What Do I Need for a Close-to-Home Hike?
For a walk in your local greenspace, packing along the Ten Essentials may feel like overkill — but then where does that lead us?
Note to readers: We want to acknowledge that, as you're reading this, we are in the midst of a public health crisis. And while we know the immense value of getting outdoors, we want you to stay safe. So in addition for some advice on what to bring on any close-in hike, we're also offering tips on staying safe right now. As is always the case when you go hiking, you are responsible for your own safety. Your good judgment is the most important thing you bring with you.
What do I need for a close to home hike? WTA staff are asked this question often, and it’s a hard one to answer. There isn’t a definitive answer. Saying that you need to bring the Ten Essentials for a hike in a local park may be overkill. But we don’t want you to head out unprepared.
So where does that leave us? The honest answer is that it leaves us somewhere in the middle of recommending bringing certain things on every hike and letting you, the hiker, decide what your comfort level is. If the park is in the middle of a city and has cell service, water fountains and lots of people around, it’s extremely unlikely you’re going to need much to enjoy your time outside and feel safe.
Managing and mitigating risk is part of outdoor recreation and hiking. Deciding what your comfort level is with certain situations and locations will help you determine what you need to bring with you on your next hike. For parks and trails next to your house in the city, that might mean putting on a pair of good shoes and bringing some water. For a hike outside the city, it might mean carrying the Ten Essentials. These decisions will vary based on the location, season and weather, among other things.
To manage risk appropriately and decide what you need to bring with you on your next hike, try to picture a scenario where you might be caught outside for an extended period of time. Your distance from facilities and help (should the need arise) will aid you in determining what to carry with you. That might mean you need to bring an extra layer or jacket, or maybe it means bringing more food and making sure your phone is charged. It’s always better to be overprepared than underprepared, so we recommend taking a look at the list of the Ten Essentials to see where you might have any gaps in your equipment based on the hikes you’re planning to do.
SO, WHAT ARE THE TEN ESSENTIALS?
- Navigation (such as map, compass, GPS)
- Hydration • Nutrition
- Rain gear and insulation
- First-aid kit
- Tools (such as knife, duct tape)
- Illumination (such as flashlight, headlamp)
- Sun protection
- Emergency shelter