top of page
  • Writer's pictureRosy Jefferson

How to Build a Hiking Emergency Kit: 5 Must-Have Items

More Than Just First Aid, This Gear Will Help Keep You Safe In The Wilderness!


hikers make their way through lush green foothills to the craggy foggy snowy peak ahead

 

Spring is almost here! Campsites are thawing out, and snow is melting away from hiking trails across the country - time to start planning your outdoor adventures! The Pathloom App can help you plot out your best outdoor experiences, and the Pathloom Blog can help you prepare with great tips on staying safe on the trails, finding the best campsites, and avoiding the crowds at popular National Parks throughout the USA! Join our community today!



 


Since 2020, hiking has seen a dramatic increase in popularity across the US, according to this report. Close to 59 million people went hiking at least once in 2021 - representing an 80.4% growth since 2010. However, with more people traveling in the wilderness, hiking-related injuries have also increased among day hikers and experienced mountaineers. Given the risks of hiking, it's critical to be prepared for anything. Aside from avoiding obvious dangers like wild animals or adapting your plans to changes in weather, it’s vital to have an emergency kit in place to sustain you in case something goes wrong. To get you started, here are a few items you should consider having.

 

Reusable Face Mask

A woman wearing a facemask pokes at flowers that may otherwise cause her to have an allergic reaction


As mentioned in our previous article, pollen problems can always strike, making time spent outdoors unpleasant due to constant sneezing and itching. People with chronic allergies should always be prepared to handle these by bringing medicine and saline solution, as well as avoiding heavily pollinated areas and trails. To better protect yourself, this article recommends using reusable face masks as not only are they comfortable, but they are also more environmentally friendly— helping to reduce potential improper disposal of masks.


Although we've gotten used to thinking of face masks solely as a form of protection against COVID-19, they do have a purpose outside of this! The Under Armor Sportsmask, designed specifically for sweat-inducing activities, is a breathable option you can wear while hiking. Once you’ve passed these allergen-ridden areas, you can always remove the mask.

 

Signaling Device

A man in a hat and glasses uses a GPS Signalling device to call for help while out on the trail

While most people remember to bring First Aid supplies, some may forget to include a signaling device in their emergency arsenal. Contacting someone for help is critical in the event of an outdoor emergency - however, many remote areas may have limited phone service. Some reliable ways to signal include a whistle and signal mirror, as these will never run out of battery and are very portable - but any available assistance must be within visible hailing distance, which isn’t always the case.


If you regularly find yourself hiking in extremely remote and dangerous regions (or are an incredibly clumsy and accident-prone individual), consider investing in a satellite phone that can provide connectivity even in extremely isolated areas. They tend to be expensive, but well worth the investment should disaster strike in the wilderness!

 

Cordage

a man utilizes a large cross-section of rope as a backpack, ready for anything from a long hike to a vigilante crime fighting spree


As highlighted by survival expert Dave Canterbury in his “10 C's Of Survival,” there are endless uses for cords, including stowing gear, fastening shoelaces, and building a shelter, to name a few. If you plan on hiking in steep areas, it would be wise to invest in climbing ropes, which are designed to stretch slightly when carrying heavy loads—making them ideal for rappelling in a pinch.


Even a bit of paracord in the pack can go a long way in event of emergency - it's cheap, durable, lightweight, and barely takes up any room in the pack!

 

Fire Starter

A man starts a fire in a fire ring out in the wilderness. Remember to bring a lighter AND matches when outdoors!


Fire is a versatile tool that can both provide much-needed warmth and serve as an effective signal when needed, day or night. If you need to start a campfire, this guide recommends that you find a pit for safety reasons or make a fireproof area using gravel or sand. After gathering dry fuel like branches, fire starters like lighters and waterproof matches are best for igniting tinder, like paper or twigs, and getting your fire going.


Despite what movies and TV shows might make you think, starting a fire without a lighter or matches is extremely difficult. It’s always good - essential, really - to carry a backup fire starter to ensure a proper working source of flame when you’re out in the wild. A package of Bics and a few boxes of matches cost next to nothing, weigh next to nothing, and take up barely any room in your pack. Don’t leave home without them!

 


Water Purification System

Water purification devices come in many shapes and sizes. This Life Straw is an excellent portable solution


In the worst-case scenario that you’re lost for days and haven’t found help, a water purification system can keep you hydrated even if you’ve used up the water you brought. Dehydration makes it difficult to keep going on the trail and can potentially lead to needless injuries— so clean drinking water is essential. Moreover, the vast majority of water in the wilderness can give humans giardia or other parasites, so it's critical to filter water before drinking it. Prepare enough water to last more than your expected trip, and bring iodine solution, chlorine drops, or a water filter, as you’ll never know when you’ll run out of H2O. Click here to read more of the American Hiking Society’s water purification tips.


This is another item where having a backup plan isn't such a bad idea. A Lifestraw in the pack and a few iodine tablets in the side pouch will ensure you're ready for just about any emergency situation. Remember to rinse the Straw out before use... and you may want to fork over a few extra bucks for the tablets that remove the gross iodine flavor in addition to purifying the water!


Even with the potential dangers, you shouldn’t be afraid to take that backpacking trip. Hiking is an excellent experience for beginners and experts alike to enjoy nature and its sensations - all across the world! Proper preparation (and common sense) will keep you safe on the trail, so you can survive and thrive in the great outdoors.



 

Article written by Rosy Jeffersen


Rosy Jeffersen is a freelance writer who is passionate about getting out in the world and sharing her experiences with readers. Deeply interested in social and climate issues, she believes that stories must be both informative and empathetic to get a message across.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. In exchange for referring sales, we may receive a small commission . This comes at no extra cost to you, and helps us pay our bills without cluttering up our content with ads.

 

Spring is almost here! Campsites are thawing out, and snow is melting away from hiking trails across the country - time to start planning your outdoor adventures! The Pathloom App can help you plot out your best outdoor experiences, and the Pathloom Blog can help you prepare with great tips on staying safe on the trails, finding the best campsites, and avoiding the crowds at popular National Parks throughout the USA! Join our community today!



 

See below for more articles from the Pathloom community!

 
 

bottom of page