Whether you simply planning a day-trip into town or to the beach, or whether you are planning an all-day excursion hiking one of the national parks, there are some essentials that you should always have in your day-pack. These are essentials that could make your day easier, or could even save your day.
First thing to consider, though, is your choice of a day-pack. If you choose one that is too big, you will end up having to carry that heavy bag around all day. If you choose one that is too small, then you may not be able to fit everything you need into it. Some of the things to consider when choosing what day-pack will be best include:
- size, small to medium size is best
- comfortable to wear for long periods of time
- ultra-lightweight so that weight doesn’t fill like a ton by the end of the day
- vented back-panels to keep from sweating as it can be very hot hiking in Costa Rica.
Now for the essentials you should always have in your day-pack.
Mini First Aid Kit – of course no one plans to get hurt, but even a simple cut or blister can fester or easily get infected in the humid conditions usually found in Costa Rica. Your Kit should include a good selection of bandages, preferably the water-proof kind, allergy medicine if you need it, motion sickness pills, wet wipes to clean up any blood, and some type of pain relief to help after a long day of trekking.
Sunscreen – Costa Rica is located 9 degrees from the equator, which means that the sun is always hot and very easy to get a sunburn here. Even for those who think they are used to the sun back home, those 9 degrees make a big difference here. But it’s best to bring your own favorite brand from home as sunscreen is very expensive if bought in the country.
Insect Repellant – whenever you are hiking in the jungle, around water, or near estuaries, you can pretty much expect that mosquitos and no-see’ums will find you. And they always seem to know ‘fresh meat’ when it shows up, and so are very partial to visitors. If you are a particular favorite for this biting critters, then be sure to bring along the strongest brand that works for you. Even if you don’t usually get bitten, still good to stay protected.
Small Change or Small Bills – of course you aren’t going to need to bring your wallet when going out for a day of hiking. But some small change or small bills are still important. You may want to tip the fellow who watched your car in the parking area, or you might really need a nice cold coconut water (agua de pipa) at the end of that long hot hike.
Camera Supplies – if you are going on a long hike, it is a good idea to bring along an extra memory chip and camera battery. How tragic to miss that amazing shot because your battery just went dead, or not enough memory space. It is also useful to bring along a lens cleaner and some microfiber cloths to keep your lenses clean if they get dirty or speckled from rain. One of those handy little tripods are great when you want to take photos with you in it – may not find someone else along the trail to take the photo for you.
Flashlight or Headlamp – it is surprising how quickly it gets dark in the tropics. When the sun goes down, it goes down. It doesn’t take much time to do it either. So just in case your hike ended up longer than you expected, having a flashlight is sometimes vital to find your way back to your car.
Light-weight Poncho – if you are visiting during rainy season, Mar-Dec, then you can pretty much count on it raining at some point in the day. And sometimes for a long time. And it can even surprise you with a quick shower in the dry season, Dec-Mar, so best to always be prepared. Fortunately the rain is never cold here, and in the end, no one has ever melted from being caught in the rain. Just more comfortable not getting soaked, and still having to hike back to the car.
Rain Covers – whether that is a rain cover to put over the entire day-pack if you get caught in a sudden shower, or a waterproof case for your phone, or simply including plastic bags or zip lock bags. Being in the tropics, you need to always be prepared for showers – no matter what the season. A small dry bag is always a good idea if you are going on a rafting trip, or rappelling down waterfalls. They also come in handy to store your wet clothes so they don’t get everything else in the day-pack wet.
Laminated Nature Guides – rather than bringing along a full book on the wildlife here, it is easier to simply buy some of those laminated sheets highlighting the local creatures. You can find them for butterflies, birds, mammals, and even snakes. There is even one that helps you identify tracks to know what animal recently passed by.
Photocopy of Your Passport – while you don’t need to bring your passport on a day-hike, it is a good idea to bring along a photocopy. Sometimes it is needed as ID when registering to enter one of the national parks. And in case anything serious does happen, it is important to know who to reach in case of an emergency.
Of course you will want to add things like water, snacks, your bathing suit, camera, etc. into your day-pack, but this list should make sure that you have a fabulous day. Whether it is a simple meander on the beach, or a hard-core trek up to a stunning waterfall. With this list, you are all set to go and have a great adventure!
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