10+ Essentials for Every Hike

Be prepared for contingencies when you head out on Gorge trails

10+ Essentials for Every Hike
View from Augspurger Mountain Trail. (photographer: Joe Urmos)

Friends of the Columbia Gorge recommends you carry the following 10+ essential items every time you are hiking in the Gorge. Weather changes quickly here and it can be very windy because of the dramatic landscape. The more prepared you are, the better the experience you’ll have on the trail.

Don't head out to the Gorge without these items:

  1. Navigation - Printed hike description, compass, & map – we recommend the National Geographic Columbia River Gorge trails map
  2. Insulation - Extra clothing including rain and wind gear because it’s the Gorge!
  3. Nutrition - Extra food (don't forget electrolyte replacements)
  4. First Aid Supplies - see below for recommendations
  5. Illumination - Headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries
  6. Fire - Matches and fire starter
  7. Repair kit & tools - Knife, multipurpose tool, and duct tape
  8. Sun protection - Sunglasses, hat, and sunscreen
  9. Hydration - Extra water, water filter or water purifying tablets
  10. Whistle 
  11. Emergency Shelter - Blanket or bivy
  12. Trash bag - "Pack it in, pack it out"

Optional but recommended items include:

Learn more from Outdoor Project's Blog.

Make your Own First-Aid Kit

One of the most important items among the 10+ Essentials is a first-aid kit. It’s not meant to carry everything you could possibly need, but instead it should carry items that will address common hiker maladies and items that apply to your personal health situation.

While you can purchase ready-made first-aid kits, we recommend tweaking it to suit your needs or even assembling your own. This will ensure that you are familiar with its contents and understanding how to use what is in it. If you take a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course you will learn how to treat injuries and illnesses in backcountry settings using items in your pack and first aid kit.


A basic first aid kit should include:

  • Any prescription medications in a labeled bag
  • Several sealed, single use packs of ibuprofen, Imodium® (for upset stomach and diarrhea), and an antihistamine 
  • Moleskin and athletic tape
  • Various adhesive bandages of varying size
  • A small roll of sterile gauze
  • A CPR mask
  • Several pairs of latex or nitrile gloves
  • Alcohol based sanitizing gel
  • A pair of tweezers
  • A small knife or scissors
  • Antiseptic ointment, to be used only after cleaning a wound
  • Hydrocortisone cream for insect bites and poisonous plants
  • Second Skin® or liquid bandages
  • Safety pins
  • Electrolyte replacement powder (homemade or similar to Gatorade®) or honey
  • Triangle cloth or large bandana
  • SAM® Splint
  • Pack of tissues/roll of toilet paper
  • Your CPR/First aid card
(Adapted from American Hiking Society)