Wednesday, 17 March 2010

10 top Day Hiking Essentials - how to pack a rucksack

Taking a day hike on your own or with the kids can be great fun for everyone. Nothing beats getting out into the wilderness to soak up all that nature has to offer. Whether you spend the entire day in scenic splendour or just a few hours in the woods, be sure you know what to put in your backpack for a safe hike.

If you don't know how to pack a backpack for a day hike, try carrying these basic items that prevent disaster when the weather turns ugly or a trail mishap occurs. It's always best to prepare for the worst and take simple precautions for a safe outing every time.

Top 10 Day Hiking Essentials:

Backpack Choice - It may seem obvious, but choosing the right backpack for the day can make or break your trip. A comfortable pack hugs your back, feels light and does not become a distraction or a reason for a foul mood. Size also matters. A daypack that is too small cannot carry the essential items needed and a pack too big becomes an annoyance.

Water Supply - Even if you don't drink much or have access to water, always take your own supply. Never rely on other sources. Make sure everyone stays hydrated and keep tabs on who's running low. Start off with a 2 or 3 liter bladder and drink it down during the trip.

First Aid Kit - For scrapes, bites and bleeding, a small first aid kit with the basic supplies prevents a minor incident from turning into a major hassle. Either purchase an emergency kit (e.g. Ouch Pouch) or make up your own kit with band-aids, ointments, sterile pads and fever and headache medicines.

Headlamp or Flashlight - Always carry a light source, even in broad daylight. When a hike takes longer than you think or dark clouds appear overhead, that's when you really need a flashlight to get back safe. A headlamp is easy to use and keeps your hands free to help out kids or read a map.

Sunscreen - A few hours on the trail under a hot sun and your skin begins to turn red before you realize it. Apply sunscreen before your hike and make sure kids are well greased up too.

Hand Sanitizer - Things get dirty on the trail, so keep it clean with a good hand sanitizer for added protection when eating or after using the toilet. This also allows you to save your water for drinking.

Cell Phone - Going hiking is a chance to leave technology behind, but a cell phone is too valuable for emergencies and for keeping people informed of late arrivals. Even if you're not sure to get a signal, take it just in case.

Snack Food - Packing snacks and energy bars keeps your body churning for a long day on the trail. It's a good idea to carry extra food for yourself and others in case you get lost or hunker down to wait out bad weather.

Map and Compass - Take a map of the area or specific trail to avoid losing your way or spending hours on the wrong trail. Even a highway map is better than none at all. A compass helps you find the basic directions - north, south, east, west - to follow if the trail gets confusing.

Rain Jacket - Clear skies turn into dark monsters in a minute. There are several good reasons to pack rain gear, including keeping dry, staying warm and using it as an emergency shelter.

One more extra essential:

Dry Shirt - A wet or sweaty shirt is very uncomfortable and very cold in windy and rainy conditions, especially for kids. A bit of extra weight, pack a dry shirt to keep your upper body warm and out of the chill zone.

For More Backpacking Basics and Tips:

Discover more information on how to pack a backpack for overnight hiking, overseas travel and other outdoor adventures at, the premier site for backpack reviews and research.

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