A short half-mile hike might not require as many emergency items. But once your hikes hit one mile or more, you should pack some, if not all, of these emergency kit items in your backpack.
A Multi-Use ToolDay and Multi-Day Hikes 1 of 11
Need to screw something together at your trailside campsite? A multi-use tool will do the trick. Always have one of these on you, even if it's basic. Want to go all out? Buy the Wave, made by Leatherman, which has 17 tools and a 25-year warranty.
Allergy MedicationsDay and Multi-Day Hikes 2 of 11
This is one of the most important items for your hiking emergency kit. If you're allergic to anything, you should have your allergy medication with you. It's especially important if you're allergic to something you might find on the trail like bees, poison ivy and dogs. Don't get stuck at the top of a mountain or in the middle of your trek with a dangerous allergic reaction.
Spare RopeMulti-Day Hikes 3 of 11
You never know what you might need a rope for on your multi-day hike—hang clothes, pull a heavy log out of your way, or rig a makeshift shelter. Either way, your hiking emergency kit should always have one. You can purchase expensive climbing ropes, but that may be too heavy to carry in your backpack. Purchase a reel of twisted nylon rope instead.
Waterproof MatchesMulti-Day Hikes 4 of 11
If you're caught in a rainstorm or have to cross a river, you can consider your matches useless. Without matches, fire is harder to come by and you may need to make some changes to your dinner plan. Always pack a set of waterproof matches so at the end of the day you can be sure you have something to start a fire.
Duct TapeDay and Multi-Day Hikes 5 of 11
If you can't duct it ? well, if you don't have any duct tape you can't even try. Whether you're on a short or long hike, duct tape can always be of use. Patch a ripped jacket, hold your broken trekking pole together or make a rope if you forgot some.
Portable First-Aid KitDay and Multi-Day Hikes 6 of 11
You never know when your little one will get a cut or if a bee will swoop in and sting you. A small, portable first-aid kit adds minimal weight to your pack and you'll be glad it's there in a time of need. Try the Ultralight/Watertight Medical Kit. It has nearly everything you need in a compact package and fits easily with the other items in your emergency kit.
Water Treatment TabletsDay and Multi-Day Hikes 7 of 11
Even on a short hike, you could potentially run out of water. And, in the dead of summer or on a desert trail, these could mean the difference between dehydration and finishing the trek. With water treatment tablets you can hydrate as long as there's water somewhere along the trail.
Personal PapersMulti-Day Hikes 8 of 11
On a long hike, keep personal papers in your bag, in a watertight folder or bag. This includes a copy of your birth certificate, any permits you might need and personal identification. If anything happens, or a ranger asks for your information, you'll have everything you need.
WhistleDay or Multi-Day Hikes 9 of 11
This is especially valuable if you're hiking alone, but a whistle is so small and easy to pack there's no reason not to bring one every time you hit the trail.. If you run into a difficult circumstance with other hikers or an animal, your whistle will alert others within range that there's trouble nearby.
Light Dry GoodsMulti-Day Hikes 10 of 11
Every hiking emergency kit, no matter what else you include, should have extra dry goods. You don't want to risk running out of non-perishable foods on a multi-day trek. Always pack an extra can of beans or meat, some dry cereal, trail mix or grains. No matter what you pack, choose something that's filling and doesn't need to be cooked, so you can still eat if your other food goes bad, it gets lost or ruined, or you don't have fire.