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Be prepared for treks in the backcountry

It is important to be well prepared, even if you’re only planning for a day trip

It is important that you’re well prepared for any backcountry hiking, snowshoeing, skiing or snowmobile adventure.

When it comes to backcountry hiking, snowshoeing and skiing, it is important to be well prepared — even if you’re only planning for a day trip.

Sometimes an afternoon outing can turn into an overnight in the wild when unexpected weather or a missed turn keeps you trekking for longer than you had planned.

Be prepared for such occasions by taking along 10 essentials each time you go out on a trek or even driving through the mountain.

The 10 essentials checklist:

1. Extra water: Bring enough water for unexpected delays. How much you bring depends on the terrain. For instance, a desert hiker should carry and drink about four liters of water per day. If snow or water is available on the trail, all you may need are matches or a water filter.

2. Additional food: Bring extra lightweight, high-protein foods to give you energy for a cold night in the woods.

3. Extra clothing for changing conditions.

4. Map, compass and GPS (fresh batteries).

5. Headlamp or flashlight (extra batteries).

6. First aid kit.

7. Shelter material (large trash bags or space blanket): I like my ultra-light bevy bag made of space blanket material that takes up very little room in my daypack.

8. Fire starting kit or small backpacking stove.

9. Pocket knife or multi-tool.

10. Whistle or signal mirror

Those who hike, snowshoe and ski in avalanche country should also add two more items to the checklist – an avalanche beacon and probe.

As well, if you are using the backcountry, the experts recommend that during snow months you take avalanche classes led by certified instructors, in order to learn about snow stability recognition and rescue techniques.

Hope Search and Rescue personnel recommend that even when carrying the 10 essentials, you should take further precautions.

First, leave a copy of your planned route in your vehicle and/or with a friend.

Next, tell someone when you expect to return and give them a phone number to call if they have not heard from you by that time. Of course, you should stick to your plan.

In the case of a search, we will start searching from your start point looking for you along your planned route.

Mario Levesque,

HSAR manager