Before you head out on that first camping, hiking, or backpacking trip of the season, there are some things you should do first. You should plan ahead, be prepared and stocked up ahead of time, not only with your supplies, but also with your equipment. Having a checklist and making sure you have everything you need before you leave will help ensure an enjoyable and safe outing. Here are just a few of many tips I consider useful.
First, before you go hiking or camping, make sure that all your equipment is in good working order. Start by setting up your tent in the back yard. Make sure all of the stakes are still there and that the poles are not bent or broken. For the spring pole dome style tents, make sure that the poles themselves aren’t splitting and that the ends fit securely. While your tent is up, check for any rips or tears, and this would also be a good time to apply a sealer to the seams. Attempting to stop leaks while it’s raining is no fun. On more than one occasion the rain has run me out of my tent to my vehicle. Unroll sleeping bags, and check the seams, zippers, and inner liner as well as the outer jacket. Repair any rip’s or tears as needed. Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you.
The next thing you need to do is check any cooking equipment you intend to use. When not operating properly, stoves or other cooking equipment can be fire hazards or make you sick. Check the equipment to be sure the valves are not leaking and still work properly. Any rubber seals that show wear should be replaced and cooking surfaces should be clean. This is also the right time to check your backpacks, ice chests, and cooking utensils, a can opener, which is one of the most commonly forgotten items.
Plates, cups, pots pans, staples like napkins, trash bags, salt and pepper, you get the idea. Whether you are hiking, backpacking or on a camping trip, there are some items that you should always have. One of them is a well stocked first aid kit. While ideally you don’t want to get injured, you still have to be prepared. Even a slight nick or cut can get infected if not sanitized and taken care of right away. At the very least your first aid supplies should include antiseptic wipes, band aids, and some sterile gauze pads. It is also a good idea to have some kind of compass when on a hike, a highly reflective surface for signaling, and a good old fashion flint and steel kit.
Prior to heading out on your trip, you should check out the weather forecast before you go, and even if it is supposed to be nice, bring at least one extra set of clothes, a waterproof jacket, and extra socks. If at all possible bring along a battery operated weather radio and stay up to date on weather. It is a well known fact that weather can change on a moment’s notice. The least bit of preparation could save your life.