Planning a Hike? Here’s a checklist to follow.

Summer is once again upon us and more people will be getting out to enjoy the outdoors. For some of us, we’re out all year around, but this list still applies. Make sure to give the following points some thought before you set out.


While Food may seem common sense, there are a few considerations when planning what to take. First off, take more then you think you’ll need. Not only should you take extra food in case of an emergency, but you just might get hungrier then you anticipated. On occasion you might be enjoying your hike so much that your 5 mile jaunt might turn into a 10 miler. Better to have enough food to¬†accommodate¬†your change in plans than to be forced to turn around. Also, if kids are involved make sure to have a lot of variation in your offering. Kids appetites change by the hour, be prepared!


Water consumption will change depending on the time of year, the weight your carrying, the difficulty of the hike and the region your hiking in. In the case of water – it is always better to have too much and deal with the extra weight then to not have enough. If possible, carry a filter and refill as you hike. If that’s not an option, plan to have around a gallon of water per-person. Kids will need slightly less, but it’s still a good idea to error on the side of too much.


Dress appropriately. If your planning to hike in the Fall, even though temps might be in the 60′s at the start of a hike, things can rapidly change. Here in Colorado the weather can be all over the place. On any given day you can experience rain, snow, sleet and sunny skies. In other parts of the country weather can be a bit more predictable, but always plan for the worst. If an emergency does arise and a longer stay is needed, you’ll be thankful you packed that extra jacket!

First Aid

Not only should you ALWAYS carry a first aid kit, make sure the kit is appropriate to the region/time of year you’re hiking in. We once had a serious medical issue in the heat of the desert and while we had a first aid kit on hand, it didn’t contain specific items to deal with heat-induced trauma. Also, make sure to replenish your kit as you use items. You’ll often use things like Aspirin, bandages and Mole skin. Make sure you stock up on these items before finding yourself without them on the trail. Tweezers are an essential item! Try picking out cactus spines without them sometime. While a seemingly a small item, they are important.

Possibles Pouch

A Possibles pouch contains little items you shouldn’t be without. It will contain things like, a fire starter (flint and steel), multi-tool, dry packs of Miso soup, sun block, compass, sewing kit, collapsible saw, duct tape, extra knife. Pretty much anything you think might come in handy in a pinch.


Always know your route and more times than not, carry a map. It’s a good idea to have researched the beta on your planned trip. Know what to expect (if possible). We seldom take a GPS as we prefer to navigate old-school using a map and compass but having a GPS is a good idea. If you’re taking a winter excursion in Avalanche prone areas, take a Transceiver.

Inform Others of your Plan

If something does go wrong, make sure somebody knows where you’re at. Having been the person who was responsible for organizing the Search and Rescue response for a lost party, it was critical that I knew what trail the group was on, their expected return times, etc. Had I not known this information – things could have turned out far differently. Also, if you have a cell phone – take it. It may not work, but it just might. While I’m a big proponent of self-rescue, if things get really bad and help is just a phone call away, better to have that phone in your pack, then back at camp.

Leave a Reply