Water – Alright, this one was on the original list, but it’s even more important now since your usual water sources may be dried up or contaminated beyond your water filter’s ability from grazing livestock. You should carry two to six quarts of water per day depending on your exertion level and the length of your trip. A good way to check if you’re staying hydrated – check the color of your urine, it should be colorless or pale yellow. This may not be the easiest thing to do when you’re out in nature peeing on the ground, but do your best. Also note that water alone won’t do the trick. If you drink too much water without replacing electrolytes you risk suffering from hyponatremia – a fancy word for a life-threatening condition where there is not enough sodium in your body fluids. Quick fix – munch on some trail mix with salty peanuts every hour.
Sunglasses – Protect your eyes from sunburn. Seriously, this is actually possible. How do I know this you ask? Because I did exactly that while snowboarding due to the bright sun reflecting off the bright snow, but the summer sun can do the deed as well.
Brimmed hat – Added protection for your head, ears, and neck. I don’t know about you ladies, but sunburning the part in my hair is THE WORST!
Bandana – A great multi-functional tool to get wet and wrap around your neck or over your head to keep cool.
Sunscreen – I know this is another repeat, but I wanted to include it for those I-don’t-need-to-wear-sunscreen-because-I-don’t-burn types. Avoid skin cancer; all the cool kids are doing it.
Breathable clothing – Add light-colored to that description as well. This will help protect your skin from the sun and cuts down on evaporative sweat loss. Plus if we want to get more scientifically sweaty, loose-fitting clothing encourages airflow and cools the skin through convection.
I’ll add one more item to my backpack, and that is an umbrella. This UV ray-shielding device isn’t just for rain folks. You’ll be thankful you packed it when the only natural shade you can find is under a sage brush.
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