Now that you have a hike picked out and the proper pass the next step is to figure out what to bring. You may notice that more experienced hikers bring less gear having the experience to predict what they will and won’t need to bring for each outing.
Light layers for 3 season hiking/mountain running
The 10 essentials is a good place to start
Here are my notes on the 10 Essentials and Systems that can help ensure you bring what you need and not a lot of extras.
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• Navigation – map and compass, GPS or mobile device with a photo of the map can save some packing space, be aware that mobile phone reception will be limited or non existent on most of these hikes.
• Sun protection – Sunglasses, sunscreen – face stick or derma-tone will work well for nose cheeks and ears, many hikes in this region offer shelter from the sun while hiking along mountain streams.
• Insulation – The given season that you are hiking in will determine what you will need to pack for clothing. The other factor that I pay close attention to is exertion levels. In the winter wearing layers of skin tight wicking fibers (tights or long johns with insulation and shell layers on top will allow for comfortable movement in different states of exertion. For example once warmed up I don’t require more than a pair of tights (and wind briefs) for skate skiing because I will be working hard and producing a lot of body head as a result. Having dry warm layers to put on when resting or changing pace (like a light weight down puffy) is a good way to stay warm when expending less energy (heat). In the shoulder seasons an insulated poly pro t-shirt with removable arm sleeves is a great way to have layering flexibly without requiring bringing more garments than what you will end up using. Knowing what is comfortable to move in at different times of year in different conditions will take some practice. If I am going to be trail running in the rain I often won’t bother packing a rain shell because it will end up soaking wet on the inside and out. It is a good practice when emptying your pack after a trip to take inventory of what clothing you used and didn’t use. Factor your learning into the next trip. Keeping a gear closet with your favorite garments on hand will give you more time on the trails and less in the gear bin.
• Illumination – (headlampflashlight) Most headlamps now weigh ounces and provide many hours of illumination so there is no reason to leave at home and risk benighting yourself or stepping off a precipice in the pitch black turning your day trip into an epic. Bring a light whether you think you need it or not.
• First Aid Supplies – Its impossible to be prepared for everything and there are countless ways to prepare a first aid kid. While one cannot pack everything you might need in an emergency bringing the items that have multiple uses avoids redundancy and cumbersome extra pack weight. A standard kit of bandages, medication, splints, and a cutting utensil is good to have in the car. On a light and fast trip I always bring some ibuprofen , Benadryl, a Swiss Army knife some twine and a roll of athletic tape. Using clothing like a buff or handkerchief can serve as sun protection and can be used with the tapetwine for emergency bandages makes an efficient minimal first aid kit. Using trekking poles can double as a splint as long as you have some twine/tape to fit them etc.
• Fire – To earn the wilderness survival merit badge a scout must be able to start a fire with 3 methods without using matches or lighters. Waterproof matches and lighters are a good choice for your pack. Flint and magnesium, steel wool, laundry lint are a few other options (a bow and lathe if you are in the 1% that can actually star a fire this way).
• Repair Kit and Tools – Athletic tape, twine, Swiss Army Knife that are already in the first aid kit will go a long way in making repairs. Some extra batteries for headlamp (or check the freshness before you depart) is also a good idea.
– They don’t call these the “Cascades” for nothing. There is in most circumstances an abundance of fresh water to find along or nearby NW trails. Regardless of how pristine it looks water should always be purified to avoid the dreaded Beaver Fever (Ghiardia).
• Emergency Shelter – Most survival blankets are minimal in size for packing but also provide minimal comfort if needed to bivy overnight. If traveling in an alpine environment packing a puffy (lightweight down jacket) will provide the best insulation for weight ratio. A light pair of pants are a great safety net if you need to stop and hunker down.