Depending on who you ask, answers could vary widely when it comes to what you should include in your winter day pack. Your survival could very much depend on how prepared you were for unpredictable weather shifts or events. No one heads out on a trail with the plan to roll an ankle, rendering them incapacitated. There are also things to consider before you even pack your bag.
Survival gear needs to protect you from a variety of potentially life-threatening scenarios... Those include animal/human attack, weather/warmth, injury, and water/food. In the winter, there are less people out which means more vulnerability to both a poor actor (human) and potential encounters with bear (in areas where they don't hibernate like the Redwoods) and mountain lion/cougars. Also, with less people on trails, there are less people to arrive to your side if you were to injure yourself meaning a potentially much longer wait for help or a rescue team. With these seasonal variables in mind, we've created a basic survival kit for winter day hikes/outings.
If you have winter sno parks with warming shelters near you, you might use the lighter and fire starters often! Sometimes, when you arrive to these warming shelters, there fire is out fire, however, there is plenty of firewood. If only you had a lighter and fire starter! You could just turn out to be the hero of your group and your lunch break.
This kit would not only make hiking safer, but if you kept your daypack in your car, you'd also be that much more prepared for an unexpected winter emergency incident. Cold weather can wreck havoc on your "rig". Make sure to keep extra water, energy bars, a set of chains, shovel, flashlight, jumper cables, and a blanket as part of your emergency preparation kit.
No matter what you choose to do to this winter, preparation is key to manage the unexpected. If you'd like to learn more about what to pack in your winter day pack, check out a video our friends at Hike Oregon made on just that topic below!