There are some items that I carry in my backpack, no matter where I’m hiking.
I always carry a knife of some type, preferably a multi-use type folding knife. A knife is a basic survival tool. I like the Gerber Crucial Tool, with the carabineer built in. I consider a lock blade to be essential. I use it to cut paracord, open packages, cut moleskin, and as a bottle opener. Some knifes may include eating utensils, scissors, tweezers and a magnifying glass. Larger knives can be used for cutting brush, preparing your campsite and making shelter.
The next item I don’t leave home without—a LED flashlight. Yes, you can use your phone, but I prefer to conserve my phone’s battery. I have given several flashlights away to unprepared hikers who have hiked too far to return in daylight, often on trails that are dangerous in the dark. My favorite flashlight is a Fenix PD35.
Not only because it’s so bright, but because I can recharge it on the way to my hike, while I’m driving. If I’m carrying an external battery for my phone and gps, I can also use it to recharge my flashlight. Todays LED flashlights are reliable, bright, often waterproof and are energy misers. Some include strobe settings for signaling. You never know what can happen, it’s possible you could need it as a SOS beacon in certain situations.
First Aid Kit
And lastly, I have a first aid kit appropriate for my hike. I prefer the adventure type, in waterproof bags.
I usually add ibuprofen and a whistle. Also I include a Quickclot sponge, this is a proven first aid addition, used by the military, that will stop bleeding fast. If you’ve had your kit for a while, routinely replace expired items.
Even with all of the gear in the world, there is no substitute for common sense. Know your physical limitations. Have a map and research the details of your hike. Don’t hike alone, let others know your intended route and expected time of return. Watch the weather, flash floods can be deadly, just like the summer heat can lead to dehydration. Don’t head out without the proper gear, ability or knowledge. Remember to follow Leave No Trace rules.