There is nothing like going for a long walk through a national park, whether it be for an hour or for days at a time. It really brings you back to nature. The great thing is that it can be enjoyed all around the world, whether you are in Yellowstone National Park, Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park or anywhere (yeah, yeah, I know I’m promoting my last two posts!). I thought I would pass on a few of my tips on what to take with you on your adventure. What you exactly take will depend greatly on how long you go and where you are, but this advice should still help.
A Phone with a GPS
This is the most important item in your bag. Most National Parks get some sort of phone reception and this is your best form of communication with the outside world in case there is an emergency. Even if you have in and out reception, knowing your location via the GPS is invaluable.
And make sure it is a good one! Even if you have walked the path several times, you should always take a map. With phones and their wonderful apps this is made a lot easier as it lets you know exactly where you are. However, even if you have a map on your phone I suggest you still take a hard copy for back-up. Phones can get wet, damaged, run out of batteries or just plain lost. You will feel safer with a hard copy as backup. Too many people die every year due to getting lost in while hiking (example).
Food and Water
You need to take enough to last your walk and then some in case you get lost or it takes longer than expected. Remember when walking your intake of both food and water will be higher, so make allowances (here’s a good post on it). If you are relying on getting water from a stream/creek, make sure you have very recent knowledge that the water is flowing. However even if you know there is a stream, still take extra water. I know it’s heavy, but it’s not worth the risk. For food, berries and nuts are great snacks.
Remember you are carrying it on your back, so you want something lightweight. Having said that you need something sturdy enough to stand up to a little wind. I’m not going to make any recommendations here, but I suggest making it under 5 pounds if you are by yourself.
First Aid Kit
Even for short walks this is very important. I always take with me some basic bandages/band-aids etc for the half day walks. Don’t worry about splints. Nature is there for that. For long term hiking I’ll add headache tablets, a multipurpose knife, plastic bags, and swabs at a minimum. Here’s a good website with other suggestions. I also ensure that I’m carrying my Venapro as this is an ongoing treatment I am using.
I’ll add this in here even if it is not directly first aid – Sunscreen – Even if it isn’t hot out, put it on. The last thing you want when you return home is a bad sunburn.
Always take proper walking shoes/sneakers. If you are going off-track, or on a less walked track, make sure you wear proper hiking boots. Always take a sweater of some type. You may not feel like wearing it while walking, but at night it gets cold and you will thank me. Last but not least always wear a hat.
My final piece of advice is to always let someone know where you are going, even if you are only going for a short hike.