5 Things in my Hiking Backpack
Today I’m sharing some of the necessities I always carry in my backpack when we take day hikes with Bert and Ernie. For more on preparing for day hiking with dogs, check out this post.
Poop Bags (plus Container and Hand Sanitizer)
Gotta have poop bags when you’re walking one dog, let alone two! One of our favorite hacks is to toss a quart sized deli container in the backpack to 1) hold any mid-walk poops and 2) keep the smell to a minimum. Don’t worry though - this deli container NEVER gets used for anything else!
Snacks (plus Liquid IV and Dog Treats)
Our hikes aren’t usually all-day marathons, but it’s nice to know there’s a snack available in the backpack if I feel myself running a little low on energy. Some of our favorite human snacks to carry along on hikes are Peanut M&Ms (quick burst of protein + sugar - a throwback to our half marathon running days) and That’s It fruit bars.
I also toss a couple packets of Liquid IV (affiliate link) in the backpack for a hydration and electrolyte boost. These are particularly welcome on hot days and when we’re hiking at altitude outside of MN! And of course, there are always a few treats for Bert and Ernie floating around in the bag too.
Hand Warmers (plus Warm Skin and Musher’s Secret)
We love getting outside all year long - even during our cold Minnesota winters! To combat the cold, we buy hand and toe warmers (affiliate link) in bulk. We leave these in the car and always have an extra set in the backpack. Besides warming up fingers and toes, HotHands are awesome for keeping your phone from freezing! I usually zip an XL hand warmer in the pocket where I keep my phone, and the extra heat keeps my phone from shutting off due to cold temps. We use Warm Skin protective cream to provide an additional layer on exposed skin, and we put Musher’s Secret (affiliate link) on the dogs’ feet to prevent snowball buildup.
First Aid Kit & Dog Sling
Over the years, we’ve assembled a first aid kit with exactly what we need inside. Amazingly, we’ve only had to open it up once on a hike when we were at Crater Lake National Park and I slipped on a wet rock and lost a toenail. The gauze and bandages (and painkillers) were exactly what I needed to wrap up my toe and hike a mile up the Cleetwood Cove trail back to the car…all 700 feet of elevation!
Here are some of the items we include in our kit:
Bandages, gauze, tape, butterfly strips, Ace wrap
Alcohol pads, Neosporin, Ice pack
Scissors and tweezers
A relatively new addition to our bag is an emergency sling for the dogs. Bert and Ernie each weigh about 90 lbs, and if something were to happen and either of them got hurt, we’d have a tough time carrying them out. We have a Fido Pro Airlift Rescue Sling (XL size) that would allow us to scoop up an injured pup and carry them like a backpack in a pinch. Hopefully we never have to use it, but it’s nice to know it’s there if we need it.
National Parks Pass
We have annual passes for Minnesota and Wisconsin state parks that are attached to our vehicle windshield, but every now and then, we decide we want to hike on National Forest land or visit a National Monument. We have the America the Beautiful parks pass that grants us entry into national parks, forests, grasslands, wildlife refuges, and BLM sites, but what an absolute pain it is to be out somewhere and realize that you’ve left the pass at home! Because the hang tag and card hardly weigh anything, we just carry them with us in our daypack all the time. I’d rather have them and not need them than the alternative.
Having this pass and the access it grants has encouraged us to check out places we might not have normally visited. Two great examples are in Northern Wisconsin:
Meyers Beach Sea Cave Trail - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Morgan Falls & St. Peter’s Dome Trail - Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
The America the Beautiful annual pass is available online or at REI stores for $80. There are several discounted pass options available for military service members, retirees, those with permanent disabilities, and 4th graders, so check the NPS website for more info and to find the right pass for you.