What I put in my daypack for a short hike in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness

Our tours are five hours long and cover 4 to 5 miles of walking. Below is a list of items I always take:

The wilderness is open year-round, so, hydration is vital as you move in the wilderness. The weather and what you wear are always factors for staying hydrated. Extreme heat over 38 degree Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) is common during late spring and throughout the summer. Winter and some Fall days have blowing winds nearing freezing temperatures.

It’s important to know cotton clothing does poorly when hiking. For example, denim clothing is cotton, and when wet, will retain moisture. Cotton will draw your body heat away, and if in cold temperatures, freeze, speeding symptoms for hypothermia. Wearing wool or polyester fabrics is vital. I like to wear my UV half buff any time of the year to keep from sunburn or to keep warm.

A first aid kit, headlamp, and wool beanie are always with me during our hikes. There are hardened sinkholes, loose rocks, and land bridges common through the wilderness. Not watching where you step might bring a visit from local emergency service personnel, or worse, being stuck and immobile for hours or days. The first aid kit holds all essentials for its size in a day pack and includes wood matches and a lighter. The headlamp and wool beanie are precautions in case we get stuck overnight.

I like to take small handheld radios and give one to our travel guest(s). Some guests want to wander out of sight for either a restroom break or to get a glimpse around the corner. If you turn enough corners, you will quickly lose your sense of direction. A compass & map are always my back-ups to a GPS device in case the batteries fail. Remember, the wilderness is 167 square kilometers (65 square miles) of badlands.

Salty and sweet snacks are great while out walking. I like to pack Jelly Belly jelly beans and some Clif bars. For salty snacks, it is bacon jerky and salted nuts. If needed, in worst case scenarios, I open either the electrolyte gels or electrolyte chews.

Don’t forget your camera! Travel guests have high-end equipment and gear that I help carry. Some, take photos with their cell phone or take in the moment through meditation.