The following list of 10 Hiking Essentials is recommended by North Shore Search and Rescue when heading out on the trails in and around the Lower Mainland and North Shore Mountains. Remember, even the best weather can change rapidly and it pays to take a little extra with you, just in case.
The 10 Hiking Essentials
1. Tell Someone Where You Are Going
Always tell someone where you are going to be hiking and when to expect you back. Leave them your detailed trip itinerary, and make sure YOU know your route and plan accordingly.
It’s easy to underestimate how quickly light can fade in the mountains. It’s a good idea to take a Flashlight or a Headlamp tucked in your backpack just in case. As a backup it’s recommended to pack a Green Cyalume stick just in case your batteries die.
3. Signaling Device
Keep a Whistle on your person at all times. A good one is the FOX 40 which has no moving parts to freeze, jam or deteriorate. Some newer backpacks even have a whistle built into the sternum strap clip.
When sending out a distress whistle blast do three short blasts in timed intervals of 1 to 5 minutes and in different directions from where you are standing as rescuers may be above, below, or to the sides of you.
If you here whistle blasts from rescuers it doesn’t mean that they can here you. Continue whistle blasts at even shorter intervals 1 minutes or less until they make voice contact with you.
4. Extra clothes
Even if you only plan to be out for a few hours it’s a good idea to pack along some extra clothes. Take along at least a hat or toque, gloves or mittens, a fleece jacket, a Gortex or waterproof jacket and pants and an extra pair of good quality hiking socks.
5. Fire Starter
Matches (water proof or in plastic bag) or lighter. We also recommend a commercial fire starter and/or a candle. Commercial fire starters can be purchased at outdoor stores like Mountain Equipment Coop.
6. Pocketknife or Multi-Tool
Although a multi tool is preferred, a good pocket knife with a quality blade will suffice. It may also be worth carrying a small pruning saw for cutting branches if you need to build a shelter or fire.
Large orange plastic bag and thermal tarp. Crawling into the bag helps keep you warm and dry. The orange colour is also highly visible and helps attract attention, particularly from the air.
8. Water & Food
Water is an important essential item to take before and during your hike. It’s recommended you drink between 1-2 litres of water before and carry 1-2 litres along on your hike. Hydration is directly proportional to your performance but also in maintaining essential fluid balance in your body. Keep in mind this is only a general guideline and may need to be adjusted for extreme heat, cold, altitude, terrain etc.
It’s also recommended to carry along Gatorade in order to replenished electrolytes that are depleted during excessive exercise. Remember to take regular short rest & water breaks to hydrate yourself during your hike so as to avoid fluid depletion that leads to heat exhaustion and/or hypothermia.
9. First-aid Kit
A basic first-aid kit should include a pocket mask; Sam Splint, bulk dressings, protective gloves, bandages, scissors and blister dressings.
10. Navigation & Cell Phone or Smartphone
Make sure your cell phone has a fully charged battery before heading out. It’s advisable to keep the phone turned off, and stored in a ziplock bag. This way, if you get into trouble your phone will be dry and have a full charge. If you’re using your phone to take pictures put it into Airplane mode to save power and post your pictures to Facebook & Instagram when you get home.
If you have a smartphone, you should also know how to get GPS coordinates off of it to give to search and rescue if you become lost or injured. Just remember, electronics can fail, run out of batteries, or lose their signal so also carry a good quality compass with built in declination adjustment and both topographical and interpretive maps just in case and know how to use them.