Hiking Basics, What to carry for a Day Hike

Thus begins my blog, for the second time round. The following post covers what to carry for a day hike to be completely prepared. The list covers mandatory and suggested extras, I am a very “prepared” person, you will see this when you read a bit more below.

So you have begun thinking about camping and hiking, you’ve gotten excited you have found a place to go, you have started packing and suddenly you realise, I have no idea what needs to go in this pack…

Take a deep breath, and hold, this will help you with your altitude training. While I’m kidding, (it will help though) you might find it easier to read what I have put together as a list that people can use to check against. Before you scoff, I have been doing this since I was a Cub Scout, and yes I’ll admit, I dibbed and dobbed but I still use a list to check fifteen years later, because otherwise, you end up on the top of North Jawbone peak without toilet paper. For me last week; it was a tea-towel, You should be so lucky!

To begin I would recommend Day hikes, this gets you used to walking with some weight, some gradient and some distance without slamming you with all three at once followed by no choice but to do exactly the same again the next day. By doing day hikes, you can still experience the scenery and most of the same breath-taking views, without having to “Dig a hole” or carry a pack up a mountain to stay the night. They are also less equipment intensive, which means you can decide if you like spending time outdoors before spending too much money on gear.

For a day hike, I would recommend packing and checking the following:

I plan to create a link for pretty much everything below, but give me time…

The Mandatory items and checklist:

  • Make sure that you have appropriate footwear (No, thongs are not “appropriate in summer”)
  • Carry enough water, plus a little more and a snack, Muesli bar and/ or Mars bars are great.
  • Sun-Screen; Definitely apply before Hiking anywhere in Australia even if you don’t carry it.
  • Know the weather forecast; re-evaluate on the day. The BOM doesn’t have a shiny track record.
  • Always carry wet weather gear, no matter how hot and sunny it feels. (Obvious exceptions apply)
  • Always carry a Basic First Aid Kit
  • Do not walk alone. Ever.
  • Make the Slowest walker stay in front (This keeps the group together)
  • Tell somebody who is not going with you, where you are going. This can be a good time to call your Mother, as you are most likely going out of phone service soon!

Some precautionary/non-mandatory extras:

  • Carry a Head Lamp / Torch (In case you get stuck out later than you mean to)
  • Matches
  • Compass (Know how to use it!)
  • Bug repellent
  • Carry a Map or stay on marked trails (Later, when doing less walked routes, carrying a map is a mandatory not just a good idea!)

6 Responses to Hiking Basics, What to carry for a Day Hike

  1. Never walk alone,?
    With todays epirbs you have to be kidding,
    On that logic one would never do a solo parachute jump,etc,or solo sailing,etc,
    Its far more dangerous to walk from braybrook,across to sunshine after midnight,than to cross from harritville to mt bogong..
    Not every one has the need or luxury or desire to walk with a group.
    On what basis do you make the claim,-never walk alone.

    • Hi Darren,

      First of all; I would probably agree with you; it probably is more dangerous to walk through the suburbs after midnight; though I have no evidence either way. However I do know that the whole time you are walking in the suburbs, if you do fall and break your ankle, there are support mechanisms available to somebody walking alone. Those mechanisms are not necessarily available trekking up what is some of the tougher terrain in the state.

      To be so arrogant as to consider that all hikers are of an advanced enough level to even know what an Epirb is, is your first mistake. I have never heard of a sky diving organisation that allows people to Solo Jump on their first jump or even the first tens. Why? Inexperience; without the practice and structure of repetition to kick in when panic hits, the diver might freeze and be solo dead. The same is true for Solo Sailing, it too is incredibly dangerous; and certainly not the kind of thing you would do without experience. I am a SCUBA diver, I could probably Solo dive without issue, but I wont, because I am just not experienced enough and don’t have enough training to do so safely.

      This article is aimed at beginners; so everything I write has to address even the greenest of hikers.
      As an information provider, I feel that its my responsibility to make the hobby approachable for first-timers. In this light, I felt it was more reasonable to make the hard and fast statement of don’t walk alone, rather than “Don’t walk alone except when you’re carrying an emergency beacon”. Reliable emergency beacons can cost from over a hundred to several hundred dollars, typically when most people are starting a sport or hobby they compromise on equipment until they are sure they want to do it regularly. I can almost guarantee that an epirb is one of the things that they will avoid buying early on. Which could be a fatal mistake.
      It is far more likely that a reader would be able to find somebody to go hiking with, and this way, not only can they enjoy the sport together but they can help ensure each-others safety. Yes, there are times for Solo hiking with the right knowledge and experience, but this time ia not as a green beginner.

      Secondly those emergency beacons cost thousands of dollars to the public every time they get set off, not to mention the time resources those emergency services could use for other things and people seem to forget that. They would never fault you for setting one off, thats what they are for, and I must stress that I feel they have their place and you should never hesitate to set one off in a real emergency.
      I carry one on long hikes, but I would only use it if there were no other options. I can guarantee that there are many cases where epribs are set off, where users were in situations that they could have gotten themselves out of with a partner.

      To quickly address it again: / ~tldr
      It’s a post for hiking beginners, and as such; I have geared the advice toward the lowest level of experience to ensure safety for all.

  2. In Bens defense, the phrase “never hike alone” can mean various things.

    I do like hiking with and without a companion, and even when I am “without a walking companion” I am still never hiking alone. I always remain in contact with someone, whether its a note with a travel route and timeframe left with someone who cares, or active handheld radio or emergency GPS beacon.

    So while I may have no one around me at a point in time, I never hike alone. Someone can always find me in an emergency, and for the inevitable comment about hitting your head and help coming too late … Well, if you don’t like hiking (and all the stuff that comes with it), there are much safer activities indoors.

    • Cam, FYI there are 2-way radios that have what is basically a tilt sensor. If the operator falls down / is knocked down and stays down, the radio sets of an emergency beacon. This was designed for security guards doing solo rounds, so that should they be knocked out, the sensor will go off and a back-to-base alarm will go off after an arbitrary time. – I imagine that with a little research, you might be able to alter this to work for you in a bushwalking context.

      Getting a product idea here!

  3. Points taken,
    Did not realise it was a guide for new hikers.
    What i have found in life,is that people will fail you at times when you least expect it,
    At the end of the day,and not if but when the shit hits the fan,
    You only have your self to rely on.
    Its the ten mates in a fight thing,-
    but on your own,bush,city,ocean,snow,-thats when a person truly finds what he has,?
    Happy trails.

    • Thanks for the response; Sure I agree that when it really hits the fan, sometimes you need to rely on just your self, but whenever I have been in a rough spot and had a friend there with me, it always makes things a lot easier. Quite often stong self-reliant people are so used to looking after themselves, they forget how to work with and rely on others, I think sometimes its very important to let somebody else help you; even if you could do it yourself (more generally speaking, than in a survival situation – although, waiting to be rescued has its own merits, but thats another story for another time!).

      I think you caught me on a bad day, Looking back my reply seems a little bit grumpy!

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