By Dan Sanchez
Taking a day hike during the Spring season offers some extraordinary views of nature that typically only lasts a few months. Oceans of wildflowers and moderate weather conditions can make for some of the best hikes you’ll take all year.
So if you suddenly decide to take an outdoor trip during your spring break and venture out to do some day hikes, keep in mind that there is always some essential gear you need to carry in your day pack. Here are tips and gear that will help you have an enjoyable and save experience.
1) Make sure you carry enough water. If you’re one of those people that hand carries a 1/2-liter bottle of water you got from the visitor’s center, it’s not enough. Generally, most experienced hikers calculate one-liter of water for every three-miles. The amount would increase by nearly double in hot climates. So depending on the length of your day-hike you’ll need at least one or two-liters of water at a minimum. Hydration packs make it easier to carry water, or store bottles at the bottom of your day pack as they will be heaviest.
2) Start your trip early. It’s always best to start a longer hike earlier in the day before temperatures rise. In the spring, hot temperatures are usually not a problem, but check the weather in advance.
3) Take a lightweight rain shell. During the spring, higher elevations often experience sudden rain storms. A lightweight rain shell folds up small enough to carry in your pack and comes in handy to cover you and your gear.
4) Wear the right shoes and socks. A pet peeve of ours is seeing people slip or get blisters from wearing the wrong shoes. Flip-flops are not meant for hiking and some athletic shoes do not provide enough grip for more difficult trails. Get a good pair of hiking shoes that are comfortable and have an aggressive tread on the soles. Many are light and cut like sneakers so there’s no excuse about them being to clunky or heavy. You will also need good hiking socks that are designed to provide cushion, wick moisture away and prevent blisters. Don’t wear cotton socks.
5) Take snacks high in protein. Trail mix, protein bars, bagels and peanut butter, all make for a good snack that gives you energy and protein. Many experienced hikers take along extra protein bars as they are light weight, can’t spoil and won’t get smashed in your pack.
6) Layer your clothing. This includes an undershirt that wicks away moisture, a lightweight shirt, light thermal layer and a jacket or shell if it starts off cold.
7) Pack sun protection. Sun screen, a hat and sunglasses that protect against UV rays are essential. Even in the spring when cloud cover is often constant, UV rays still can burn and damage your skin and eyes.
8) Electronics. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged and if you’re hike will take you into the early evening, take along a small flashlight with a fresh battery. These two items can help you in the dark and guide rescuers to you in case of an emergency.
9) Trail map. If the day hike is longer than three miles, it may venture deep into wilderness. Even when the trail is well marked, people can get lost. It’s best to take along a trail map of the area that you can easily get from the ranger station or the visitor center. The maps will also point out areas of interest that you may not get a glimpse of if you weren’t informed.
10) Get a light weight comfortable day pack. A school backpack is not a proper hiking day pack. Modern day packs are made using lightweight materials, padded straps, extra pockets and venting to keep you cool and dry. Most are inexpensive and will be much more comfortable to carry your gear, food and water.
Although these are just some tips, you can find out more on what to carry by learning about the 10-essentials; a kit of essential items that Boy Scouts always carry with them on any outdoor excursion.