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How to Pack for a Day on the Trail

03 October 2022

Before you hit the trail, read this list!


Back in the 1930’s, a support group for climbers and adventurers called The Mountaineers created a list of the essential items needed for emergency situations in the outdoors.  The list has been updated somewhat since then, but consists of the following:




    • 1. Navigation (map and compass)
    • 2. Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
    • 3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  1. 4. Illumination (headlamp/torch)
  2. 5. First-aid supplies
  3. 6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
  4. 7. Repair kit and tools
  5. 8. Nutrition (extra food)
  6. 9. Hydration (extra water)
  7. 10. Emergency shelter




Looks simple, right?  Well, how much fun you have in the back country really depends on how well you pack all this – and your translation of the above!



Let’s start with the navigation.  Firstly, regardless of how well you think you know the area and your route, these items should always be with you.  You never know if a fallen tree or stream in spate is going to mean you need to divert off the trail.  Of course, knowing how to use said items is pretty important, too!

Sun Protection

When it comes to sun protection, it’s good practice to use an SPF any time you leave the house, but in sunny conditions, you need to have your sunscreen with you to reapply.


Dress Warm

No matter how warm it is when you leave your house to get on the trail, always take extra clothing with you.  This may just be a lightweight jacket (men) or waterproof hoodie (women), but weather conditions can change rapidly on the trail and should you get caught out after dark, you’re going to need those extra layers. Incidentally, packing your insulated jacket in a netted pocket on the outside of your backpack is not clever – if a freak rainstorm comes, it gets soaked.  Ahem.  Yes, I have done this.

Extra Essentials

When it comes to a flashlight, first aid kit, fire starting kit, repair kit and emergency shelter, these are all items which may sit in your backpack and never get used for numerous trips, but you know what?  That one time that something goes wrong, you’re going to be so grateful you left them in your bag!


Hydration and Nutrition

When you’re planning the nutrition and hydration for your trail trip… overestimate.  Being hungry 10km from your car is not good.  Consider whether you’re planning to stop for a good lunch or just go with snacky treats that you can continually munch on.  Also, remember to either take enough water with you in a hydration bladder or flask, or take a purifying kit with you.  You never know when something has died just upstream in that beautiful crystal clear water you’re about to drink out of…

Something to pack it in

Obviously, once you’ve gathered all your kit, you need something to put it in.  Use a backpack designed for hiking, rather than your laptop bag or tote.  Trust me, it’ll be far more comfortable 5km down the trail.  Something like the Myers Backpack is perfect with various pockets, hydration compatible and wide, comfortable straps.

So now you know what you need to have with you on the trail, all that’s left is to get packed and get out to explore the outdoors!

By Laraine Wyn-Jones

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