Preparing for a Hike on the trail or Back Country
Hiking in back country
Going on many hikes and back country journeys I have always tried to be prepared when heading into the woods, with gear that works for me. I would like to share some of the information and knowledge that I have from past experience and maybe you will find some of it useful.
First thing especially if your a newer hiker or your entering into a new hiking territory, try and get a lay of the land before you enter the hiking trail. Most trails here in upstate NY are marked and there are maps available. Read these and get a feel for the trail before you make your journey. I assume most hiking trails across the US are marked. If you are going into the woods on an unmarked trail look at a map before you do, and go into the woods prepared. (covered later)
Always let someone know where your going when you are planning any trip into the woods, even if its for a day trip or short trail. If you live alone or have no one to tell, leave a note in your home or better yet your vehicle. You never know what may happen when you enter the woods.
Supplies for hiking. I hike with traditional items for the most part, I use a leather side bag, with minimal items inside the bag. I have seen many who insist on weighing themselves down with needless items and there isn't a need.
This is what works for me. My leather possible (side bag) with a large knife and smaller knife on my belt or in my pocket. I know most wont be hiking with a leather side bag, a backpack will work, (many to choose from)
A knife: A good fixed blade would be my choice, with a blade around 4" long. Carbon steel being my choice.
A small sharpening stone and strop: Making knives for a living, this is just something that I carry. In an emergency you can sharpen a good carbon steel blade on a river bed flat stone, but I like to carry the stone just the same.
Water: I bring one water bottle filled. If hiking with family members everyone should have water.
Food: I usually will bring an apple or one of those granola type bars. Again I like to travel light.
In my bag: A compass, a ferro rod and steel with a fire kit and tinder. I also carry a traditional flint and steel. A plastic rain poncho (on occasion) This can be used as a make shift shelter or tarp if need be. Can also be used to collect water. Jewt cord, and leather cord. Endless uses. Jewt cord can be used for a tinder.
Walking Stick or staff: I made a traditional walking stick that I take on all hikes. I made it from an old piece of hard maple, as I favor the traditional side of things. You can purchase something if wanted. Is a walking stick needed? No. But I have found they come in handy. A walking stick can be used for help in climbing steep terrain. They are also nice if you come across pools of water. One way to test the depth of the water is by placing your walking stick in the water. Better off testing with a stick as opposed to your foot. Same goes for mud of muck that could go knee deep in a hurry.
Camera: This isn't needed, but I like to carry a digital camera whenever I enter the woods, there are many things to see.
This is what I bring on a hike, as I mentioned traveling with less gear is easier for me. The important thing to me is to respect the woods, and have fun. Keep your eyes open and enjoy.