What’s on your hiking checklist?

Doug and Chuck start off on the Butcher Jones Trail at Saguaro Lake

Doug and Chuck start off on the Butcher Jones Trail at Saguaro Lake

 

Spring in Arizona always brings a renewed excitement of outdoor activity. It’s the best time for spring training baseball, festivals, picnics, wildflower watching and day hiking. I already have found myself plotting courses to the Superstition, Catalina and White mountains. I’ve dusted off my day pack in anticipation of my next hike. But first it’s time to do a little equipment inventory before hitting the trail again, so I’m compiling another day hiking checklist. (I knew the last one was outdated because it listed such items as “fanny pack” and “film.”) Please help me — could you suggest some additional items? Here’s what I have so far (in no particular order):

  • Water (100 oz. for my Camelbak M.U.L.E. hydration pack)
  • Compass/GPS
  • Maps (single sheet trail maps can be put in a waterproof pouch if phone service fails)
  • Hiking boots or shoes (I love my Keen’s – they seem to mold perfectly to my feet)
  • Hat (I’m learning to wear a hat that covers ears too.)
  • Gloves (for chilly mornings or steel cable hand-rails)
  • Small flash light or headlamp
  • Reflective emergency blanket
  • Cell phone (Fine, when it’s usable when in cell service area. Otherwise it’s feels like a “boat anchor.” So my phone usually serves as a timepiece and camera.)
  • Mophie Juice Pack Plus (To extend cell phone battery life)
  • Digital SLR Camera (Only if I’m sure I’m going to capture that National Geographic Photo Contest winning shot. Otherwise it’s just another “anchor.”)
  • Pair of binoculars (Best for those view trails when I’m sure I’ll use it – if not: “boat anchor.”)
  • Trash bag (Plain old plastic grocery bag, just for picking up picnic trash)
  • Hiking staff (I need just one pole — for extra balance and traction)
  • Rain poncho (Small fold-up type – but this really doesn’t get much use)
  • Tissue pack
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Gauze, bandages, corn cushions
  • Ace bandage
  • Tweezers/nail clippers or small Leatherman tool (but not too large or it’s just another, you guessed it: “boat anchor”)
  • Benadryl
  • Ibuprofen
  • Lip protection
  • Whistle (Mom always said to pack a whistle – even before the “Titanic” movie)
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Matches in waterproof container
  • Identification
  • Food for snacks or lunch including: fruit, jerky/beef stick/salami, trail mix, cheese, crackers, small sandwiches

Did I forget anything? Of course, not all hikes require ALL of these items. What items will be going into your day pack? I’d like to know about your day hiking tips and your hiking checklist recommendations!

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Stocking stuffer suggestions for the travel lover on your list

Even if you’re not Santa Claus, who has to consider who’s naughty or nice, you may be thinking of another list. Maybe you’re a travel aficionado; you already have a list of your own — a wish list — with visions of new destinations dancing in your head. Or perhaps you have a shopping list and you’re looking for a few hints for that travel lover in the family. Here’s a list of some suggested gift items for those stockings hung by the chimney with care:

Comfortable shoes

Although this stocking stuffer might not fit into most regular-sized Christmas stockings, this gift would show that you really care — at least about their feet. And for the time being, TSA still requires shoes be removed at airport security check-in sites. I recommend some comfortable slip-ons with ample foot support — for running from gate to gate. You don’t have to shell out the big bucks. For about $10, Avon.com sells soft indoor-outdoor unisex slippers that would be ideal. They actually don’t even look like slippers, with tread on the bottoms. Yet they are comfy, with memory foam inner soles. They also are wonderful for running around the hotel mezzanine at your next convention.

Traveler’s Survival Kit

You could get creative and devise a traveler’s survival kit of your own. Simply find a cosmetic or shaving kit bag and add some handy things necessities such as mini-luggage scale, luggage tags, hand sanitizer, three-ounce plastic containers for flights. Other items I would suggest are these handy foods and beverages for a long road trip or airline flight: tea bag, instant coffee, hot cocoa mix, lemonade, powder vitamins, noodle soup. These can be easily and conveniently mixed with either hot or cold water. Visit minimus.biz or your local Target or Walmart store for an extensive selection of travel-sized toiletries.

Leatherman

For that hiker, biker, backpacker, camper, outdoors-lover on your list, a Leatherman knife tool makes the perfect gift. There are many varieties and models to fit just about any holiday budget. Remember to add it in the packed luggage for your flight!

Fruit

Fruit is the perennial favorite to fill up those oversized stockings which by now are hanging on the mantel. (Doesn’t it seem like Christmas stockings are get bigger and bigger? Do people actually think Santa is going to take time to stuff gifts all the way down into the toes of holiday hosiery?) Assorted types of fruit fit perfectly into the stocking toe. For road trips and domestic flights, apples and Mandarin oranges work very well, because they don’t have the mess! Also, those little Cuties Clementines are in season!

Binoculars

Everyone who travels should have a pair of binoculars – either in their checked bags or carry-on. You never know where you’ll be when you need binoculars. They’re not just for bird-watching. You may be at a conference in Cleveland and want to get a better view of the Great Lakes Science Center or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame from your room atop the Marriott.

Packable Dinnerware

We love these colorful dishes and plates from Fozzils.com. We found ours at our local REI store. They are completely flat for packing for use as dishes and cutting surfaces, but the corners snap together and convert into bowls for cereal or even soups, since they are heat resistant to 110 degrees. These are lightweight and since they’re flat, they will fit almost everywhere. They’d make welcomed gifts by pet-owning travelers too!

Extra long cables and charger cords

Finally here’s something almost every traveler would appreciate: And it’s a must for the iPhone owner in the family who’s always on the go. This xlSync Extra Long Sync Cable is a practical stocking stuffer. Extending 6.5 feet long, it charges at the same rate as the original equipment one from Apple, and works with all iPhone, iPad, iPod models except the iPod Shuffle — from cablejive.com. For a longer cord extension to get around the tables at the airport coffee shop, consider the 10-foot cable from Khomo, available from Amazon.

Do our readers have any other gift ideas for travelers? We always love to hear about new travel gadgets!