Hiking in the desert isn't really all the different from hiking anywhere else, but you need to bring a different set of equipment.
  • Water. I can't emphasize that enough- bring lots and lots of water. You're going to need a gallon every day. This limits how long you can stay out without resupply, unfortunately, as water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon. You can get by on less in the short-term, but I don't recommend it.
  • Food. You won't need as much of it, but you don't want to bring anything salty or exceedingly dry.
  • Clothing. You want light clothing and a hat. You either need to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants or sunblock, because sunburn is BAD, mmmkay? The hat needs to provide you with a reasonable amount of shade- no fez! You want clothing that has a loose weave, and light-colored clothing is better than dark. White is best, but a lot of people don't like wearing white shorts. Bring a jacket too- the desert cools down quickly at night.
  • Map and compass. This is much more important in the desert than anywhere else. Most places in the United States, you can't walk twenty feet without tripping over an interstate, but in the desert it's much easier to get lost and much harder to find your way back to civilization.
  • Boots and sandals. These are the ideal footwear- you want to wear boots while hiking, because you need support for your ankles, but you don't want to have to wear confining boots around camp.
  • Flashlight. Not as important as elsewhere, but still a crucial item. On the full moon, it's not much of an issue, but on a moonless night, you'll thank me.
There's not much else you really need to know. Despite people's worries about rattlesnakes, they'll ignore you if you ignore them, and they're pretty rare to begin with. Ditto scorpions. In fact, in terms of dangerous animals, you're safer in the desert than anyplace else.

Really, the desert ain't bad as long as you don't get lost and carry enough water. If you do get lost, find shelter and do your best to let people know where you are. YOU ARE LEAST LIKELY TO DIE BY JUST SITTING STILL AND WAITING. Moving around is a bad idea if you're lost.

The most likely health problem you'll have while hiking in the desert is heat exhaustion. To combat this, drink plenty of water (you're drinking enough if your urine is still clear. Yellow is bad.), stay in the shade, and do most of the common sense stuff.

The most important thing is to make sure someone who cares about you knows where you are.

Really, most of this stuff is common sense.

In addition to those mentioned above, there are few other items I would also suggest bringing along. They are basic requirements in the United States Special Forces Training Phases I, II, & IV.

A protractor. It is extremly difficult to terrain associate on a map if you are in an area without many prominent landmarks. Using the compass and the protractor you would be able to re-section off of any landmarks on the map (given there are at least two) and determine your location.

If you do not know how to use a compass, or protractor, and have no idea how to read a map, get a GPS system with spare batteries if you are going to be screwing around in places you could get lost. Plot your starting point as somewhere with water and medical facilities, and other points with water or shelter as you may find them in your trek. It only takes a moment to annotate a rally point, and it is better to have it and not need it...

Bug Juice, or Insect Repellent if you prefer the politically correct nomenclature. There is nothing so pesteringly itchy, except for a dose of the clap, than a bug bite behind your elbow or on your earlobe.

And I tend to disagree with not bringing salty food. Salt contains electrolytes and helps you retain water. It is also inexpensive. There are packets you may be able to purchase at Army Surplus stores called ORS. Oral Rehydration Salts. You mix these into a one quart canteen and sip it slowly on your trek and you most likely won't go down as a heat casualty. It does taste like diaper squeezings though.

I myself try to consume a mouthful of water every seven to ten minutes. This keeps you well hydrated and stops you from urinating too much, which dehydrates you quickly. If you consume a whole canteen every time you stop to drink, you are just pissing your water supply away.

Hydrate yourself thoroughly the night before you leave for your hike. Two or three quarts of water prior to strenuous activity will not hurt you at all.

In further addition, the top most article seems to be lacking four vital pieces of equipment.

Extra Pairs of Socks-Change your socks to keep your feet dry and to prevent blisters.


Foot Powder and Baby Wipes- Highly recommended to keep your feet clean and dry. These are the base elements of any good foot-care kit. Moleskin is also a plus.

Extra Shirts- Prickly heat is a real dirty bitch and is even more pesteringly itchy than a good old dose of the clap. Keep your skin clean and change your shirt when your stop. A sweat-soaked shirt keeps you cool while you are moving but when you stop and it starts to dry, change it.

Salt Pills or ORS- Salt your food when you are in camp. You need to retain water while you are out there and you don't need to drink so much water that your urine is clear. If you drink too much water you just flush the electrolytes out of your body and get cramps.

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