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I had a lot of fun doing a short urban hike a few weeks ago, and now we're planning our next great hike. This one will be a little longer (a bit over 10 miles) and will be in a forest (Davy Crockett National Forest). Step one in planning is to have an idea what we're doing, where, when, and what kind of conditions we expect. Davy Crockett National Forest is in East Texas and it's typical of low-land southeastern forests (i.e., fairly flat with only moderate elevation changes, lots of pine trees with a smattering of sweetgum, white oak, and a few other hardwoods, unimproved dirt trails that are not particularly rocky.) I'm continuing to stress that we plan for OUR activity, not somebody else's, so we take canonical packing lists with a grain of salt. We look at the items on the list and we THINK about them. Does the weight of each and every item justify carrying them? A forest hike has more variables than an urban hike, so my "essential" list is expanded to 15 items instead of 10. What do you guys think? Bring: Very small, light, comfortable day pack Map Compass Light first aid kit (be prepared for blisters, cuts, scrapes and possible twisted ankles / fall injuries) 2 Liters of water (assuming no potable sources en route) Lifestraw or other compact filter (backup use only...could be a "Leave at Home" item...) 12 ounces of trail mix or other snacks Poncho (bring a good one if over 30% chance of rain, else the el cheap-o emergency poncho is okay) Knife (not the jumbo multi-tool) Lighter and/or matches Wad of toilet paper (not a whole roll...when ya gotta go, ya gotta go!) Small lightweight trowel (for cat holes, cuz when ya gotta go, ya gotta go) Walking stick (unimproved woodland trails have rocks, tree roots, gullies, be prepared!) Tick remover (we're in the woods, ticks abound) Spare clothing if weather/season justify it Leave at Home: Sunblock (we're in the woods, it's shady) Sunglasses (we're in the woods, it's shady) Cash (we're in the woods, deer don't run 7-11s) Flashlight (10 miles should take us 4 hours, we're starting at 8am, it's unlikely we'll be out in the dark, but if you have an overabundance of caution, pack the lightest light you own) Bottom Line... Be realistic. Consider your location, the weather conditions, etc. Pack for your hike, not somebody else's.