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What to bring on a hiking trip?

Forgive me if this list seems a little obsessive and please use it as a guidline not a rule. There may be many things I've forgotten and maybe a few that aren't neccessary. From my experience the following list of items has been very useful on previous trips. I'm confident that if everyone carried the items listed below the group would have a very enjoyable and safe trip. If there are items that you can think of that should be added to this list please let Ken or Don know right away.

By Don Salomon with contributions from Deb MacAuley and Perley Mears!

Hiking Boots You'll want light weight, flexible, and very comfortable boots. Waterproof is a plus. Do not wear sneakers since they don't support your ankles like boots do. The number one injury hikers face are twisted or broken ankles. We wouldn't want to carry you.
Day/FramePack A cloth daypack is all that is needed for a dayhike since you won't be carrying that much equipment. Don't take a larger pack than you need! For longer hikes you'll want a framepack. Make sure your pack is very comfortable and secure. If the center of gravity is off too much or the pack is just uncomfortable you may develop backaches or backstrain on the hike. For longer day hikes, a waist belt is desirable.
Canteen/Bottle Water is an absolute neccessity on any hike. Do not fill a canteen with anything but water as the contents may spoil or spoil the taste of future contents. I know what they say about Gatorade but trust me, only water truly quenches your body's thirst.
Bring enough, unless you know there is a hut where you can replenish - do NOT drink the water from streams no matter how clean or lovely they look (Giardia). Bring more water early in the season when you're not in maximum shape and drink BEFORE you get really thirsty, or your muscles have a harder time recovering. I suggest reusing the plastic bottled water bottles, they're a good size and very lightweight when empty, and you can easily bring 3-4 for a longer hike. Water should be the heaviest thing in your pack and preferably easily accessible while you're walking.
Warm Clothing It doesn't matter what time of year or what the weather is like. As you may have heard your mother tell you, "Dress in Layers". Remember you can always take clothes off if you're hot, so make sure you have extra to put on if you're cold.
Stay away from sweats and t-shirts - they are usually 100% cotton, are heavy and when they get wet they are even heavier and do not keep you warm (unless you have a poly-blend t-shirt like EMS sells). Try to invest in some polar fleece which like wool will keep you warm, wet or dry but has the bonus of being VERY lightweight. Remember, even if you take this stuff off you still have to CARRY it!! Stuff like spandex can be pretty comfortable and warm to hike in once it's above 50 degrees or so, and it is also lightweight.
Wool Socks Wool is an incredible material since it keeps you warm even if it gets wet. Cotton works the opposite since it can't retain heat very well. It is very important to take good care of your feet since you'll be relying on them heavily.
Wool and wool/poly blends are great, most sport stores and shoe stores sell them specifically designed for hiking. TIP: keep an extra pair in your pack in case your feet (or your buddy's!) get wet, and on a longer hike change your socks at the top - you will be much more comfortable on the way down. Poly or silk sock liners are also a great treat on those longer hikes to help prevent friction burns (aka blisters!). Wool socks can also double as gloves if you get caught in a cold front on a peak.
Wool Gloves Again, wool is recommended but any gloves are better than none. Fingers are the most likely part of your body to get frostbite. Most likely we won't need gloves during the summer months but it would be better to have them anyway.
Wool hat/bb-cap You can lose as much as 90% of your body heat through your head and more if your hair is thinning. Wearing a hat can retain most of that heat. You should bring one even if you don't plan on wearing it.
Parka/Raincoat Hikes will never be planned in the rain since it really is no fun to hike in bad weather. Since the weather is very unpredictable it is best if everyone brings rain gear.
Toilet Paper Generally a bathroom will be available at the base of a mountain as well as at an AMC cabin on the mountain. Not every trip may be so lucky and sometimes when nature calls there is no bathroom anywhere. When that happens it's nice to be prepared.
First Aid Kit This isn't a requirement but a good idea. Think about any personal effects that you might need on a trip such as bandaids, creams, oitments, pain killers...
Ace Bandage Wraps Twisting your ankle is unfortunately a very common injury even among experienced hikers. Ace bandage raps, found in any drug store, help support an injuried ankle and allow the hiker to continue to hike. The alternative is to be dragged or carried by the group so please consider bringing them.
Snacks Trail mix or dried fruits are recommended but anything with high carbohydrate and low sugar will do. Also avoid snacks with a lot of salt as salt makes you thirsty. Good alternatives to trail mix are crackers, potato sticks, grapes or raisins.
Plan on having something to snack on every couple of hours on a long day hike to keep your energy level up. Popcorn is also a good lightweight snack (Deb's girlfriend Kym brings pizza!!).
Lunch Plan your lunch carefully. Like the snacks, try to limit your sugar and caffeine intake. Recommended lunches would include a couple sandwiches, fruit, and fruit juice. Keep in mind whatever you bring up the mountain you must bring back down with you. Try to limit the amount of trash you'll produce.
Compass Make sure someone in the group has a compass and of course a map. The leader and the caboose should each have a map.
Plastic Bags Whether you go on a dayhike or a multiple day hike plastic bags are very helpful. They act as a raincoat for your pack. They keep animals away at night. You can keep your clothes dry in them and in a bind you can make a raincoat out of them. I've even used bags to cross a stream without getting my feet wet.
Rope Definitely not a requirement but I remember one trip in particular where a trail turned into a muddy waterfall. Without a rope we wouldn't have made it up a 15' incline.
Swiss Army Knife ...or equivalent! You never know when one will come in handy. Tweezers, scissors, screw driver...All useful STUFF!
Mole Skin This stuff has been known to make bad hikes turn out good! Mole skin is lika a fuzzy bandaid that is placed directly on blisters. If you haven't hiked in awhile and/or your boots are relatively new you'll want to bring this stuff.
Flashlight Although day hikes will be during the day they have been known to take a little longer especially if we got lost (not that we will). To be safe flashlights are recommended. They are required for longer hikes.
Camera & Film For obvious reasons a camera is really nice to bring along. Big plus if it's a digital camera!
Other items
  • a whistle, in case you get lost or need help
  • waterproof matches
  • some kind of lip balm/blistex
  • sunglasses
  • extra batteries for that flashlight!
  • gaiters are great if you're hiking in shorts and it's a bushy or wet trail

What not to bring for a dayhike?

Alcohol Alcohol causes your body to not absorb oxygen as efficiently, it also causes your body to not maintain heat. If you drink the night before, the day of or during a mountain hike you will be in no physical shape to keep up with the group. This is only a recommendation. If you must have beer no one will stop you.
Sugar-based Food/Drink Foods or drinks rich in sugar are almost as damaging as alcohol. Though you will get a boost of energy you are only borrowing the energy gain. About 10-20 minutes after a soda your energy level will be much lower. Save the soda for after the hike.
Stimulants Coffee, chocolate, tea, and sodas contain a lot of caffeine. Stimulants are worse than sugar in that they borrow your body's energy to give you a temporary boost. This is only a recommendation however. Some of us are addicted to caffeine, myself included.
Sneakers I can't stress enough how useless sneaker are on a hiking trip. They don't support your ankles or the soles of your feet. You'll be stepping from rock to rock and some are sharp enough to puncture a sneakers sole. If there is snow up there you are likely to get frost bite if you wear sneakers. Please wear boots.
Weapons/Firearms The mountains are safe and being with a group will make them even safer. Do not bring any kind of weapon or firearm as the laws in state parks are very different than the rest of NH. Not to mention it would make everyone nervous.
Radios If you must have music bring a walkman, be kind to those of us who want it quiet.

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