Last week, we went over some basic safety tips on what to know before you go hiking. This week, we’re going to expand on that and let you know the 10 most important items to have in your backpack before you go on your trek through the woods. Some of these you may not even have to use, but in the case that things don’t go as planned, it is better to be prepared than find yourself without.

Flashlight – Especially if you’re planning an all-day trip, pack a flashlight or a head lamp, and don’t forget some extra batteries. It gets darker in the forest than other areas since you’re usually covered by a canopy of trees so a good working flashlight will ensure that you can safely find your way out of the woods and avoid falling or taking a wrong turn.

Fire-making Kit – This is one of those items that you should pack just in case. Waterproof matches or a lighter will work just fine. Should you be stuck in the woods at night, having warmth from the fire will make a huge difference and ensure your survival. Be fire conscious and build it in an area where sparks will not fly off and start a brush fire, especially in the dry summer. Dig a hole and surround it with rocks for extra cautionary measures and never leave it unattended. When you are finished, stomp out all the embers.

Signalling Device – Again, this is another item that you may not need, but is extremely helpful in the case of an emergency. A loud whistle or a similar device will signal rescuers to your area and get you to safety. This item is especially handy if you get injured.

Food and Water – Sandwiches, protein bars, trail mix, and anything else that you can easily carry will keep your energy high and get you through your hike. Large canteens filled with water with extra water bottles on the side are essential to have, especially in the summer.

Extra Clothing – As every mother has said before: “you can always take your jacket off, but you can’t put it on if you don’t have it.” We may have found this irritating as kids to lug around an extra jacket or sweater, but in this case, it turns out mom was right. Even if it’s just a light rain jacket, having something to put on for extra protection in case the weather changes keeps you safe, warm, and cry.

Map/Compass – As we mentioned in our last blog, your phone’s GPS is not reliable and you shouldn’t rely on technology to keep you safe. A compass or a map is your best option.

First Aid Kit – Your first-aid kit doesn’t have to be anything special. Just the essentials such as bandaids, gauze, tape, hydrogen peroxide, and a tensor bandage will do the trick. Be sure you know how to use all of these items before embarking on your trip.

Remember, pack for the weather. If it’s sunny out, wear a hat and sunblock. If it’s raining, bring a raincoat or postpone the trip if it becomes too dangerous. Trust your instincts, stay safe, and happy hiking.