Category: Tips & Tricks & How-To

About gear, clothing, and some quick tips.

Day Hiking 10 Essentials

Great Gift Ideas for Your Hiker Friends

These are the 10 essentials that should go with you on EVERY hike. For sure you will likely change out some of these depending on weather, length of your hike, and what kind of terrain.

Let’s keep it simple and start with the basics for a day hike. You may think that many of these items are overkill for a simple day hike, but things happen, and you’ll be happy you are prepared. And sometimes you will be the hero when you can lend aid to another less prepared hiker. As an example; for years I carried an Ace bandage in my first aid kit. One day I saw a hiker wipe out, resulting in a sprained ankle. There was still a long way to get to the trailhead. He was grateful for the support I could offer. (And I was happy that that poor little Ace bandage got to do some good!)

  1. First Aid: You can always build your own, but this is a lightweight & loaded First Aid Kit.

2. Sun Protection: Include SunScreen & “>Wide-brimmed hat. Here are a couple of my favorites. Love the ability to pull my ponytail out the back.

3. Navigation. There are numerous ways to download maps and I use them all! My overall favorite is the All Trails App. You can download maps if you go where there is no cell service. No matter where you are, this all-purpose app gives all the information you need to determine if a trail is right for you and your physical level.

4. Knife: I’ve carried a number of different knives from large to tiny. But the most useful has been the tiny Victorinox Swiss Army Knife. I carried this in 2021 on 700-mile section hike of the PCT!

5. Shelter: Depending on where you are and the weather, you could carry a Lightweight bivy for winter or if you get the First Aid Kit mentioned above, an emergency blanket is included. If you want something a little more robust check out this 4 0z compact shelter.

6. Fire: If stranded a fire can be a lifesaver. Fire Starters can be a simple as a Bic Lighter or a Ferro Rod Steel that never runs out of fuel. (Word of caution! Check fire regulations where you plan to hike! Apply for CA Campfire Permit)

7. Headlamp: Especially this time of year it gets dark early and FAST! Don’t be caught in the dark. Headlamps are so convenient and keep your hands free. I LOVE this beanie with built-in rechargeable light! Serves two purposes: Light, and counts as the next Essential.

8. Extra Clothes: This depends heavily on the weather. Most likely you have a lightweight jacket to keep in your pack, but if you are looking for something very versatile try something like this Mountain Hardware long sleeve shirt with a hoody. You won’t believe how much protection a hoody can add to your comfort on trail.

9. Extra Water: Running out of water can be disastrous. Be sure to carry enough for yourself and possibly others on the trail who foolishly didn’t carry enough. Even while on short day-hikes I love having drink-tube hydration. There are a variety of sizes and brands but my favorite is the Platypus Hoser. Oh and don’t forget the Bite Valve Cover. It seems that all bite valves dive for the dirt every time I take off my pack for a break!

10. Extra Food: You may or may not be stopping for a break, but having a nice snack will refresh your energy and brighten your spirits especially if it’s a particularly yummy treat! Granted you will pack something fresh each time, but it never hurts to keep an emergency snack or drink. Consider one of my go-to high-protein bars, the Builder Bar. Most grocery stores sell them individually. And that’s a good option if you don’t need 14!

Many of these are items I use personally and others are recommendations if you are starting out building your 10 Essentials. You should also know that “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.” 

21 Ways to Use a Bandana

By Carol Chirpich and Debbie Shiffer-Mauss

Awhile back, my sister asked me why I always wear a bandana while hiking. I got to thinking about it and had quite a few reasons. So here’s the short list of 21 Ways to use a Bandana. I’m sure you can come up with quite a few more. 

What are your suggestions?

  1. Keep neck cool when wet
  2. Keep neck warm when dry
  3. Blow your nose
  4. Wipe sweat
  5. Hair tie
  6. Tie a splint
  7. Bandage/Stop bleeding
  8. Wash cloth
  9. Dry dishes
  10. Scrub dishes
  11. Dust mask
  12. Pee rag – reserve a yellow bandana for this!
  13. Head band
  14. Swat bugs
  15. Flag down rescue
  16. Pick up/hold a hot pan
  17. Wipe condensation off tent
  18. Tie things to pack
  19. Placemat for meal prep
  20. Sun Shade
  21. Mini-knapsack

Trekking Pole Repair

Twist lock trekking poles can be repaired especially if they are good quality to begin with. I’ve had my Leki Makalu’s for  over 10 years. They are the twist lock type and they began collapsing, not holding the lock. No bueno while slogging up rocky terrain.

Getting a new pair seemed my only option. But I started looking around Amazon, and found replacement parts and found YouTube videos that showed how to either adjust existing locks or replace with new. Only two sizes were available on Amazon so I ordered both. But neither one was the right size.

So my only option is to do the adjustment.  Here’s how:

Pull the sections apart to reveal the expander. Turn the expander either way to move the red slider up or down to make the adjustment. You are trying to make the expander bigger, but not so big you can’t get it back into the pole. It takes a couple tries
to get it right. Once I get them to a point where they will hold the correct length, tighten them and leave them long! I found that if I collapsed them down, I had to readjust the expander again, in order to get them back to hiking length. So now I just leave them long.


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