If you are going on a real hike, not a just a walk in a park, but several miles into a remote area, you need to be prepared.

Prepared for what? To take care of yourself and your party in the event of injury, adverse weather, or delayed return. Preparedness comes down to 3 basic areas; clothing, supplies, and nutrition.

Clothing: Clothing needs depend greatly on location, time of year, and weather. But the basic rule is this, dress in layers, have enough of them to stay warm when you are not moving, and always carry rain gear. If you are hiking anywhere remote, you’re going to face changing conditions throughout the day. Layers help you adjust to them. And rain always seems to fall when its least expected.  Here is my basic clothing list for Spring to Fall hiking in the mountains:

  • wicking base layer (T-shirt, underwear)
  • hiking pants with zip-off legs
  • wool socks (weight depends on the time of year)
  • long sleeve 1/4 zip shirt – wicking or merino wool
  • fleece or compressible puffy jacket
  • packable raincoat
  • baseball cap.

In my pack I also carry

  • spare socks
  • ski cap
  • mid-weight gloves

Supplies: I believe in both being prepared, and carrying as little as possible. This is a list of gear to split up among your party, except where noted.

  • first aid kit (the longer the hike, the more extensive this needs to be)
  • headlamp & spare batteries (1 each) – More versatile than a flashlight as it can be used hands-free
  • small pocket knife
  • waterproof matches or lighter
  • compass
  • map emergency blanket (1 each)
  • pack cover or emergency poncho (1 each)
  • repair kit (needle, thread, safety pins, a small roll of duct tape, zip ties)
  • paracord – 10 ft.
  • sunscreen
  • bug spray

Nutrition: Hiking is interesting. Like any exercise, you sometimes feel very hungry, and at other times not feel like eating at all.  So the key is bringing a verity of food that is energy dense and easily digestible. It also needs to require little to no refrigeration. There are plenty of choices so I won’t go into them all here, except to list a few favorites and to say be sure to strike a balance between crying too much, and having enough to last you a few hours more then you expect to be out in case you run into delays.

Favorite hiking foods:

  • Trail mix of nuts, raisins, seeds, and M&Ms (only if not so hot they’ed melt)
  • Cliff bars – pack a ton of energy.
  • Lara bars – soft and easy to chew and digest on the go.
  • Honey Stinger energy chews – a quick burst of energy when you really need it.
  • Tuna packets
  • nut butter packets (peanut, almond, sunflower)
  • fruit cups
  • oranges
  • powdered sports drink packets – can add to your water when desired.

My brother and I also have an after-hike tradition. To give us the boost needed to drive home after a long day in the hills, we always keep Twizzlers and Starbucks double-shot espresso drinks waiting on ice in the car.  Not required or nutritionally recommended, just something that has become part of our ritual and celebration of a successful day in the outdoors.

Decide how you’ll celebrate yours, and get on out there!