1. Let others know where you are going and when you should be back.
Whenever I go on a hike or backpacking trip I let someone know exactly where I will be getting on the trail, my itinerary, and when the latest I will call them by. This way if I don’t call they can call the authorities and let them know I’m missing. While I’ve never missed a call in time my wife has almost started a full search and rescue because she was picking me up at my exit and got afraid for my safety even though I had given her a later time to wait before calling search and rescue. Thankfully, I walked out from the trail before the Park Ranger initiated the search. I know have her pick me up at a later time and wait on her to arrive.
2. Purchase a GPS tracker. When my wife had contacted the ranger she was able to give him my exact coordinates and a satellite view of exactly where I was. The GPS tracker I use sends a signal out every 15 minutes with my GPS coordinates. My poor wife thought I was walking in circles, however, I was actually going down switchbacks that went from one side of the mountain to the other.
3. Dress for the weather conditions you will encounter and be prepared for overnight weather conditions. If you are going on a day hike you should be thinking about what will I need to have on should I get stuck out all night. Temperatures can be in the ’80s in the day and drop into the ’40s at night. It also might rain. Carry extra clothing for overnight conditions. Even if rain isn’t expected, carry a poncho just in case.
4. Carry a clean large bandana. A bandana has many uses however, for first aid it can be used as a tourniquet if necessary. See our YouTube video. It can also be used to apply direct pressure to a bleeding wound, to tie a splint to yourself. You can use the bandana to pick up rocks you heat in a fire to keep you warm at night, use it to absorb water in the morning dew to drink. There are over a hundred uses.
5. Carry a flashlight. A flashlight can help direct rescue to you at night.
6. Carry a whistle. The sound of a whistle carries much further than your voice. Your voice will also give out while you can still whistle. The signal for SOS is three short bursts on the whistle, wait for a little then repeat. This can help direct rescue to you and along with the flashlight is very effective. A friend of mine was saved when he was in the African Bush and needed immediate help.
7. Carry a Ferro rod and striker and learn how to start a fire with it. The ability to create a fire in the wilderness is important to you physically, keeping you warm and sterilizing water. However, it is also important to you metally. Much of surviving till rescue get to you is a mental aspect. It can be a friend that keeps you going till Rescue arrives.
8. Two emergency mylar blankets. These can be used to keep you warm and to make a temporary shelter.
9. A single-walled metal container. (ex. 20 oz metal cup) You can use this container to collect and boil water.
10. 25″ of paracord. Makes putting up a shelter much easier, I highly recommend that you learn to tie a ridgeline between two trees. You can then hang a mylar blanket over this and tie the corners down to provide shelter overnight.
Packing these in an emergency kit inside your day pack could be a lifesaver. While this list is not exhaustive to me it represents a minimum I would want in my day pack.