One of the things I enjoy most about getting into a hobby is getting prepared for it.

If it’s running, I spend hours trying to find the best shoes and clothes. I listen to podcasts about running and read books about running. It’s often based on material “needs.” I “need” this cool new hat. I “need” the perfect traveling running bag.

I’ve been this way my entire life. Getting prepared for the hobby was more important than taking part in or even enjoying the hobby. But that changed when I began running a mile in each of Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks for my 121 In 21 Challenge. I began packing every weekend to run trails around the state. It no longer became about buying things to buy things, but rather actually being prepared.

Trail running gave way to hiking. And while there’s a million ways to get carried away with hiking supplies – check out ultralight thru hiking videos on YouTube – I began developing a small kit to always keep on me. Not so that I could buy new things. Not so that I could look the part. But so that I could not be a burden on the trail. So that I could self-extricate in an emergency. So that I could come back home safely.

My small hiking pack – which is actually a large fanny pack – continues to evolve as I look to increase distance, discover new trails and learn more. This kit goes with me whenever I go for a hike, whether that be in a new national park or jaunt around a Pennsylvania state park.

Here’s what I have in my hiking kit:

  • Water (around 40 ounces)
  • First aid kit (Includes bandages, ointments, medications and more)
  • First aid emergency guide
  • Fire making kit (Includes lighter, wind/waterproof matches, fat wood, kindling and more)
  • Sawyer MINI Water Filtration System
  • Mylar emergency blanket/shelter
  • Multi-tool
  • Knife
  • 15 feet of paracord
  • 15 feet of Gorilla Tape
  • Headlamp and flashlight with extra batteries
  • Power bank and cord
  • Emergency whistle
  • Compact towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Thick trash bag
  • Snacks

I also always have my fully charged cell phones (personal and work), car keys and hiking staff. What do you have in your essential hiking kit?

Christian Alexandersen

Christian Alexandersen ran one mile in each of Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks in 2021 and has been sharing with us stories and tips from his journey.  To read more blog posts from Christian and other PPFF guest bloggers, visit our News page.

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Here’s what I always keep in my hiking pack. What’s in yours?