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What to Bring on a Hike

Here we have a compilation of items to bring on a hike. Of course you would not need all of this for hiking the Highline Canal, but most people go way too light. If you are attempting to climb the fourteeners, then before you have climbed all 54 you probably will have needed every item listed here. 

We start with the old standard Ten Essentials followed by outdoor clothing. Then expand on the essentials with a list of equipment for handling backcountry emergencies. A list of contents for a minimum first aid kit finishes this section.

Ten Essentials

The special items most hikers believe should always be with you. This compilation comes from Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills. The Mountaineers.

  • Map
  • Compass
  • Flashlight/headlamp
  • Extra food
  • Extra clothing
  • Sunglasses
  • First aid supplies
  • Pocket knife
  • Matches
  • Fire starter

Outdoor Clothing

The following items are considered essential for a successful outing.

  • Boots: Of heavy lug construction, they should fit comfortably snug with free play for toes and with little or no slippage on the heel. The boots should be weather proofed and broken in before hiking.
  • Socks: Four pairs recommended; two of lightweight nylon and two of heavy wool. Wear one pair of wool socks over one lightweight pair. The other two pairs go into your pack in case you need dry socks.
  • Pants: Constructed to be loose, warm, comfortable, and quick drying. For added warmth, wear polypropylene underwear.
  • Shirts: Light, man-made fiber - such as bunting or nylon pile - recommended for good insulating quality and quick drying.
  • Jacket: Mountain style with a hood, windproofed, waterproofed, and sized large enough to cover more insulating clothes worn under it.
  • Head Covering: Styled to retain body heat or provide shade as changing weather dictates.
  • Gloves and Overshell Mittens.
  • Rain Gear: A lightweight poncho, or rain pants and hooded parka.


The following list of items is designed to support life under any trip emergency in the backcountry, regardless of the season or weather conditions. Learn how to use it. Keep it always in your pack and check the condition of these items periodically. Your life may depend on it.

  • Fire starting kits. Bring two or three, each one different, plus cigarette lighter. Make sure they all work in wet, cold, and windy conditions.
  • Pocket knife and wire saw. The saw is for cutting large pieces of wood for an emergency fire.
  • Space blanket. The space blanket can be used as a wind breaker, heat reflector, and as a signaling device for air rescue. Wave the red side up when standing on snow; the silver side up when standing on dark grounds.
  • 3 large plastic leaf bags. For quick rain and wind protection, put one bag over your head, the second around your legs, and the third over your backpack. Make a gap in the first for breathing.
  • Low temperature electrician tape. This is handy for general repairs to space blankets, clothing, tents, boots, etc.
  • Ensolite pad. Reduce body heat loss by sitting or sleeping on pad instead of cold ground.
  • Head lamp with spare bulbs and batteries. A head lamp enables you to use both hands.
  • Map and compass plus surveying (flagging) tape. Make sure that you remove the tape on your way out.
  • Extra clothing.
  • Metal cup to melt snow.
  • Extra safe (boiled or filtered) drinking water.
  • Extra food.
  • Whistle and signal mirror and 100 feet of parachute cord.
  • Sun glasses and sun cream.
  • First aid kit.
  • Toilet paper.
  • Snow shovel on trips where snow is expected.

Minimum First Aid Kit

  • (2) Triangular Bandages: Hold compresses or splints in place
  • (1) "Ace" Bandage: Supports weakened limb joints; holds compresses or splints in place
  • (8) Sterile pads 4"X 4": Dress large wounds
  • (1) 4" bandage compress: Dresses large wounds
  • (6) Band-aids: Treat small wounds
  • (1) Roll of adhesive tape: Holds compress or splint in place
  • (4) Moleskin tape squares: Prevent and treat blisters
  • (1) Antiseptic soap: Cleans wounds
  • (1) Tube of sunscreen: Prevents sunburn
  • (1) Tube of chapstick: Prevents dry lips
  • (1) Insect repellent: Keeps insects away
  • (8) Aspirin: Relieves aches and pains
  • (8) Antacid: Relieves nausea
  • (1) Small scissors: Cuts moleskin and tape
  • (3) Safety pins: Hold compresses or splints in place; Open blisters; Make arm sling from shirt sleeve
  • (1) Tweezers: Remove splinters and ticks
  • (1) Backpack medical guide
  • (1) Bag or box: Holds all of the above


This checklist is courtesy of the Colorado Mountain Club Information Service