How to Pack for a Desert Hike
Explore the desert with a long hike, but first pack everything you need. Grab a daypack and stock it with essentials like water, food, first aid kit, extra clothing, flashlight, knife, and map. Leave some extra water, food, and medical supplies in your car, just in case. Also be sure to protect yourself from the sun with sunblock, sunscreen, a hat, and long layers. Once you have what you need, go check out unique environment that is the desert!
Preparing Your Daypack
Grab a lightweight backpack or fanny pack to store your gear.Function is more important than style in this case. Select a bag that has a few different pockets and is lightweight. Keep your bag as light as possible. You will put all of your supplies in your bag for easy access.
Include a first aid kit just in case.Grab a first aid kit so you have supplies for any injury. Make sure it includes bandages, gauze, antibacterial ointment, cotton swabs, tissues, alcohol wipes, thermometer, and hand sanitizer.
Pack at least one gallon of water per person, per day.You cannot have too much water when desert hiking. Dehydration is a serious possibility, so drink lots and drink often. The absolute minimum you should carry is one gallon per person.
- When you are halfway through your gallon, it is time to turn around.
- Make sure you have extra water in your car to rehydrate after your hike.
Bring an extra jacket if you hike at night.Desert temperatures can drop drastically as soon as the sun goes down, even below 50 degrees. Bring a jacket if you will be hiking past sunset.
- If you plan on being out past twilight, bring a thicker jacket and warmer clothes.
Bring energy boosting, high-protein food.Eat before, during, and after your hike. Your body will burn through resources quickly in the desert, so make sure you keep refueling. Eat about twice as much as you would on a normal day. Eat things like nuts, trail mix, or beef jerky to keep energized.
- It is also helpful to eat a large breakfast before you hike.
Bring things to help you navigate, like a map, compass, and GPS.Maps are a necessary tool to help you orient yourself in the desert. Compasses or GPS devices can help you orient yourself as well.
Include a knife, minitool, and flashlight for extra preparation.You never know when you will need to scrape off a cactus spine, so bring a knife or minitool like a swiss army knife to be prepared. It is helpful to also have a headlamp or flashlight in case you are out after dark
Pack a whistle in case of an emergency.If you are injured or encounter a threatening animal, you want to blow a whistle so other hikers or rangers can help you. Clip this to your daypack for easy access. Blow the whistle loud and clearly if you find yourself needing assistance.
Throw in a trash bag to remove any litter.Be mindful not to toss any litter into the desert on your hike. Bring a plastic shopping bag or a small garbage bag to dispose of any trash.
Put extra supplies in your car for after your hike.You will want extra water, snacks, and maybe an extra pair of clothes. After your hike, it is important to refuel with water and food since your energy will be depleted from the desert conditions. Drink some water before you leave, and change into fresh clothes if you are very sweaty.
- Desert heat is no joke, so be over-prepared rather than under-prepared.
Protecting from the Sun
Pack and apply sunscreen to prevent sunburn or sun poisoning.In the desert, you will be exposed to constant sunlight during the day. Make sure you protect yourself from harmful rays. Get sunblock with at least 75 SPF.
Bring sunglasses to protect your eyes.Because of how bright the sun will be, you want to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Don’t bring an expensive pair, in case they are damaged or lost.
Wear a hat for some shade.In the desert, shade is scarce, so bring your own! Bring a wide hat for extra protection.
Pack long-sleeve, lightweight clothing to prevent sun exposure.You want your clothes to be breathable and light in color to keep you cool while hiking. Long layers can also prevent bugs or pesky plants.
QuestionWhat should I pack when going to the desert?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWater, food, layers of clothing and a first aid kit.Thanks!
QuestionWhat kind of knife is best to have in the desert?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerEither a large knife or a Swiss army knife. Something with more than one use.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I best prepare my feet and what is the best footwear for trekking in HOT, DRY desert sand?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUse a lot of moisturizer. Your feet will be dry in the desert. Wear comfortable sandals. DO NOT BRING TRAINERS - you will only ruin them and get sand in them.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should be in the first aid kit?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSmall, medium, and large sterile gauze dressings; plasters/band-aids (in a variety of different sizes and shapes), at least two sterile eye dressings, triangular bandages, crêpe rolled bandages, safety pins, disposable sterile gloves, and tweezers.Thanks!
- It is helpful to research the wildlife and plants that are native to the area where you are hiking. Especially note any venomous creatures and read up on what to do if bitten.
- Avoid dark items, as they will absorb sunlight.
- Electronics can melt in high temperatures. Avoid bringing items that aren't necessary to prevent any malfunction.
- Extreme health risks can result from hiking in the desert, including dehydration, heat stroke, and hypothermia. Be aware of the weather forecast before you go, and be prepared for all temperatures, including dramatic temperature changes.
Video: Desert Hiking: Clothing Choice
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