What’s in Your Backpack?

This whole month I’ve been considering the troubles we avid adventurers can get into and how to minimize the risks when we camp, kayak, canoe and hike.  Sometimes you can do everything right and still end up in a bad situation, needing basic supplies.

With that in mind, I sent a text to my son, Cole, and asked him to take a picture of what he considers essential for his hikes-some of which are overnight hikes.  He takes an inner frame backpack on overnight hikes.  The bass doesn’t go with.  Here is what he sent me:

What's in Your Backpack?

Essential gear for longer day and overnight hikes in the Ozarks

Due to his habit of sleeping out on his hikes, he always carries his hammock, 2 tarps, paracord, nylon braid cord, flint and a steel knife with fishing line and a hook stored in the handle.  He carries his kettle, sanitizer, extra wool socks, lighter fluid, gloves, tarp and axe.  He brings a dry sack when he kayaks, but it would come in handy for bear food storage as well.  Also included are sunglasses, headlamp, pocket solar panels to charge his phone, cup, fork and pan with a lid.  He carries a small towel,  Sawyer squeeze for water (available online at most outdoor gear retailers), sleeping pad and bag, along with the camera and tripod.  In the summer he rarely uses the sleeping bag and never carries a tent.  He also carries TP and electrical tape, which can function for him as a first aid kit in a pinch.  A lot of Cole’s gear is multi functional.  He can use the tarp for rain jacket in a pinch.  If he needs a quick shelter, stringing the rope and using the tarps will act as a tent.  The trick is to take what you need but not carry so much it takes away your energy and enjoyment of the hike.  Always wear a hat and take a bandana on hikes-they are very useful for everything to cooling down to first aid.

Snakes of SWMO Ritter Springs Springfield MO

This is a non venomous snake. Notice the round eyes and lack of wide head. Possible Diamond Back Watersnake

Of course, he will also take along MRE’s (Meal Ready to Eat) or other lightweight foods and water.  Some favorites are beef jerky, trail mix, dried fruit (don’t eat too much), peanut butter, ramen, bananas, and tuna fish with crackers.  I also like those cracker packs with either tuna salad or chicken salad that are available at Aldi for about a dollar.  When hiking it’s important to stay hydrated and have high energy foods available.

Rushing Sac River

Anyone want to cross here?

Of course, the location and duration of your hike will dictate your needs.  For a short hike in a well-traveled location it’s not as essential to have a big first aid kit or lots of food.  Water yes, food not so much.  On our recent hike to Ha Ha Tonka State Park, we took essentials only and kept our packs small and lightweight.  We traveled 1.75 miles in about 2 hours and had a good time.  I’ll post more about this trip in 2 weeks.

Sac River Trail off Hwy 13

The Sac River Trail off Hwy 13 is a great place to hike or mountain bike.

With my own backpack for day hikes-I never sleep rough-I usually carry a whistle and first aid kit along with water, bug spray, a decent flashlight, rope, sunscreen and a few snacks.  I also have mace, a small army knife, and Chapstick.  I have been lost before when hiking and been down to the last half hour before sunset wondering if I was going to make it back to the car before it got dark.  I’ve also had friends get caught out in weather, remember it is SWMO and weather here can be unpredictable especially in the spring.  I’ve also had friends get caught out overnight with essentially no gear and no food, because what started out as a well-marked trail got less so after a few miles-not fun.

Day Hike Supplies

Minimal supplies for a short day hike

Remember too, your cell phone may not work out in the back country.  You may get a spotty signal if you find a high enough hill, but nothing beats being prepared before you leave the house.  Also, it’s a good idea to always let someone know where you’re going to be hiking and a general time of when you will be back, especially if you are taking off for a few days.

The Ozarks region is filled with beautiful places to hike for a day or a week so get out there!

Check out the Facebook page How to do the Ozarks and Instagram htdto2020 for more pictures and places to visit!

Hiking in Crawford County

Crawford County hiking

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