DAYHIKE ESSENTIALS What you need for a dayhike with the Verde Valley Archaeology Center Each participant must decide for him/herself what equipment and supplies are necessary for a safe and fun hike. And in fact, what equipment you consider necessary may change over time as you get more experienced and go on longer and/or more difficult hikes. Water This one's easy-don't go on any hike without water. Ever. Period. You'd be surprised at just how many beginning hikers show up at one of our events without water. After just a couple of miles of easy hiking, your body will lose enough fluid that brain activity will be measurably decreased. Fluids that protect joints and muscles from injury also decrease markedly. After only five to six miles, symptoms of dehydration can include headache, increased pain in the leg, knee, and foot, stumbling, blurred vision, and "fuzzy" thinking. If you're not sure how much water you need, two liters is the minimum to carry on short cool-weather hikes. On longer high-temperature hikes, three or more liters are recommended. It's important to drink regularly. Headlamp/Flashlight An LED headlamp is lightweight, compact, and lasts over l00 hours on a single pair of AAA batteries. Handheld flashlights are less convenient, and regular filament bulbs will only bum 30-45 minutes on a set of heavier AA batteries. Basic three-LED models weigh only a couple of ounces, and generally sell for under $30. After water, a flashlight of some sort is the most important thing to carry in your pack. You may not need it for years. But when you finally do need it, it might be a lifesaver. Food Carry a few small snacks for a short hike, or a lunch and additional snacks for a longer hike. Food generally consists of nutrition bars, bagels, apples, and trail mix. Since we adheres to the "Leave No Trace" policy, you should pack out any leftovers and packaging. Rain Gear If the weather forecast indicates there's a decent chance of rain, say more than 20%, or if it "looks like rain" when you get to the trailhead, then pack a waterproof/breathable raincoat. You could use an emergency poncho instead, but they're more expensive, not as durable, and not as flexible in their various uses. Toilet Paper There's no way around it. Someday, sometime, you'll be on a hike and...well...it's not as difficult or unpleasant as some imagine. Stand facing a small tree, grab the tree for balance, and squat down. Carry a roll of about 20 squares, protected in its own watertight Ziploc bag. You can find small, convenient packages of toilet paper in Target or Wal-mart where they sell travel-size toiletries. And what do you do with the paper when you're done? Put it in a Ziploc bag and pack it out. Duct Tape Part first aid kit, part repair kit. It's better than moleskin for protecting and preventing blisters. Add a little bit of toilet paper and you have an adhesive bandage. I've used it to mend hiking poles, sunglasses, broken pack straps, and torn clothing. Waterproof duct tape is best, if you can find it. Some people wrap a few yards of tape around their hiking poles or water bottles. Ibuprofen or Aleve Carry about ten of each of these pills in a small, plastic, waterproof bottle. They both alleviate pain and fight any inflammation that might result from a sprained ankle or blunt trauma. Aspirin can cause stomach upset, and Tylenol isn't an anti-inflammatory, so they're not as useful. If you have allergies, especially to bee and wasp stings, or if you regularly take medicine for any kind of medical condition, then you should carry two full days' worth of those medicines at all times. Map and Compass For the most part, before our trip leaders offer to lead hikes, they have already familiarized themselves with the trail. Others in the group probably know the way too. So as a new member, you don't need to concern yourself with route finding. However as you become more experienced and begin to lead hikes or explore wilderness areas, a map, compass, and perhaps GPS are important items you should carry and know how to use. 2 Multi-tool Most of your hiking companions probably have a pocketknife in their pack. So if you're new to the club, you don't really need to carry one. But as you start going farther afield, you might consider purchasing a multi-tool. With about a dozen implements, knife blades, screwdrivers, pliers, and more--a multi-tool is much more useful than a common pocketknife. Other Items A whistle is a good idea in case you or another member of your group becomes lost; sunscreen, a rain or sun hat, band-aids, and insect repellant can also make your day more pleasant. Clothing and Footwear Issues of clothing and footwear are complex enough that we could easily cover each of these subjects in their own topics. We mention them here because they're so essential to a safe and enjoyable hike. Hikers and mountaineers have a famous saying: cotton kills. Even in the middle of summer, hypothermia-the dangerous loss of body heat-is a real and constant danger in the mountains. A sudden afternoon thunderstorm and accompanying winds can quickly drop perceived temperatures into the 50's, 40's, and below. Without proper clothing, the inevitable loss of body heat can be fatal. In general, when you're shopping for hiking clothing, it's best to choose garments made from man-made fibers such as polypropylene, capilene, nylon, Polartec, and the like. All of these materials will help to retain body heat, even when wet. The only natural fiber exception is wool, which is also a good insulator when wet. Some of the non-itch wools used by companies such as Smartwool have gained great popularity in items such as socks and shirts. You should also practice layering, using many items in different combinations to maximize comfort in changing conditions. It's more useful to have three or four thinner layers than it is to have a single heavier layer. As conditions change, you'll be able to add or remove layers for optimum comfort. When trying on clothing, be sure that each item is loose enough not only to be comfortable, but also to allow one item to fit over others when layering. Weather in the mountains is always unpredictable. It doesn't matter what the weatherman says. Temperatures can be 10-20 degrees or more lower than anticipated. Besides not having enough water, ill-fitting hiking boots probably account for more discomfort on the trail than any other item. Nothing will ruin a hike faster than a blister. The good news is that advancements in materials and designs have made hiking boots that require little break-in, little maintenance, and are nearly as comfortable as sneakers. Find a store that will allow you to return boots, even if you've already worn them on the trail. Guard against buying boots that are too small, your hiking boots will be at least one size bigger than your daily footwear. Your toes should never be able to touch the front of the boot. Never! Try on boots in the afternoon or evening, when your feet are swollen from using them all day. Always try on boots using whatever socks, inserts, and orthotics you'll use while on the trail. And never, ever rely on special lacing patterns or other tricks to make an ill-fitting pair of boots feel more comfortable in the store. Socks should be of the wicking-type, never those made with cotton. Cotton socks get wet, stay wet, and cause blisters. Some hikers also prefer wearing thin liner socks under their hiking socks. Conclusion Part of planning for a safe hike is being prepared for rare, but foreseeable, events. lf you're not sure what you need for a hike, feel free to ask the trip leader or other experienced members for advice before you show up at the trailhead. After all, we want you to have many years full of wonderful day hikes with us.