A light – Flashlight or a headlamp with extra batteries (and light bulb if not LED). Green Cyalume stick or small turtle lights as emergency backup.
Signalling Device– Whistle (NSR the Fox 40 whistle with a lanyard), Bear Bangers, Pencil Flare
Fire Starter – Matches (waterproof or in a plastic bag) or lighter. NSR also recommend a commercial firestarter and/or a candle. Commercial firestarters can be purchased at outdoor stores like Mountain Equipment Co-op.
Warm clothes – Hat or toque, gloves or mittens, puffy jacket, Gortex jacket, polypro underwear, good quality hiking socks, and Gortex over pants.
Pocketknife – Although a multi-tool is preferred, a good pocket knife with a quality blade will suffice. It may also be worth carrying a small pruning saw for cutting branches when building a shelter or fire.
Shelter – Large orange plastic bag and thermal tarp.
Water and food – Gatorade crystals and high energy food bars are recommended
First aid kit – Should include pocket mask; Sam Splint, bulk dressings, protective gloves, bandage, scissors, and blister dressings
Navigation – Good quality compass with built-in declination adjustment and both topographical and interpretive maps. NSR also recommend a GPS unit but only as an adjunct to compass and map. Most team members carry a Garmin 60 series GPS unit that has terrific reception in the trees.
Cell phone for communication – NSR recommends you bring a cell phone with a fully charged battery. It is advisable to keep the phone turned off, and stored in a ziplock bag. This way, if you get into trouble your phone will be dry and have a full charge. If you have a smartphone, you should also know how to get GPS coordinates off of it to give to search and rescue if you become lost or injured (eg. MotionX or iPhone compass app). Depending on the terrain and difficulty of your excursion, it may also be worth considering satellite-based communications devices like the Spot, Delorme InReach, or a Personal Locator Beacon.
This may seem like an extensive list but NSR says these are basic supplies.
“This list is NOT exhaustive – it is just a start – add to this list according to the season and your route,” said NSR on its website.
The search and rescue organization also reminds hikers that they wear appropriate hiking gear. This means NO runners or flip-flops (yes, there are people who take to trails with flip-flops).
Proper hiking shoes are a must, as is non-cotton clothing, such as hiking pants, poly-pro shirt, poly-pro underwear, toque, and backpack.
It is also important to notify a reliable person of where you will be hiking, and provide them with a trip itinerary.
Simran is a Staff Writer at Daily Hive. She enjoys writing about culture, society, and politics. In her spare time, she drinks too much coffee and listens to a lot of Beyoncé. Have a story idea? Email her: [email protected]