Plan Ahead and Prepare
As a former outdoor educator and a Leave No Trace Master Educator, I cannot stress enough how important it is to plan ahead and prepare no matter if you are on a day hike, bike ride, or camping. Research the area you will be going to ahead of time and plan accordingly.
Find out what the weather is like for the time of year you will be there and dress/pack accordingly. Be aware of any extreme weather conditions. For example do not plan your trip to go into a canyon during monsoon season because of flash floods. Another example would be not to plan your trip during the hottest part of the year and start your hike at the hottest part of the day. Remember if you are going to gain elevation the temperature will drop and it is a good idea to bring more layers to put on.
Water and Food
Find out if there is running tap water or natural water that will need to be purified. If you will need to purify water make sure to bring iodine, a pump or some other purification method. If you do not know about the water at your destination or if there is none make sure to bring enough. Bring some snacks and lunch with you on a day trip. On overnight trips it is a good idea to write down a meal plan for the trip, shop ahead of time, and repack the food (loose extra unnecessary packaging).
It does not matter if your trip is for a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks. It is a really good idea to leave an itinerary with someone. This person should know where you will be, for how long, how many people, and when you plan to return. Let this person know you will contact them when you return too. In the event of an emergency, when you do not contact this person, they will know it is time to seek help for your rescue.
Ideas of What to Have in Your Pack
There are a few items I always keep in my daypack and pack when going into the outdoors. These items are a knife, a lighter and/or matches, a signal mirror, a trash bag, an emergency blanket, a basic first aid kid, extra snacks, a headlamp, TP, a compass, and duct tape.
These suggestions are based off of my own personal experiences in the outdoors as an outdoor instructor, a parks and recreation management graduate, and from my own leisure activities. Some of this may seem like common sense but you would be surprised.
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