A lost lady and why hiking essentials matter

With the temperatures rising and holiday season kicking off, more and more people are going out for hikes. This is, of course, great and something I really want to encourage everyone to do. Taking some essentials with you will keep you comfortable and safe while enjoying the outdoors.

The reason why I write this post is simple: it is important and too often we come across hikers who are clearly not prepared. Just a couple of weeks ago we were on a weekend getaway in Germany and were called over by some people. They had come across a French woman who was hiking but got completely lost.

She didn’t know where she was staying or where her car was parked, she had no wallet with her, no water, no food, nothing and to make things worse she didn’t speak any other language than French. We were called to translate and to try and make some sense out of this story.

All she knew was that she and her husband had parked near a place “with water and a lot of cyclists” (that was honestly all she knew). She had wandered off for a little stroll while her husband stayed behind in the camper. That was about six hours ago.

She and her husband had parked near a place “with water and a lot of cyclists”

Luckily she knew his phone number by heart and after a few tries we were able to reach him. We explained where his wife was and that he could come pick her up, but since he wasn’t familiar with the area he had no idea how to get there. He apparently was parked at a certain branch of gas station, but the locals only knew of one that was a two hour drive away. After a while we concluded to meet halfway. The people who found the lady set off for an hour long drive and were hoping the husband actually understood where he needed to be.

We never heard back from them, so we assume they must have managed to find one another. This story could have ended a lot worse…

The ten essentials

The classic hiking essentials might be an overkill for a stroll in your local park, but I would never leave home for a day hike without them. The ‘ten essentials’ were first listed in the seventies and served as a guideline for mountaineers. The list has been updated throughout the years and is widely acknowledged for all outdoor activities. It boils down to ten systems:

  1. Navigation (topographic map, compass)
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses, sunscreen & hat)
  3. Insulation (clothing for coldest possible weather)
  4. Illumination (flashlight & batteries)
  5. First-aid kit
  6. Fire (lighter, matches)
  7. Repair kit and tools (knive, multi-tool, duct tape)
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter

Usually when we go out for a day hike we take about eight out of ten. We tend to leave out the ‘fire’ and ’emergency shelter’. In Belgium it’s not really a worry to not make it out of the woods before dark. It is harder to find a big enough forest to spend a whole day hiking than it is to find your way out of one.


This was my pack on a day hike in Norway. I’d rather take too much, than too little.

Dog essentials

When you go out on a hike, please don’t forget to take some dog essentials either. For us this means:

  1. Water and bowl
  2. Food and treats
  3. ID tag
  4. Poo bags
  5. Extra leash (we let her roam on a long leash while hiking, but I usually take a short one with me in case the trail is crowded)

What else?

Next to all the above we usually take our smartphone and a battery pack, our wallet and I always make sure to have the address of the car park or campsite. I either take a business card, write down the full address or pin my location in a maps app on my phone.

Do you have any personal essentials you can’t leave home without?

Happy hiking everyone!

5 thoughts on “A lost lady and why hiking essentials matter

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