Essential Gear for Hiking the North Shore Mountains

Essential Gear for Hiking the North Shore Mountains

The North Shore Mountains offer some of the most breathtaking hiking experiences in the Pacific Northwest. With stunning vistas, lush forests, and challenging trails, they are a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. However, the rugged terrain and unpredictable weather can turn a simple hike into a survival situation. We are lucky to have such an amazing team at North Shore Search and Rescue in the case of an emergency.  Don't forget to check out their Season 2 premeire landing May 28th! 


To ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure, it’s crucial to be prepared. Here are the eleven essentials you should always bring when hiking the North Shore Mountains.

1. Light Source

The lack of light is the single most cause of overdue hiker calls for NSR. Even if you plan to complete your hike before dark, always bring a reliable light source, such as a headlamp or flashlight. The dense forest can quickly become disorienting as the light fades, and unexpected delays might keep you out longer than anticipated. Extra batteries are a must to ensure your light lasts as long as needed.  Bring a back up such as Green cyalume stick or small turtle lights as emergency backup.

2. Proper Footwear

The North Shore terrain is spicy.  From wet roots, river crossings to dry dusty peat and boulders what you wear on your feet can be vital to preventing injury.  For grip a shoe with a Vibram sole allows for extra grip in all terrain.  Full ankle boots are recommended for more challenging terrain or if you are carrying a heavy backpack.  And Gortex lined shoes can give you that extra protection through wet conditions. Leave the gym runners and sandals at home.


3. Signalling Device

A whistle, small mirror or reflector snap bands can be lifesavers if you need to signal for help. These devices are lightweight and can carry sound or reflect light over long distances, making them effective tools for drawing attention in an emergency.

4. Navigation Device

Always bring a map and compass, even if you're using a GPS device or smartphone. Batteries can die, and signals can be lost in the dense forests and deep valleys of the North Shore. Knowing how to read a map and use a compass can be crucial if your electronic devices fail.

5. Communication Device

A fully charged cell phone is essential, but don't rely on it solely. Cell service can be spotty in the mountains. A personal locator beacon (PLB) or a satellite messenger can be a great backup, providing a way to call for help if you're outside cell range.

6. Warm Clothes

Weather in the North Shore Mountains can change rapidly. Even on a sunny day, temperatures can drop quickly at higher elevations or as night falls. Pack layers, including a warm jacket, hat, and gloves. Consider moisture-wicking fabrics and a waterproof outer layer to protect against rain.  Wool is amazing as when it gets wet, it still can retain warming properties.

7. First Aid Kit

A well-stocked first aid kit is essential for handling minor injuries and illnesses on the trail. Include bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, tweezers, and any personal medications. Knowing basic first aid techniques can also be incredibly beneficial.

8. Food and Water

Bring more food and water than you think you'll need. High-energy snacks like nuts, energy bars, and dried fruit can keep you fueled during your hike. Carry at least two liters of water per person and consider a water purification method, such as a filter or purification tablets, if you'll be out for an extended period.

9. Shelter

An emergency shelter, such as a space blanket, bivy sack, or lightweight tarp, can provide protection from the elements if you need to spend an unexpected night outdoors. These items are compact and can be a lifesaver in adverse weather conditions.

10. Pocket Knife

A pocket knife or multi-tool can be invaluable for a variety of tasks, from preparing food to making repairs or even creating emergency tools and shelter. Choose a knife with multiple functions to maximize its usefulness without adding too much weight to your pack.

11. Fire Starter

Being able to start a fire can provide warmth, a way to cook food, and a signal for help. Pack waterproof matches, a lighter, and fire-starting material like tinder or a fire starter kit. Practicing your fire-starting skills before heading out can ensure you're prepared when you need it.


Hiking the North Shore Mountains can be an unforgettable experience, but it demands respect and preparation. By carrying these ten essentials, you’re equipping yourself to handle unexpected situations and ensuring a safer, more enjoyable adventure. Remember, the key to a successful hike is not just in reaching your destination but also in returning safely. Happy hiking!
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