When you plan a short day hike. A hike where you will only be out for an hour or two. You may not think too much about what you should have in your backpack. These suggestions are all small items and a good idea to pack. Being prepared doesn’t just have to be a boy scout motto. While not all these items are NECESSARY. If you do find yourself in a situation where you do need them -you will be glad you threw them in the pack.
1. Plenty of Water. No matter how you carry it – whether it is in a nifty water backpack or in water bottles you need about 1 liter per hour. Water will be your heaviest thing – but the good news is that as you tire toward the end of your hike you will have less water (theoretically) in your pack.
2. A Jacket. No matter what the TV anchor person told you. The weather in the mountains can be different from the weather in town (especially in Colorado). It is even better if the jacket is water proof. A jacket that packs well into a small area is best. If you don’t have an appropriate jacket – get a rain poncho.
3. Snacks. Make sure you pack something to eat every couple hours. Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches are great. They have the protein of the Peanut Butter. The sustaining carbohydrates for energy from the bread and the quick sugars from the jelly. Other great snack ideas are fruit, nuts, protein or granola bars.
4. Sunscreen. You are closer to the sun and therefore more likely to get a sunburn in the mountains. Taking a small sunscreen stick or tube of sunscreen.
5. Band-Aids. From blisters on your feet to getting a scratch it is a good idea to have a band-aid or two in your pack.
6. Insect Repellent. I recently saw a shirt that has insect repellent right in the fibers of the shirt (WhiteSierra.com). I can’t wait to try that shirt – but in the mean time, taking a small insect repellent will make your hike more enjoyable.
7. Change of Socks. You never know when you might step in a creek, mud, or just need to refresh. When you pick socks a great wool base sock is the way to go. Wool socks are comfortable and they wick moisture away from your foot (Your foot sweats). There are several brands that have amazing socks. SmartWool, Fits, and Thorlo.
8. Bandana. A bandana is a great and versatile thing to have in your back pack. You can use it to clean your hands. Get it wet and cool down by placing a wet/cool bandana around your neck. In the case of an emergency, you can use the bandana as a tourniquet.
9. Screenshot or hard copy of Trail Map. While you may not have cell service in the mountains – you can always look at a screen shot of the map. (There are also several great and small battery packs to give you extra battery power).
10. Other miscellaneous items that might be nice to have. Matches, small flashlight (extra battery), and swiss-army knife/multipurpose tool.