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Hiking is a great way to get fresh air and exercise, while learning all about nature. It’s something we love to do, especially in the spring when we have been cooped up all winter. The one thing about hiking that we learned the hard way, is that a pleasant day out hiking can quickly turn scary and become dangerous if you are not prepared. Once, we had to call 911 and be rescued after getting terribly lost on a mountain during a scorching hot day with my son, who was only six at the time. After that episode, I learned a lot about keeping myself and my family safe while hiking. One of the most important parts of keeping everyone safe on a hike is bringing the ten essentials whenever you go out for a hike, even a very short hike. I have expanded the ten essentials list to include items for our dog, Cookie, who we love to bring with us when we go hiking.
So What Are the Ten Essentials?
The “Classic Ten Essentials” list was assembled in the 1930s by The Mountaineers to help people be prepared for emergency situations in the outdoors. The group updated the list in 2003, using a systems or functional approach, rather than listing individual items. The Updated Ten Essentials are:
- Nutrition – Carry one day’s worth of food with you in case you end up stranded somewhere for the night. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, trail mix, nutrition bars, etc. are fine. Don’t forget to bring food for your canine companion also. I like to carry dried dog food, such as Purina Beyond Salmon Egg and Pumpkin Natural Recipe Superfood Blend, because it is much easier to pack. Beyond that, Cookie is important to our family, so I like to make sure she only eats the best. Purina Beyond dry food selections are made with real meat, poultry or fish, contain no corn, wheat, soy, poultry by-product meal, or added artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, and is made with safely sourced ingredients. In other words, Purina Beyond only contains the good stuff! Even better, I can buy Purina Beyond Salmon Egg and Pumpkin Natural Recipe Superfood Blend at my local Fred Meyer, because there isn’t always time to run by the specialty pet store when we’re headed out on a hike. AND, during the month of April shoppers will be able to grab an exclusive digital coupon for $3 off any Purina Beyond dry dog food online (when you get to the Kroger offer website, scroll down to “brands” and select “Beyond – Offer ends 6/29/17). You can learn more about Purina Beyond dry food selections here .
- Hydration – bring at least one bottle of water for each person and dog on your hike, PLUS, you will need need some sort of bowl for your dog to be able to drink the water
- Navigation – always carry a map and compass with you, even if you have a map and compass on your phone. This was part of my problem when we got lost, I relied on my phone for my navigational needs and it didn’t work well on the mountain we were hiking.
- Insulation – extra socks (wet socks are the pits!), hat, gloves, rain gear, sweater, etc.
- Sun Protection – sunglasses, sunscreen, sunhat, etc.
- First Aid Supplies – for the most part, your basic first aid kit is enough for your dog, but one extra item that is useful for dogs is to have booties in case your dog tears a paw pad or if in case your dog’s feet start to hurt, because your dog is not used to hiking.
- Fire starter – fireproof matches, lighter, flint and tender, etc. It is always good to have two methods of starting a fire, in case one doesn’t work.
- Illumination – head lamp, flashlight, etc.
- Tools – basic tools to help you in emergency situations, such as multi-tools, pocket knives, duct tape, rope (paracord bracelets are an easy way to carry “rope”)
- Emergency Shelter – a space blanket can make keep you warm or even be used with a rope (once again, a paracord bracelet is a great option for this) to make an emergency shelter in the event of an unexpected storm or an unexpected night outdoors
Beyond the Basic Ten Essentials
They are a few things that are very nice to have that are not included on the list of ten essentials.
- Dog poop bags – you should carry out dog waste (double bag it so you don’t get find any surprises later)
- Signal mirror – in the event that you need to be rescued, you may need to signal someone so they can find you, a mirror can enable helicopters or planes to see
- Whistle – a whistle can help summon aid also
Other Hiking Safety Tips
- Wear red – if there is even the slightest risk of hunters in your area, where something red or orange so that you aren’t mistaken for an animal
- Tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back – that way people will start searching for you sooner, rather than later, and they will know where to start searching
Do you carry the ten essentials when you hike? Have you ever gotten lost or hurt while hiking? If so, what did you do to get home safely? Do you hike with your dog? If so, do you bring the ten essentials for your dog? If not, why not start the next time you head out to the trail. After all, your dog is part of the family too.