Is there anything more challenging, yet rewarding, than an exhilarating hiking expedition? With summer vacation peeking its head around the corner, many of our Award participants and Alumni will be taking to the outdoors to reach their personal development goals. Nature’s gorgeous scenery is usually reward enough for many an adventurer, but did you know that your outdoor adventures can count towards helping complete the Award and not just the Adventurous Journey. Hiking is a great way to get in your Physical Recreation and Orienting is a skill that comes in handy when you find yourself off the beaten path. So, if you’re ready for an adventure, but not sure where to start, start right here, with our Duke of Ed Guide for all your trail conquering needs.
1. First Aid Kit
Even if you aren’t a regular forest dweller, a first-aid-kit is always great to have around. You never know when you’re going to be in need of some serious gauze! The Canadian Red Cross offers a 10-unit plastic box for $23.46. This starter kit includes the usual accessories: bandages, tape and gauze, and some other nifty items as well, like an emergency blanket, CPR mask and an accident record book – you know, for the people who like to keep a scrapbook of their injuries.
Every great adventurer needs to be able to find his or her way around. Struggling in Geography class? Don’t know your right from your left? Unfortunately, Google maps isn’t as useful in the middle of the bush; but worry not – The Silva Guide 426 compass has you covered. This easy-to-use device is perfect for beginners. For only $25 at Mountain Equipment Co-op, the Silva Guides you from east to west, and lets you take in your surroundings with a full size sighting mirror. Good luck losing it. It’s a bright orange colour, so it’s impossible to miss!
3. Multi-Tool Set
Every good boy-scout or girl-guide knows the importance of being prepared. Is there any individual more prepared than one who can whip a can opener out of his or her pocket at any given time? That doesn’t impress you? Okay, how about a bottle opener, a screwdriver, or a knife? How about all of the above? You’ve heard of the infamous Swiss army knife? Now I want to introduce you to the Outbound Multi Tool Set from Canadian Tire. It’s much more than a simple cutting knife. It transforms into wire-cutters, scissors, 11 carbon bits and two LED Lights. $29.99 for a tiny arsenal in your pocket.
4. Water bottle
It’s easy to become dehydrated while spending hours under the sun, and on those hot and humid days, you’re going to want a water bottle that keeps your water icy cool. Luckily, the Duke of Ed has an 18 oz. Stainless Steel Water bottle in their pop-up store that will do just the trick. For a cool $14, you can purchase yourself a water bottle that can clip easily onto your bag, has a wide mouth feature for ice-cubes, and most importantly, it’s BPA free.
5. Waterproof Match Case & Matches
Normally, we would caution you to stay away from matches – especially in a forest. However, while dangerous, it’s still important to carry them while on an excursion, and to make sure they are protected from the elements. If you are hurt, or get lost, it is imperative that you have the ability to start a fire, and matches are your easiest and cheapest option. Unless, of course, you possess the power of pyrokinesis. In which case, you won’t need this Exotac Matchcap Waterproof Match Case from Mountain Equipment Co-op. For $31, your tiny fire starters are protected from water and accompanied by replaceable match pads.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of exploring and forget to check the time. Even though the sun sets much later in the summer, it’s a good idea to carry a flashlight with you. You never know when the clouds will roll over, or you are going to come across a bat-cave that is begging to be explored! At $10.97, this Home Depot Waterproof Dynamo LED Flashlight is perfect to toss into your bag. It runs without batteries, is water proof, and has three different light settings – a perfect aid for those ghost stories you’ve secretly been dying to tell.
7. Bug Spray
Bug spray is an obvious but oft forgotten necessity. Failing to remember to bring this item along will later leave you scratching your head…and your arms, and your legs, and well, you get the idea. You can find bug spray at any local drug or grocery store. This particular brand of Off! Deep Woods Insect Repellent can be found at Shoppers Drug Mart. And while you’re at it – you should probably pick up some suntan lotion with a high UV ray protection as well! There really is nothing worse than a mosquito bite on top of a sunburn. Yikes!
Maybe you’re a bird watcher. Or maybe you’re more interested in being the first to snag a Bigfoot sighting. Either way, your experience will be enhanced with a set of binoculars. Stores like Bass Pro Shops have a nice selection of binoculars ranging in price and features.
9. Trail Guide
We are lucky to live in a country with such a vast array of beautiful Parks and Trails to explore. Believe it or not, sometimes being prepared can be fun. You don’t have to build yourself a colour coded excel sheet, (I know. That would be worse than scratching a sunburnt bug-bite!) but Leigh Mcadam’s Discover Canada offers an overview of Canada’s natural sites. It’s a great starting point for adventure seekers who actively attempt to avoid the decision making process, as the author provides insights into and stunning photographs of numerous Canadian trails. You can find the book for $27.21 on Indigo’s website.
Now that you have all your necessities, you need somewhere to put them! Picking the proper backpack can be a very personal undertaking. The important things is to find a bag that feels comfortable to you, because it’s going to be on your back for hours at a time. A good example, is the Gorilla 40 Ultralight Backpack on Gossamer Gear. It’s lightweight and has four built-in pockets, so you’re sure to leave nothing behind!
Hiking is a great way to stay active, but it can also be dangerous. Before you head out into the abyss, make sure you tell someone you trust where you are going, and what time you plan on returning home. And double check that your cell-phone battery is fully charged before heading out. There’s no way a deer is going to lend you its charger! Now, with this handy-dandy guide at your disposal, go forth and prosper, young explorers!