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No one ever leaves their house for a hike thinking that they will not come back. But as a part of Maricopa County Search and Rescue I can tell you that this is sometimes the case. It is much too common for an individual to go on a hike in light clothing – like sports bra and short shorts – not use sun screen, not bring enough water and go beyond their abilities. There are a few items that should be carried on any hike, no matter how short, to make sure you come back home safely.
The best way to carry hydration while hiking is on your back. The reason being is because the more water you have the better off you are, and water is heavy. A good Camelback or any proper backpack with a water bladder inside it will do just fine. I personally carry the Osprey Stratos 24 with blader inside it. It is a great backpack that provides good support and cooling of my back in the heat of the summer. I will not say how much water you need, because it depends on the type and length of hike, but the more water you can carry the better. You always need more water than you think. It is also a good idea to keep more water/fluids in your car for after you get back. One of the fastest way to properly re-hydrate after getting back is to drink an electrolyte replenishing drink like Pedialyte. Regular Powerade and Gatorade are good too, but they lack certain minerals and contain a lot of sugar.
Many people make the mistake of wearing too little clothing. Sure it is hot and you want your sweat to evaporate and cool you down as soon as possible and maybe even get a nice tan/burn while at it. Truth be told proper clothing can keep you nice and cool while still protecting your skin from getting burned. Companies like Mountain Hardwear/Columbia, Marmot, etc. offer great quick drying, lightweight and comfortable clothing that will help keep you cool and dry. Sure they may be a little more expensive but these days you always find a great deal online. It should be self explanatory that you need sunblock lotion and re-apply it every once in a while to the exposed parts of your body and face. The next item on the list are sunglasses. Proper sunglasses will protect your eyes and make you much more comfortable on a hike. I still do not understand people that go hiking in Arizona without sunglasses. I have a set of Rx Oakleys with me at all times.
Enough of my rambling for today, I will continue on the rest in part two, which will include shoes, first aid/rescue, food, tools… Now go out and enjoy the outdoors. And don’t be shy, if you have something to add to what I just said feel free to comment. I do not know everything, these are just my observations.