GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — As days get shorter, a higher number of Forest Ranger incidents involve hikers staying out on trails later than is safe, stuck in diminishing daylight without proper light sources.

On Thursday, rangers rescued a group of hikers on Crane Mountain, near Johnstown in the Adirondacks, under those circumstances. Last weekend, a group of 12 was rescued after getting lost on Owl’s Head Mountain with minimal clothing and food, at a scene that did not clear until midnight.

With incidents like those in mind, this week the Department of Environmental Conservation sent out a reminder: If you need a checklist, they’ve got one. The DEC’s “10 Hiking Essentials” list is a roster of items that can make a difference on any hike. Even if one is planned as a short excursion, a wrong turn or burst of unexpected weather can change everything.

The DEC’s list actually offers a lot more than 10 items to bring on a hike. The list includes:

  • Navigation items
    • Map, compass, GPS system, and extra batteries
    • A smartphone cannot always be trusted to have the signal or battery to get the job done on its own
  • Insulation and rain gear
    • Waterproof jacket, hat, gloves, thermal undergarments
    • Winter items: Goggles and face mask to reduce skin-on-air contact as much as possible
  • Light
    • Headlamps, flashlights, lanterns, extra batteries
  • First aid supplies
    • Pre-made kits are available in backpack-friendly sizes
    • If making your own kit, the American Red Cross recommends including:
      • Absorbent compress dressings
      • 25 adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
      • Adhesive cloth tape
      • Antibiotic ointment
      • Antiseptic wipes 
      • Aspirin
      • Emergency blanket
      • Breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
      • Instant cold compress
      • Nonlatex gloves
      • Hydrocortisone ointment
      • Gauze
      • Tweezers
      • Thermometer
  • Emergency kit
    • Supplementary and in a similar vein to a first aid kit, an emergency kit should include items like a whistle, signal mirror, duct tape, pocket knife, multi-tool, and bright-colored cloth
  • Fire
    • Matches, lighters, and other fire-starting materials
  • Nutrition
    • Extra food, including high-protein and high-calorie foods in case of a prolonged stay
    • When hiking in winter, break food up into smaller pieces and pack them in the center of your backpack in order to reduce the risk of freezing
  • Water
    • At least two liters of water per person; pack more than you expect to need
    • Water filtration or purification system
    • In winter, insulate packed water to keep it from freezing
  • Sun and insect protection
    • Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, insect repellent, bug net
  • Emergency shelter
    • Tent, space blanket, tarp

Equipment is half the battle – the rest comes down to planning. Hikers should use the DEC’s website and other trail resources to learn about trail conditions. In addition, sunset is getting earlier as fall goes on, meaning hikers should get an accurate sense of when the daylight will end before hitting the trail.