Chaparral Hiking can be performed without any extra equipment other than a water bottle — if you are foolish. I take more into the field than what I can carry in one hand. Let me start with a list formed out of experience.

  • I wear a hat. Specifically what is called an “Australian Golfer” or a “Bush Hat” — a broad-brimmed affair with mesh around the top so that the wind can blow in.
  • For clothes I wear shorts in the summer and jeans in the winter. I prefer a t-shirt to walking bare chested because it soaks up my sweat and cools me down. Because I’ve been losing weight lately, I employ suspenders.
  • Merrill makes the best hiking shoes in my opinion. I have a pair of Moabs. Some fools wear regular walking shoes or, worse, go barefoot. My boots keep me from twisting my ankles and also provide a layer of protection against unexpected snake bite.
  • Water is essential. I carry a Camelbak Rimrunner which fulfills the dual purpose of providing me with adequate hydration and a pack for my other needs.
  • A space blanket — you never know when you will need it to take shelter from a sudden storm, as shade, or as a signaling device for aircraft trying to find you.
  • A Swiss Army knife. Another of those items that I rarely use, but if I don’t have it, I will miss it.
  • A wind-up flashlight. I recently acquired a model that not only lets me shine light, but also recharge a cell phone.
  • A first aid kit. In case you get tangled up with some poison oak, alcohol wipes can remove much of the oil before you get home.
  • A blood sugar tester. (Yes, I am diabetic.) I keep glucose tablets on hand for low blood sugar emergencies.
  • Salt tablets for the hottest days.
  • Lamb’s Wool. Versatile stuff which you can use to wrap sore toes or cushion the insides of your shoes. Very light.
  • A pen and a Moleskine notebook. Mostly used for writing down notes for my nature journal.
  • A pair of binoculars
  • A wind-breaker
  • A pocket survival kit. It has stuff like matches, fishing hooks, tinder and the like.
  • A GPS. Helpful if you are lost or needing to relay your location to searchers in the event of injury.
  • Sun screen, which I should really use more.
  • A couple of plastic grocery bags
  • My cell phone. Hell, a man used his to post to Facebook that he was in trouble on the slopes of Mount Hood and friends persuaded rescuers to pull him out. And this guy was found when rescuers rang his phone. I, myself, used one to organize my rescue from the north slope of Silverado Canyon. Never leave home without one.
  • A walkie-talkie to keep in touch with my wife when we are out hiking. Keeps us from wasting cell phone minutes trying to find each other.
  • Cameras. I am a Nikonista, so I can usually be found carrying my D60 or my D70. I am also a lover of analog photography: I have several film cameras including a Nikon 8008, a Bronica, and various toy cameras. Where do I get my film developed? The Darkroom in San Clemente.

What you don’t see here: trekking poles. I find them an encumbrance. Lynn, though, finds they help her both on uphills (where she speeds past me) and on downhills where her knees feel the most strain.

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