Say you're heading out to spend some time in your local greenspace or going on a short hike a little further from home. You're heading somewhere that offers a break from the city and a quiet place to spend time in nature, but you'll be able to quickly access emergency services if the need arises, so packing the full Ten Essentials — including a shelter and firestarter — feels like a bit much.
It's still important to have some essentials. Your trip will be a lot more enjoyable with water and snacks (snacks make everything better always), and your feet will thank you for wearing the right shoes.
Water in a reusable containerBring at least two reusable water bottles, which are usually each about 32 ounces.
Why: Even if you're doing a fairly flat trail, hiking is still exercise and you'll need more than you might think.
SnacksNuts, dried fruit, or gummi bears. You can also look at our Backcountry Kitchen page for ideas.
Why: Small but high calorie snacks will help keep you fueled up for the day.
Sealable container for food waste and trashBecause you need somewhere to put your food wrappers, plastic bags, and apple cores.
Why: There's no trash pickup along trails or at trailheads, and even though it seems like it should, food waste does not decompose quickly and can interfere with the natural environment.
An extra layer for cold or rainA rainjacket or a wool sweater. Don't have one? Borrow or buy one secondhand.
Why: In Washington, weather can change quickly, and temperatures vary greatly between shady areas and sunny slopes, even on short hikes.
Sunscreen and sunglassesWhy: Even on a cloudy day, up to 80% of the sun's UV radiation can still penetrate your eyes, and all shades of skin.
A bathroom kitKeep hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and a second, sturdy plastic bag all together in your pack. If you have to go while you're on your hike, you need to pack the toilet paper out with you. Yup. If you wipe when you pee, you may want to look into investing in a Kula cloth to cut down on waste. Either way, you'll need TP for #2.
Why: Not all trails have toilets. And not all toilets at trailheads are open. Go before you leave home, and learn how to poop in the woods, so you'll know what to do if it comes to that.
A basic first-aid kitA few bandages, an alcohol wipe or two, and a few over the counter painkillers at least.
Why: Blisters suck, but they're even worse if you don't have a way to treat them while hiking. If you take medication over the course of the day, be sure to bring that, too.
A mapPaper or digital is fine.
Why: Even trail networks in your local park can be confusing.
Pack for your pup, too
If you're hiking with a pet, there are a couple more things you'll want to bring along.
LeashNot all trails require pets to be on leash, but WTA always recommends keeping your animal on leash.
Why: It's safer for them, and not all other hikers are dog lovers, nor are all dogs people lovers.
Food and water for your petBe sure to have at least the same amount of water for your pet as you're bringing for yourself, and some snacks they can eat.
Why: Hiking takes energy for animals and humans alike.
A smell-proof way to carry pet waste outHelp keep hiking trails clean, safe and pleasant by picking up after your pet and packing it up right away. This can be a hard sided Tupperware container, or one of many bags sold by outdoor companies to stash pet waste.
Why: Poop bags, even if left on trail for a short time, can harm wildlife and detract from the hiking experience for others.