The first thing to do before starting out on a long hike is to remember that not all hikes are created equal. Preparing for an extended hike on the Appalachian Trail in summer is much different from hiking across Alaska's Denali National Park in March. Hiking the High Peaks of the Adirondacks in June is much different from hiking the region in December. No matter the location, or the time of year, you should always bring these items on your trip:
Duct tape is also important. Duct tape can mend clothing, repair holes in tents and sleeping bags. Hikers can even use it to bind up a blistered foot [source: Hiking Reports].
Also, make sure a compass and map are easily accessible. It's also important to know how to use them, even if a GPS is available. A map won't break if you drop it, a GPS might. A compass and map, moreover, don't need power to work. What will happen if the battery on the GPS runs out of juice? Although a hiker doesn't have to be an explorer like Roald Amundsen, having good navigation skills ensures a quick way out in case of emergency. It's always good to know where you are at all times [source: Smuts].
Important safety tip: Always let someone know where you're going and what time you expect to be back. If you don't show up at the prescribed time, make sure your friend calls for help. If you lose your way, keep a cool head. Stay in one place and conserve energy. If you can, find a water source. You can survive a long time just on water. And remember those matches that we said were essential? A fire will not only warm you, it can also act as signal for rescuers [source: Smuts].