Your Essential Hiking Emergency Kit

Aaron Bertalmio, MD, gives his advice on what you need just in case there’s an emergency along the trail.

Aaron Bertalmio, MD, gives his advice on what you need just in case there’s an emergency along the trail.

There’s a lot to love about hiking in northern Nevada: established, well-maintained trail systems, stunning views of the area’s natural beauty and those 300-or-so days of sunshine a year. But be sure to do a little prep work: Packing outdoor essentials and an emergency kit is a must before you hit the trails.

Aaron Bertalmio, MD, Renown Medical Group, has some advice for hikers new to this experience.

First, why hike in the first place?

Dr. Bertalmio believes there are benefits to hiking beyond the great views of wetlands, mountains or Lake Tahoe. “It can be great exercise, as hiking with a pack uphill can easily burn 500 calories per hour,” Dr. Bertalmio says. “Hiking can also help lower blood pressure.”


There are some basic precautions that hikers should take in order to hit the trails in safety. Dr. Bertalmio recommends these big three items:

Your Essential Hiking ER PackPlenty of Water
Take enough to last the entire day. If you don’t want to carry that much water, plan to filter or purify water from a lake or stream with iodine or chlorine dioxide tablets, charcoal or an ultraviolet light wand during your hike. Tip: It helps to find water that is moving or rushing over rocks.

Dr. Bertalmio stresses having enough water cannot be underestimated. “If you become injured and are forced to wait for help, you can only last about three days without water,” Dr. Bertalmio says.


Protection from the Sun Your Essential Hiking ER Pack
Dr. Bertalmio reminds everyone that the sun is intense in northern Nevada. “The higher altitude means increased risk of sun-induced skin damage,” he explains. “Some trails can reach above 10,000 feet, and at that altitude, UV radiation may be 35 to 45 percent more intense than at sea level.”

To protect yourself, bring a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and protective clothing along with you and remember to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours if in direct sunlight.

Emergency Supplies
While water and sun protection are among the largest essentials to prepare in your hiking emergency kit, some others include:

  • Adequate food for the length of the hike including emergency food packs such as Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MRE) or dehydrated food packages
  • A map or compass as a backup for whatever GPS you may be using
  • Extra clothing for insulation
  • A headlamp or flashlight for illumination
  • Basic first-aid supplies including bandages, tweezers, a sewing kit and fever/pain reliever
  • Waterproof matches or a lighter in case you need to make a fire to stay warm
  • A light, portable tool/repair kit including scissors and a pocket knife
  • Emergency shelter of some kind that can fit in your pack