With so many amazing trails in the Pacific Northwest it’s no wonder that hiking remains one the most popular “leisure” activities in the region. One of our responsibilities here at CRESA is to support Search & Rescue operations for missing hikers. It is hard to be prepared for every situation you might face while on the trail, but by carrying these "10 Essentials" you can increase your odds of a returning home safely.
Navigation - A map is no good without a compass, and a compass is no good if you don't know how to use it. It doesn't matter how fancy your compass is, but if it doesn't have a compensation setting for true North, make sure you know how to convert magnetic to true North. In Western Washington magnetic North is 20-22° east of true North. GPS units are great, but they are not substitutes for knowing how to use a map and compass.
Water and a way to purify it - It is essential to drink a lot of water while hiking, especially with the hot summer we are having so far. Without water, your body doesn't perform as well and you could grow more susceptible to heat stroke, hypothermia and altitude sickness.
Extra food - Always bring extra food when hiking in case an unexpected situation delays your return - be it detour, injury or sickness, difficult terrain, weather, etc. Bring at least one extra day's worth.
Rain gear and extra clothing - Weather can change quickly in the mountains. A sunny, warm day can turn into a cold downpour in a very short period of time.
Fire starter and matches - Always bring along waterproof matches in a water-tight container and have a dry or waterproof striker. You might also bring a cigarette lighter as a backup. And in the Northwest you can expect to have to deal with wet kindling.
First aid kit - Don't just have a first aid kit - have a useful first aid kit. If your kit just has a few band aids and some aspirin, you won't be able to do much. Make sure you have the supplies to deal with major injuries, and make sure you have the knowledge.
Flashlight and extra batteries - It's dark out there! A light source is vital if you get caught in the woods after dark. Also carry spare batteries and an extra bulb and make sure you test your light before each trip. Batteries have a limited shelf-life and contacts can become corroded, blocking the flow of current.
Knife or multi-purpose tool - Knives are indispensable in the back-country. They can help you prepare food, cut Moleskin or bandages, repair gear and more.
Sun screen and sun glasses - Your eyes need protection, especially if you are on snow or above tree line. Sunglasses are a must. And those rays are strong and damaging; sunscreen is important for people of all skin types.
Emergency Shelter - When a day hike becomes an overnight adventure the need for shelter quickly becomes a priority. Options include an ultralight tarp, a bivy sack, an emergency space blanket, or even a large plastic trash bag.
For more information on hiking in SW Washington visit: