Day Backpacking by: Heather Drope

At one of our meetings, we had Reta Cook show and explain the items in her backpack.  Reta spends a lot of time in the woods exploring and photographing wild flora and she knows the value of having the right items packed in case you're inadvertently caught overnight.  For those of you that did not attend the meeting, you missed a very informative talk!

Her talk gave me a lot of ideas to share with you concerning what to pack for safety.  I'm not even going to try and recall each and every item Reta carried as it took her 30 years or more to collect all the necessary paraphernalia.  Mine is a short list to which you can add your own items as you see fit. 

By law (Provincial Wildlife Act), you are required to carry on your person when entering the woods in Nova Scotia, the following four items:

  1. compass
  2. sharp knife
  3. map
  4. matches

What I would add to my pack would be:

  • water
  • twine or dental floss (for making a shelter)
  • flashlight
  • energy food
  • whistle
  • orange garbage bag (for cover or SOS)
  • insect repellent
  • first aid ointment
  • light gloves and extra socks
  • pen or pencil
  • notepad

You can wear useful items as all good Girl Guides know:

  • watch
  • scarf for bandage
  • belt
  • hat
  • jacket

Additionally, I have some safety suggestions:

  1. Always tell someone close to you where you are going.
  2. Always establish a map safety bearing before you enter the woods.  It also doesn't hurt to pencil in a note of the bearing on the map, and;
  3. Tie your compass to yourself so that you don't drop it in times of stress.

We can ask ourselves "do we really need this stuff?"  I would have to stress that we do, especially if we are exploring alone!   It is very easy to get turned around in unfamiliar woods when you are looking at plants and lose track of time and direction.

Have a safe and productive summer.

Nova Scotia Wild Flora Society