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Hiking Checklist

When I was growing up, I used to go hiking and camping and backpacking with my family and with the Boy Scouts, but nowadays I mostly just stick to hiking, going on day hikes of various lengths. Below is the checklist I use when I'm getting everything ready the night before. For longer hikes I typically take everything in the first group. I know it would be prudent to take everything in the second group as well, but I rarely do, except maybe a flashlight if I'm really not sure how long the hike's going to take, or gloves if I'm going to be scrambling on rocks in the snow.

warm jacket (fleece)
rain jacket (also serves as windbreaker) [1]
sun hat
warm hat
shoes for driving there and back
shoes for hiking [2]
socks for hiking
socks for driving back [3]
food (trail mix, hard candy, energy bars, etc.)
pen and paper [4]
sunblock [5]
emergency toilet paper [6]

first aid kit
pocket knife
waterproof matches


  1. I also keep a $1 thin plastic poncho in my backpack at all times as a last resort. I have used it more than once.
  2. I have to be vague about the kind of shoes because I recently switched from hiking boots to running shoes. So far it's been a great success! See Running Barefoot for the complete story.
  3. Being able to change into clean socks after a hike is a little thing, but it's a really nice little thing, a luxury, much like bringing soap and a towel on a long-distance drive. Keeping a can of soda or something in the car to drink after the hike is nice too.
  4. I've had pens fail on me at high altitude, so maybe it'd be better to use a pencil but then I'd worry about breaking the point, and also about stabbing myself since I like to keep my writing materials in my pocket for quick access. The paper can be a notepad or a folded-up sheet of paper, and it usually ends up having multiple functions.
  5. Most of the time I don't actually take the sunblock, I just put some on in the morning, but I like to get it out with everything else the night before so that I won't forget.
  6. For backpacking I'd take a flattened almost-empty roll, but for hiking I prefer to get rid of the cardboard tube by transferring some paper onto a new small roll with no center.


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@ November (2011)