As you may already know, Alberta is packed with epic scenery, wildlife, and both serene and challenging treks alike. Whether you’re hunting, trapping, fishing, or simply just getting outside, chances are you will be hiking long distances from time to time. In this article, we would like to highlight a few items that can be easily packed for long hikes along with your other equipment. In reality, there’s so much out there now that the list could be endless, but in this article, we will focus on those that are versatile across seasons and are very easy to come by from a practical standpoint.
If you rolled your eyes at this one, you’re probably not alone. Many people overlook survival blankets, or simply don’t care about them, especially if they are experienced outdoorsmen or familiar with their travel route. You may have also heard the general blanket statement of “you never expect the worst to happen”. This is true, but a phrase that can also be easily overlooked.
So here’s out take on survival blankets – why not pack one? We’re not talking anything bulky that you need to roll up and add to your backpack. We’re simply talking about the thin aluminum sheets that are folded into a small package the size of a wallet. They are extremely cheap, can be purchased from any outdoor store and most hardware stores (e.g. home depot), they are very lightweight, and their small size makes them easy to pack. You may never need it, but even if you don’t use it, there isn’t really any drawback to keeping one in your pack. In the extremely unfortunate event that you are stuck somewhere for a while, especially overnight, a survival blanket can be a life saver…literally.
GPS watches are highly popular, and if you’re an avid outdoorsman, chances are you have at least looked into these before. So while the idea of using them for outdoor recreation obviously isn’t original to us, it’s still worth promoting some of their capabilities.
First, the GPS aspect is highly useful, both for safety and efficient navigation. We would stress this point if you have recently moved or are planning on exploring unfamiliar territory. Especially if you’re keen on longer treks, it can be really easy to have a mental lapse and forgot the navigational details from a portion of your hike.
Secondly, it’s a watch! It’s really easy to get caught up in all the fancy features that separate different brands and models, but don’t forget that having a reliable watch on your wrist can go a long way when planning your hike and evaluating throughout.It will keep you on track and will be the best tool you can have to know if you need to turn around or not.
Knee and/or Ankle Sleeves
These are kind of like sports medicine braces, but much more generalized, lightweight, and slim in design. They are extremely easy to pack and even more easy to wear. So why would you want one? If you have experienced knee or ankle pain before, and especially if you experience knee or ankle pain/stiffness with long duration activity, then these can make a huge difference throughout the hike.
Knee sleeves are also highly popular for those with osteoarthritis or inflammatory conditions, and athletes wear them quite as well. They offer firm compression around the knee joint, which is one of the best methods to reduce swelling and inflammation. Furthermore, they are usually fairly insulated (although you can get ones for better breathability), so the retainment on heat provides therapeutic relief for pain. Lastly, many people begin to avoid activities like hiking as they begin to experience joint problems. This is problematic because one of the best things you can do to help your joints is to keep moving. By wearing one of these sleeves, you can help yourself work through any pain or stiffness while treating the problem at the same time, and what better way than to do that outside!
Don’t worry – these are available in a wide variety of sizes. You can find ankle and knee sleeves for the thinnest limbs, and you can even find knee sleeves up to XXXL or even higher. So don’t worry if you’re concerned about a potential lack of plus size knee or ankle braces, as there are definitely lots to choose from. For more information about braces and sleeves like this, check out the educational resource Brace Access.
Tylenol and Advil
Again, not very original, but it can make a huge difference when you have both. Advil, Ibuprofen, and Motrin are basically all the same thing: anti-inflammatories. If pain and stiffness is related to inflammation, then these over-the-counter medications will make a huge difference, especially if symptoms arise while you’re on the trail. On the other hand, Tylenol won’t help as much with inflammatory pain and swelling, but nevertheless, it’s a good pain-reliever that can be taken at the same time as Advil. They can make a great combination with a knee or ankle sleeve, and travel packs of these will be cheap and super small, so they won’t take up any room in your pack.
Just a word of caution: Please follow the recommended dosages on the packages and do not use these as a routine method of relieving symptoms. Advil is extremely tough on the stomach (I ended up with an ulcer once, which was partially due to too much Advil over time) and Tylenol is hard on your liver. Don’t combine them with alcohol, as that will compound the negative effects.
Already packed a spare pair of socks? Pack one more! You never know when your feet are going to sink into wet or moist ground, or just fall into the water altogether. While it’s fine to expect to get wet and dirty and continue to hike through it, over time you will definitely want to keep your feet healthy and change into a dry pair of socks. If you don’t have time to air out your current pair or start a fire to dry them, then packing them away and slipping on your spare pair will be an extremely welcoming proposition for your feet. Again, you probably know this already, but for those who are slightly less experienced in the bush, it can help to have a friendly reminder!
In summary, these are just items that we find often slip under the radar when people are packing for their outdoor adventures. While none of these are absolutely essential, all we ask is that you keep them in mind and at least consider the benefits to packing them. Aside from that, we hope you have a chance to get out and enjoy the Fall scenery!