Over many years of hiking the trails around Chilliwack, I am constantly surprised at how unprepared many people are for the unknowns of the outdoors. Don’t get me wrong I am not an advocate of dooms day style prepping and bringing every conceivable tool into the backcountry with you, however there is a balance to be struck. One should be able to deal with adverse situations with a basic level of competency and proficiency.

As a general rule the best tool that you can take with you just about anywhere, and especially in the outdoors, is your skill set and knowledge. With these instruments you will be able to overcome most of what can be thrown at you during a day in the elements, with only a marginal reliance on equipment. The best starting point is first aid training and if possible Wilderness First Aid specific training. These courses will teach you to assess injuries and stabilize them for extended periods until help can arrive, or how to build splints that might enable you to extract the injured person your self.

Secondarily a knowledge of navigation and direction is paramount! Know which direction will lead you back to the trail head and where the sun rises and sets in relation to your position, so if need be you can use these general references to guide your trip out if you get lost or turned around.

In addition to these personal tools there are a few things that should always travel with you on the trail, even if you only plan on being gone for a short day hike.

What’s in my Pack?

–       Flashlight (headlamp)

–       First Aid Kit

–       Food (energy bars)

–       Water and/or water treatment

–       Extra clothes (depending on the hike and the season, however general rule for the summer is a lightweight rain/ wind jacket, warm long sleeve, change of socks, touque)

–       Sun and bug protection

–       Fire starter (lighter or waterproof matches)

–       Emergency blanket

–       Knife

–       Cell Phone or Spot GPS transmitting device

–       Compass/ GPS

–       Map of the area

You may wish to bring other things with you for comfort and enjoyment however these will depend on the season and the specific trail. If you are unsure of what you might encounter in a specific location, it’s a good idea to reference a guidebook first or come see us at Mt. Waddington’s Outdoors and our knowledgeable staff we will gladly point you in the right direction.

The snow is now almost completely off of the alpine trails and it is a great time during this heat-wave to get out into the mountains, drink out of a glacier fed stream and take in the breathtaking views of some of the most dramatic and rugged backcountry found anywhere in the world.

– Sam Waddington – Owner of Mt. Waddington’s Outdoors : Equipping you for Rock, Water, Snow, Sand, Wind and anything else the Outdoors can throw at you!

Published in The Chilliwack Progress “Alive Outside” Column – July 11th, 2013

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