Letter: Veteran hiker has ideas on what to bring on trek

Jan. 17, 2013 @ 11:49 PM


I’ve had many extended backpacking trips. I’ve probably covered well over 10,000 miles. Probably over 99 percent of my hiking has been alone.

I always tell another adult where I’m going and when I plan to return, and try to stick to my plans. I try to travel as light as possible, but there are some things I always take with me. I take my compass, flashlight, signal mirror, Bic lighter, whistle, wrist watch, and roll of toilet paper.

If lost, the roll of toilet paper can be thrown over a tree. Saturate the tree with it. This tree full of paper can be seen by searchers from a great distance. Carry the toilet paper in a waterproof bag. (Wet toilet paper doesn’t throw easily.)

With the watch and compass, if the terrain permits, you can walk about 20 minutes in one direction. If you find nothing, return to your starting point and walk 20 minutes in another direction. You may find a trail, road, or recognizable point. Learn how to use the signal mirror. On a clear day it can be seen at a great distance.

If you hike frequently in the backcountry or just occasionally it is a very good idea to obtain a book or literature on wilderness survival and study it intensely. Your local library can help tremendously with this project. The library will also have literature on plants and animals of the area. This can be helpful and informative.

It’s a good idea to wear bright, highly visible clothing. Some people want to look like Rambo. They are covered in camouflage. Are they trying to hide? What are they hiding from?

A big machete hangs from their waist. The machete is a very good tool for chopping wood, cutting down trees and hacking your way through a jungle, but do you really need this large heavy knife?

Your tent should be a bright color. You can get tents that blend in with the forest, but I’m sure after a long days hike, you can sleep very well in a yellow, or blaze orange shelter. If you are stranded on a ridge in the Smokies, you want something that can be seen by searchers. You want to be as conspicuous as possible.


Plan your trip well.

Obtain information about the area you will be hiking.

Obtain permits and/or reservations if required.

Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.

Travel light, but take the items you will need.

Don’t forget your compass, flashlight, matches, whistle, signal mirror, and map.

Morgan Briggs

Pigeon Forge