Here's a list of what I carry:
- Daypack: 2000-3000 cu/in with a thick waist belt and shoulder straps. I prefer a panel loading design with accessory pockets and lashing straps to keep everything organized.
- Shell Jacket: a waterproof, breathable parka to keep rain and wind at bay
- Insulating jacket: a polyester fleece jacket that will keep you warm even if soaking wet, to be layered under the shell parka.
- Clothing extras: a wool or poly fleece hat, spare pair of socks, bandannas, gaiters if the trail is muddy or snowy, gloves.
- Water: I use a 3 liter hydration system, and bring at least 2-4 liters extra. In the hot months on a strenuous climb I plan for at least 1 liter per two miles. I also bring along a water purification system to be able to treat more water as we go.
- Food: trail food should be high in calorie - especially in carbs for energy - and you should have more than enough to get through the day. You should also plan on enough to ration you through at least another full day in case something happens and you are forced to spend the night. Trail mix is an obvious choice, but beef jerky, power bars, cheese, pepperoni, summer sausage, all make great trail food.
- Headlamp/Flashlight: inevitably, you will find yourself needing to start in the early morning hours or end up losing daylight at the end of a hike. A flashlight is nice, but a headlamp is incredibly more convenient. Remember, the forest canopy will add about an hour of darkness to both sunrise and sunset.
- Trail book and map with compass: It doesn't take long to learn how to use a compass with your map, and your map is useless if you don't know which direction you're facing. Mine come with me regardless of how well groomed the trails are.
- Personal items: things like bug repellent, hand lotion, lip balm, sun screen, purel hand sanitizer, tissues.
- Medications: In a medium sized pill bottle I carry a few doses each of these medications - motrin, excedrin, sudafed, and regular tylenol for aches, pains, sinus headaches; pepcid complete tabs, gas-ex, and imodium for stomach problems; Benedryl for allergic reactions
- Hiking/Trekking poles: like ski poles, most are adjustable and have a smaller basket to help with mud. You'll be amazed how well these things will save your knees and allow you to move quicker. Granted, I look like a hiking praying mantis with them, but they are a joint saver. And they can be used to splint a broken leg or hold up a temporary shelter if need be.
- Essentials Kit: the magical bag! I will break down the essentials kit below...
The Essentials Kit is a grouping of various sub kits all kept in a small stuff sack:
- First aid kit: very basic, it has bandaids, gauze pads, mole skin, an ace bandage, some antibiotic ointment, alcohol pads
- Emergency overnight kit: a tube tent, a pair of space blankets, matches in a waterproof container, firestarter sticks, an emergency whistle
- A basic repair kit: a length of nylon cord, a backpacking roll of duct tape, safety pins, a needle and spool of black thread
- A leatherman or swiss army knife
- Water Treatment system: I currently have a Steri-pen ultraviolet water purifier, but have also used a couple of other small micron filters. If you can stand the taste of iodine, you can carry potable aqua tabs.
- Toilet paper: for when nature calls while out in nature. remember to bury it...