Growing up spending lots of time outdoors, I was taught from a young age to always be prepared. Mickey’s Mountain Kit covers the basic necessities that I always try to have when heading outside. Whether it be a literal walk in a park or multiple day back country trip, these items are always with me and I suggest you do the same thing. I will be the first to admit that sometimes bringing this kit can be an overkill or add weight to your pack. However, I operate in the mindset that I would much rather add an extra few lbs to my bag than wish I had something in a dangerous situation.
Feel free to customize Mickey’s Mountain Kit to suit your needs, but this is a great starting point.
- Lighter/matches/Flint & Steel Kit-This is a no brainier, but you always want to make sure you have an easy and reliable way to start a fire
- Drier Lint-great way to start a fire in any weather environment
- Warm Pair of Socks/Extra Pair of Socks – Keeping your feet warm and dry are key to any outdoor situation. Avoid fibers like cotton, everyone has heard the expression “cotton kills”.
- Some kind of knife – You never know when you will need to have a sharp edge for a variety of reasons.
- Food and Water – Both of these are pretty obvious, but you would be surprised how many people forget this when hiking. For food, I like high protein snacks and my favorite: Granny Smith Apples. These provide a high level of natural sugar, nice crunch and lots of vitamins when you are hiking. For water, I tend to bring a standard liter bottle and for longer hikes (15+ miles) will bring two of these. When hiking with Juno (our dog), I always try to bring at least one liter of water for her as well.
- Extra Layers – Anyone who has hiked in Colorado or any high elevation environment, knows that weather can change in a heart-beat. Just because its 70 and sunny at the trailhead, does not mean that the summit will look that way. Bring lots of shed-able layers “preferably some water-proof”, its always better to be hot and take off a layer then be cold and need another one. I usually start my base with a t-shirt, longer sleeve and rain jacket. In colder months (and even in the early summer) will bring a packable jacket as well. Materials for good hiking clothes include anything synthetic and avoid cotton.
- Pair of Gloves/Hat – Regardless of the time of year, I always try to have these two items in my backpack, same principal as packing extra layers. Keeping your hands and feet warm is extremely important.
- Usable Cordage – Having some kind of rope could literally save your life. You don’t need to bring 200 yards of rope for a day hike but having some kind of usable cordage in your bag can mean the difference between a crappy situation and a good one. Cordage can be used in hundreds of different ways and for the weight it takes up, is definitely worth it to pack.
- Light Source – You never know when the weather will turn or your trip will take longer then you expected. Having a light source makes finding the trail or way back, a hell of a lot easier. I tend to stick to a headlamp and one good handheld flashlight.
- Map/Route of Your Trip – I know everyone will tell me they use GPS on their phone/ Garmin or similar device but I can’t tell you the number of times I relied on that and had the device die, have no service etc. I have learned to love having a hard copy map or route of where I plan on going. Of course, using an app is completely acceptable as well, but just be aware that phones will not always have service and have a battery attached to them. If you are going on a long hike or backpacking over multiple days, a hard copy is always a good idea.
- Compass/Way to Tell Direction – Whether you bring an old fashion compass (that you know how to use) or GPS device that can help tell you where you are heading, this is absolutely key to have with you. I can’t count the number of times I have lost the trail and needed a compass to keep my general direction on track.
- Basic First Aid Kit – You don’t need to go crazy on this one, but have a basic first aid kit that could get you from the middle of the trail to bigger help if needed. This would include items like sunscreen and bug spray.