Essentials to keep in your daypack

If you thought all you needed to take on a hike was water and something to eat, you’ll need to reconsider.

As your mother probably advised when you were young, ‘accidents do happen’. When you’re hiking, even close to civilisation, it’s always best to be prepared. Here are a few essentials that will help avert a crisis:

  • Take a printed map, as you cannot rely on technology always working. Even if you know the area you are going to and don’t expect to become lost, you cannot always predict trail closures. Other navigation essentials should include a compass or GPS receiver. If you use your phone as a camera or for GPS, you should also carry an external battery charger.
  • Sun protection is essential wherever you hike in Australia, even in cloudy weather. Carry at least SPF30+ sunscreen, lip protection and a wide-brimmed hat. You should also use an insect repellent and have it handy to reapply during the hike.
  • A bandana is useful, particularly a wet one wrapped around your neck on a hot day.
  • Wear layers you can remove during the day as you warm up. If you’re hiking late or at nightfall, you’ll want to put your layers back on, so make sure you keep them dry in your pack.
  • A headlamp is absolutely necessary if you are heading out before sunrise, or planning to catch the sunset on the trail. Consider taking one every time you hike, in case you become lost and are out longer than anticipated.
Even if you’re close to civilisation it’s worth carrying a few essentials just in case.
  • Everyone in your hiking party should carry a first aid kit. Someone may be injured and you cannot rely on one kit if more than one person is hurt.
  • A knife and/or multi-tool, as well as a repair kit and duct tape, can all be handy. Duct tape is a versatile tape for patching shoes or anything with a hole in it. Firestarters, ziplock plastic bags and even an emergency space blanket will all make your hike easier, particularly if the weather turns wet.
  • Water and food are essential. Hydrate yourself and enjoy a healthy meal before you leave home. You might feel a tad full before your adventure but you’ll feel lighter as the day goes on. Snacks such as trail mix, protein bars and sandwiches are good ways to boost energy during the day and take every opportunity to refill water bottles.
  • A whistle, paracord, garbage bags, paper towels or toilet paper are also essential items that don’t take up much room and are lightweight, too.

For tips on selecting hiking boots, click here.