Spontaneous day hiker? Here’s what to pack in your adventure bag

20140819_135836Sometimes when I need outdoor therapy I jump in my Jeep and head off, destination unknown.  I’m usually seeking scenic roadside stops or hiking trails; trailheads are common roadside attractions throughout the state of Maine.  Most trails give you a quick map and trail distances in miles for each trail.  When you don’t have a pre-planned hiking destination, you never know how long your adventure may be.

That’s where the spontaneous adventure bag comes in handy.  Keep it in your vehicle and you’ll always be prepared for a day hike in Maine!  Remember this list is for your average day hikes during the warmer months that range from half an hour to 2-3 hours long.  For longer hikes and cold(er) weather hikes you will want to pack extra (and warmer) supplies.

  • Water bottle- maybe two depending on how long you hike.  Make sure they’re filled!
  • Snacks- beef jerky, trail mix and other snack items that can be left in a adventure bag in a vehicle that won’t spoil.
  • Sunscreen- you can get a sunburn even on cloudy days.
  • Bug dope- the real stuff works best but if you’re not a DEET fan there are other less toxic options.
  • Lightweight jacket- it can get pretty cold the higher up you go, or if the sun goes down.
  • Poncho- because the weather in Maine is about as predictable as which way the deer in the middle of the road is going to run when it sees your car.
  • Reflective blanket- a good backup plan if you get lost.  Works to keep you warm or to make a makeshift shelter.
  • Knife- a good folding multi-tool is best, and serves many purposes.
  • Compass- even if you’re not an expert with a compass you can tell which direction you are walking in, and backtrack in the opposite direction if you get lost.  Notice I didn’t mention a map- most spontaneous hikers don’t carry a map for the area they are hiking, but if you can find one for the area you are hiking I highly recommend you bring it with you.
  • First aid kit- because you never know what’s going to happen.
  • Waterproof matches- these will come in handy if you get lost and need to stay warm over night.
  • Headlamp- again if you get lost- nothing worse than being lost in the Maine woods at night when the moon isn’t visible.  It gets really dark out there.
  • Extra batteries for headlamp- see above.
  • Whistle- the mountains and hills create quite an echo.  This comes in handy if you get lost.

My best advice for a successful spontaneous day hike in Maine is to stay on the marked trail, make sure you have enough water, and prepare for the unexpected.  If you need to leave the trail make sure you pay attention to landmarks so you can easily get back to the trail.  Above all have a great time and enjoy the beauty of the untamed Maine woods! ↟