ESCALANTE, Utah – It looks like a great weekend to be outdoors in Utah, celebrating the start of the spring hiking season.
Before heading out, however, it’s worth taking some time to get prepared, and expert hiker Roger Jenkins suggests putting together a kit to take along. It includes what he calls the “10 essentials” – no matter if you’re going on a day hike or a multi-day adventure.
Start with a first-aid kit, because Jenkins has found that if you hike enough, eventually, someone will get hurt. Then add waterproof matches, a knife and rain gear. Topographical maps are next on the list, and that’s the one Jenkins says most people overlook.
“We can get free maps on the Internet for virtually anywhere you want to hike,” he says. “And learn to read a topographical map. It’s much easier than a highway map, believe me.”
He thinks maps are preferable to using a GPS device, with a screen that’s too small to provide much perspective in the backcountry – and maps don’t need batteries.
Also on the list: a warm hat, extra clothing, a compass, and a flashlight or headlamp. That’s nine items – and number 10 is your call. Jenkins calls it the “common sense” detail – you might want insect repellent, binoculars, sunscreen or toilet paper.
Jenkins says all those items only weigh a few pounds. He’s heard objections about the flashlight from folks headed out on day hikes – but he’s been on rescue crews searching for day hikers who went astray.
“And I can remember looking for some people that were way overdue and they didn’t have a flashlight with them,” he says. “They had missed the trail, they didn’t have a good map with them. If you don’t have a flashlight and it’s pitch-black, it is scary trying to hike.”
Jenkins is using his hiking kit this weekend near Escalante, in southern Utah.