What should you carry with you when out and about? Many different scenarios and situations, but I would consider a typical, relatively short day hike, like the one I took yesterday on a nearly perfect sunny cool day with an excellent forecast.
i was only hiking about a mile up the very obvious trail and then a mile back down. This trail sees a lot of traffic, especially on the weekend, so, although I was technically hiking solo, I wan't really alone.
Here is what I toted:
EDC (in pockets): key ring with small multitool, small pry bar, lighter, cash stash; cell phone, wallet w/band aids and the usual, cotton bandanna, wide brimmed hat, ball point pen; small flashlight, hiking staff
Small backpack: rainjacket w/hood, reflective vest, leather gloves, small pack of food bars w/coffee and tea packets, Biclighter in Exotac holder, liter bottle w/cup.
small roll of TP, notepaper, mirror; small FAK w/dressings and tape; "core bag" w/ headlamp, whistle, folding knife, match safe (filled), compass, signal mirror, duct tape, fire tabs, box of matches, heetsheet emergency bivvy, esbit fuel tab, 10 feet of masons twine
folding sierra cup and lid w/ esbit stove, folding spoon, small bottle of alcohol fuel/fire starter, bic lighter, 3 esbit tabs, coffee and tea packets
Wave w/bit kit and extender and 4" adjustable wrench, skeletool
No map because I know the area very well, but one should have been included, anyway.
I met about twenty people along the trail during this trip. Nearly everyone had much less than I did. Only two people carried backpacks, and several carried nothing, not even water bottles.
I would not go out with less. Why? My SAR experience provided countless examples of day hikes/picnic strolls that turned into full blown ops, some with tragic outcomes. When I go for a walk, I try to prepare to assist others who might be in distress or confused.
Just as I was ending my trip, I encountered a couple. He had a pack and two hiking staffs. She was holding a baby (one year old +/-) to her chest with her hands. Did I mention the trail was quite muddy from recent rains? I thought - there is an accident waiting to happen. Once SAR, always a bit of SAR, I guess.
The list above is pretty much my minimum for almost any excursion. For longer trips, a better stove and more extensive cooking gear, sleeping bag, tent or tarp, and other accessories appropriate to the trip (ice axe, rope, harness, whatever) PLB?)
Note that I could probably start a fire, if conditions were appropriate. Although there was no water along the trail as far as I went, there was a fairly dependable source about 3/4 mile distant
along the trail.
So what do you carry on day hikes and why? What for longer trips?