As an experienced ultra runner and avid outdoor enthusiast this is how I prepare to be in the mountains.
We have very busy and very accessible mountains here in Vancouver which lead to a lot of search and rescue calls, often times to those who are just unprepared for the adventure they set out on. So lets work together to make sure we are prepared and ready for the known and unknown of our adventures!
When we head out for a run or hike in the mountains we need to know that anything can happen. Sure it might be a blue sky sunny day but mother nature has ways of catching us by surprise at the best of times!
Before I work my way through the 10 essentials lets just quickly cover the items that should be a given.
- Proper footwear! – trail running shoes, hiking shoes/boots etc. if you are on a trail chances are a road running shoe isn’t 100% appropriate. (know the terrain)
- Hydration and nutrition – please carry water and food with you
- Clothing – are you moving? are you outdoors? is there a chance of sweating? great then we should have athletic clothing on.
Now before we start our adventure have we told someone where we are going? where we plan to go? our estimated time frame? This is one of the most important things to do. If you don’t let anyone know where you are going… even the area you will be in, if you don’t return no one will have any idea where to start looking for you!
Okay now lets get to the good stuff!
These 10 essential items could save your life while out in the trail.
- Headlamp and a spare battery
- Signal device: a whistle, mirror or flare
- Fire starting kit: waterproof matches, lighter, fire cubes
- Extra clothes: rule of thumb if you stopped moving right now would you get cold? – hooded jacket, arm sleeves, a buff, gloves, beanie or toque, long sleeve, socks.
- Shelter: a space blanket or emergency bivy – emergency bivy is highly recommended over a space blanket especially with the chance of spending the night outdoors.
- Food/calories – you need to have enough food with you for the duration of your planned adventure plus to survive for an additional 24h
- A first aid/emergency kit – everyones is a bit different and the items in this can be personal preference, I include: medical gloves, bandaids, tensor bandage, small scissors, tic remover, antiseptic wipes, strap/piece of rope, non-adherent pads, gauze, medical tape, tweezers, safety pins (at least one), blister aid, duct tape, water filtration tabs.
- Navigation: a compass and map of the area, a GPS watch
- Communication: cell phone, a SPOT device or similar GPS communication device.
#11. Common sense!
Bonus extra items:
- Vaseline/anti chaffing lube
- Electrolytes/salt tabs
- Water filter or filtration tabs
- Bear bangers
- Bear spray
- Wildlife horn
- Trekking Poles
- Charging block and cord for cell phone and or GSP watch.
All of the items listed above fit into my 12L Salomon running pack and easily fit into a larger hiking backpack. Most of these items are lightweight and can be purchased in small, light backpacking styles.
Being prepared saves lives and eliminates the time of unnecessary resources. We can all do our part by simply, checking trail conditions online before we go, ensuring that we have as many of the essentials items as possible – ideally all of them, that we are dressed appropriately and that we tell someone where we are going.
I have also added some additional items that I carry with me depending on the time of year and trail conditions.
- Traction devices – spikes that I can strap over my running shoes or hiking boots. These are for snow conditions or they can also be used in other slippery sliddy conditions.
- Re emphasizing the use of trekking poles – they can be used in so many different situations from helping us keep posture up allowing our lungs and airways to be open while hiking to assisting in creating a shelter if needed.
Please see your local outdoor gear/running stores for these items. Happy adventures everyone!
Products featured in this post:
- Black Diamond Carbon Z Pole
- Kahtoola Microspikes
- MEC Spicy Hoody Jacket
- Arctyrex Norvan Gortex Rain Jacket
- Salmon SLAB Light Jacket
- Sunnto Ambit 3 GPS Watch
- CLIFBAR Sponsor – new smoothie filled bars
- New Petzl Tikkina Headlamp – 250 lumens
- RLAG tubular and beanie
- Katadyn BeFree Microfilter – 600ml soft flask
- Aquatabs water filter tabs
- Thinksport Sunscreen – 50spf