs and rocks just bring a trusty Bic and learn to use it safely in the wilderness

#16.  Camera

No one is going to believe you saw that black bear cub drinking from that gorgeous no-name waterfall. Capture it! (Make sure you bring the extra zoom and don’t be the moron that gets eaten by the mama bear!!)

*Always check the current weather conditions before leaving the house and always consider the summit weather being a drastic difference after 7k to 8k ft. above sea level. A big mistake people can make is not being prepared with the proper clothing. This can vary from, having long pants for over grown vegetation, to clothing for various climate conditions. Wearing a wide brim hat can keep you cool and protected from the sun like a baselayer can keep you warm during that shift in cold winds. Wear/Bring/Pack the proper clothing for the conditions you’re entering.*


#17. Nike Plus Watch With Tom Tom GPS

This is my watch of choice. I started out with my POLAR RS200 but quickly grew tired of wearing the heart rate band. You can find a million GPS watches on the market with another million functions, but the Nike Plus Watch with Tom Tom GPS  gives me everything I need while on route and I depend on my MAP, COMPASS and WATCH for a combined system of navigation. (This watch also has some really fun functions to use off the trail in combination with the online software system included within the watch.)

Last But Not Least

Keep your wits about you! Make smart choices and good decisions while on the trails. Staying on the trails can be the first and best way to do that. Also, don’t push past your limit-of-no-return. Being in the wilderness can make surviving a little more of a task at times, no need to be the example of ‘that’ guy or gal who senselessly decided to summit a mountain during a lighting storm or continued on after being warned of dangers you aren’t prepared for. The mountain WILL be there tomorrow and a story is much better told by the person experiencing it and not by the 10 o’ clock news anchor, who is undoubtedly going to hack your last name. 

Stay Safe and Adventure On!

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Live And Lead By The Leave No Trace Ethics. 

Do you have a child #MiniTrailTraveler traveling with you? Make sure they're prepared as well. 

Do you have a favorite go to item not listed here? Let us know. Leave us a comment and tell us what you wouldn't ever forget to grab on your way to the trails.

Disclosure: As with any outdoor activity you need to plan properly and adhere to all National, State and City ordinances. We only offer an insight to our own experiences and do not take any responsibility for you or any persons accompanying you on this or any outdoor recreation activities listed on this website or any other Mountain Matron Social Outlets.

Categories: Hiking, Gear, Travel

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