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Emergency Tools and Supplies that Every Hiker Should Carry with Them

In addition to hiking with a backpack, anyone hitting the trails should also keep a stash of essential tools and supplies somewhere on their person in case of an emergency. Read below to find out what to pack!

A hiker with muddy boots standing on the boardwalk section of a trail.
A kit of emergency tools and supplies that all hikers should carry in their pockets.

Always Hike Prepared

Most hikers (at least the smart ones) carry a backpack with them when they hit the trails. Typically, we fill our packs with things like water, food, extra clothing, a first aid kit, a flashlight, and a few other essential supplies that can assist us in case of an emergency. But what happens if, for some reason, you get separated from your pack during your excursion?


Now, you might not think this could ever happen to you. But in truth, the odds are never zero. In 2016, a couple and their dog needed to be rescued from Bronte Creek Provincial Park after sliding down an embankment, essentially stranding themselves. In 2020, a woman spent the night awaiting rescue at Mount Nemo Conservation Area after falling down a 40-foot crevasse. And just last year, over 30 emergency responders were called in to rescue a man who fell down an embankment near Tew's Falls in Hamilton.


The parks listed above are all fan favourites in the Halton Region, and many of us have undoubtedly hiked them numerous times. So, it just goes to show that even during the most routine hiking excursions, accidents can still happen. And if they do, it always helps to be prepared.


Your "Oh Sh*T Kit"

Essentially, an Oh Sh*t Kit is a pocket-sized kit containing a few important tools and supplies that could help you in an emergency situation, but that you hope you never have to use. Now, there is no "one size fits all" list for what you should include, and your kit may change depending on where you're going and what time of year it is (among other variables).


You should think of this kit as an extension of what you already carry in your backpack for emergencies, but it should also function to provide essential survival tools should you find yourself separated from your pack.


Oh Sh*T Kit Contents:

Here is an example of some items that you might choose to add to your Oh Sh*t Kit. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does contain many essential things that you should always carry on you:

  • Knife

  • Flashlight

  • Lighter

  • Compass

  • Waterproof matches

  • Farro rod and striker

  • Paracord (this is Pskook survival cord which contains waxed flax tinder, fishing line, and cotton thread)

  • Fatwood (for tinder)

  • Cotton tinder

  • Fuel tablet

  • Water purification tablets

  • Survival tool card

Constructing Your Own Pocket Emergency Kit

What you choose to include in your own emergency kit is entirely up to you. But as a suggestion, you should prioritize your items according to:

  1. Where you're going

  2. What you can expect to encounter

  3. The weather or terrain conditions

  4. Survival priorities (e.g. for winter hiking it would be fire and shelter)


AUTHOR'S NOTE: Since I predominantly hike in Ontario's Halton Region, my kit was assembled with one major focus: being able to start a fire to keep warm. I also always carry an emergency blanket in my pockets as well, it just doesn't fit into this particular kit. My backpack is always stocked with food, water, and a small array of other supplies that will help keep me safe and alive in an emergency (like having to spend the night in the woods unexpectedly).


Stay Safe and Happy Hiking!

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