What to Bring

[Primrose Boyne River Photo]

The High Park Hiking Club hikes in areas near the city of Toronto. The hikes are suitable for a reasonably fit beginner. The following list is created on the assumption that you are on one of our trips.

If you are hiking on remote trails, and/or if you are hiking on your own, you should be better prepared, and you should know what you are doing.

Hiking Gear

Hiking Boots
They should be comfortable. Good ankle support makes hiking up and down the escarpment much more comfortable. Good treads work well in muddy conditions. Waterproof boots are nice, and they work well as winter boots. When you buy new hiking boots, make a point of wearing them around the neighbourhood for a couple of days. This loosens them up a bit, and prevents blisters when you are out hiking.
Even in hot weather, you should wear heavy sweat socks. A good trick is to wear two pairs. Thin socks inside heavy socks slide a bit, preventing blisters. If the thin socks are polypropylene, they wick sweat away from your feet. There are socks made specifically for hiking that have two layers that prevent blistering. These are highly recommended.
Water and/or other non-alcoholic beverages
Figure on bringing at least a litre of water, and even more on a hot day. In warm weather, consider freezing it. Leave your bottle in the freezer, overnight, with the top removed. Do not completely fill the bottle. This will allow the ice to expand a bit without breaking anything.
There are no restaurants out in the woods.
Appropriate Clothing
In colder weather, you should bring warm, layered clothing, eg. underwear, a turtle-neck or lighter shirt, sweater and/or a light jacket). You will get warmer as you start hiking, so plan on being able to manage your temperature. It can be colder up north than it is here in Toronto. It can be t‑shirt weather here, and jacket and gloves weather up at Collingwood, where we hike sometimes. Keep an extra layer in your backpack. Rain ponchos have been known to become necessary. The fun hikes are often the rainy ones. A hat provides an extra layer in cold weather, and protection from the sun when it is hot out.
Reading Glasses...
...if you need them to read stuff. As a passenger in a carpool, you ought to be able to read the driving instructions to the driver. In an emergency, you may have to read a map, or first aid instructions.
A knapsack or fanny pack...
...to carry your lunch, extra clothing and your water.
...for gas and dinner.

I chatted recently with someone who had problems freezing their drinking water. The concave bottom of their bottle popped when the water froze. Water expands when it freezes. I am used to polypropylene bottles bulging a bit when they come out of the freezer. Stainless steel is about two orders of magnitude stiffer than polypro. The main cylindrical part does not expand significantly. The concave bottom is the only place that will allow the ice to expand.

Eventually, after years of this abuse, your plastic bottle is going to split. I don't know what will happen to your stainless steel bottle.