10 Essentials Checklist


So you’ve mapped out a hike, and you’re just about to hit the trailhead.  Besides a full belly and an adventurous spirit, what else could you possibly need? 

A few things, it turns out.  Ten things.  Ten essential things.  For a safe and fun day on LA County Trails, don’t forget these 10 Essentials.

  1. Navigation.  Whether a traditional printed map and compass or a smartphone with GPS, make sure you’re not relying on luck or memory to get around.  If you’re going with GPS navigation, don’t forget to download the Trails LA County app – it includes offline navigation so you won’t miss a step when you venture out of cell phone range.
  2. Sun protection.  Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a bandana or hat (preferably a giant, floppy one, but a basic ballcap will work) will all help you stay comfortable and safe on the trail.  Don’t forget to re-apply sunscreen on long, sunny hikes.
  3. Insulation.  Think layers.  Being able to add or shed light layers of clothing is critical in a climate like ours where cool mornings often lead to hot afternoons.
  4. Illumination.  It’s important to bring timeless works of theology or philosophy on your hike to illuminate your…. Actually this means flashlights and such.  In all seriousness, while all LA County trails are closed after dark it’s important to be prepared for emergencies.  Packing a small LED headlamp, flashlight, or lantern will make you feel like a wise old sage if you find out you need it.
  5. First aid.  We highly recommend buying a pre-packed first-aid kit from an outdoor or sporting goods store – it’s an easy and efficiently-packed way to ensure you have all the essentials.  While the vast majority of trail outings happen without complication, it’s always important to be prepared for stings, slips, scrapes, bumps, bites and bruises.
  6. Fire.  A lighter is small and light.  It’s good to have one in your pack at all times just in case.
  7. Repair kit and tools.  This will differ based on how you’re using the trail.  Mountain bikers will want tire patch tools, long-haul backpackers may want to include a trowel for burying waste, or a patch kit for a tent.  Equestrians and dog owners will want to supplement for their particular needs as well.
  8. Nutrition.  Food like granola and snack bars pack a lot of calories and energy into a small package.
  9. Hydration.  Bring more than enough water for you, young children and any canine companion who may be along for the hike.  A good rule of thumb is 20 additional oz of water for each hour you’ll spend outside.
  10. Emergency shelter.  If it’s summer in LA County, you can probably leave this one out.  In any case, keep in mind that overnight temperatures and high-elevation winds can lead to a very cold night for anyone stuck out on the trail.