Many hikers will admit that they sometimes forget to pack an important item in their backpack, especially in the spring when they are a bit out of practice. Every backpacking party should carry the Ten Essentials. These essentials are a topographic map, compass, extra food, extra clothing, firestarter, matches, sun protection, a pocket knife, first-aid kit, and flashlight.
Some of these are particularly important for spring hiking:
- Adequate extra clothing – It may seem warm when you begin your hike, but the temperature can drop precipitously on your journey and winds can be mighty cold atop ridges or at lakes. Bring clothing layers made of materials that wick sweat and moisture away from your body, such as wool or polypropolene. Don’t leave your rain gear behind no matter how cloudless the sky. Pack extra socks, should yours get wet. And consider investing in gaiters to keep your legs dry when crossing streams and brushing up against wet plants.
- Map and compass – Hikers should always carry these items, but in the spring they are especially important when hazards like snow and blowdown can obscure an otherwise obvious trail.
- First Aid kit – When was the last time you looked at your first aid kit? Spring is the time to open it up and replenish its stores. You’ll be happy you did when the first blister appears.
- Food and water – Hiking makes you hungry and thirsty. Don’t skimp on the food and water.