The Ten Outdoor Essentials For Hiking And Backcountry Travel.
Consider the terrain you'll be hiking or trekking through and worn the appropriate footwear. Whether those are trail runners or heavy leather boots this is a choice that will greatly effect your enjoyment of your trip. You'll want good traction, protection from rocks and roots, and waterproofness (if you so choose).
Map and Compass, or GPS (carry a map and compass as well).
It's important that you understand where you're going when you go into the backcountry. Whether that be a short day hike or ski tour or you're heading out for a weeklong backpacking trip. If you are bringing a map and compass it is advisable that you also know how to use them. Consider taking a land navigation course if you're serious about backcountry travel. A handheld GPS device is great but in a pinch you can also use your phone. With an app like Gaia GPS, you can get a full navigation experience. Learn the ins and outs of how to use a handheld GPS device and practice often. Pro-tip! You can even load a GPX file onto your GPS device and follow your route!
Bring plenty of water with you! Most backpacks these days have room for a water bladder and it is advisable that you pack at least half a liter of water per hour of activity. This often times is not enough especially when it is quite hot or you know your exertion levels will be high. As part of your water plan you should pack a filter or a way to purify water so that you can treat water along the trail for safe drinking. It's always smart to toss in a few extra purifier tablets (like Aqua-Mira) just in case something happens to your filter or purifier.
Once again, you'll want to have planned and prepared in advance for your trip. You know your body better than anybody else so pack the right amount of food for your trip, and then some. I like to advise people to always bring more food than they need just in case something were to happen.
Foul Weather Clothing
If you're reading this right now and you don't have both a rain jacket and pants in your daypack, please take a moment and go add those things to your pack, and come back to continue reading. You should always be prepared with both a rain jacket and pants. Nothing will put you in a dangerous situation faster than not being prepared to handle wet precipitation while out on your hike. So, do yourself a favor and always keep these things in your pack. Consider also packing or wearing layers that can dry quickly. Staying dry while out in nature is the key to staying comfortable. It is recommended that you also pack extra insulating layers such as a down or synthetic jacket in case temperatures plummet.
Fire, Light, Rescue Items
Every wilderness traveler should have a kit put together that will provide you with means to start an emergency fire, provide light so you can see in the dark, and items that can help signal your rescue. A Whistle is recommended. Many backpacks these days have a whistle built right into the sternum strap. Remember, you just want to be prepared for anything that may happen. Of course, you're probably not going to have to spend a surprise night out in nature, but you want to be prepared in case you do. Having this kit put together and stored in your pack will help with that.
Another item that must live your backpack is a first aid kit. There are many companies that sell whole kits that you can basically buy, toss in your pack, and forget about. You'll want to have a way to treat minor scraps and cuts, a sprained ankle, or an allergic reaction. I recommend making sure at a minimum you pack band aids, gauze, ibuprofen, Benadryl , and even a "bleed-stop" kit. An important note is that first aid in the backcountry is limited by your knowledge to administer that care. Consider taking a course in wilderness first aid or at least CPR.
A good multi tool will can go a long way. Don't go overkill on this. You do not need a Swiss army knife with 108 functions. A solid multi tool will help you with first aid items, gear repair, and a whole lot more.
Having something to protect you from the elements is a necessary in case you find yourself spending a surprise night in the backcountry, either lost or dealing with an injury. Consider at the very least bringing a space blanket to add some extra warmth and protection from the elements. A lightweight tarp is a good option if you want to take that a step further.
Sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen are important items to use on every venture out into nature. UV rays can cause serious damage over the course of a lifetime. If you are more active in the outdoors this is extremely important to keep in mind. Remember that very snow conditions, or time spent on the water, carry increased risk of sun burn and UV exposure due to the reflection of the suns rays.