We sat down (virtually) for a Q&A session with Susana Cruz AKA @ChicanainNature. Hiking can be hard and being prepared with a backpack is a known “pro tip” amongst the outdoor community. Recently, Susana learned her lesson that it’s important to pack light!
Photos by Ashlee Freese
When you first started hiking, what were you packing in your bag? I used to have a really full bag. While working at camp I worked with kids, so I needed things that would entertain them. I’d be hiking all day, teaching outdoor education. My backpack probably weighed anywhere from 20-30 pounds. Then I went to Crested Butte, Colorado. My friend warned me to pack light, but I thought to myself “I got this, leg day everyday” you know? But, I followed her advice and took some things out, and I thought I had taken out enough… but I didn’t. We looked in my bag afterwards and I had balloons, two fidget spinners, pens, a journal, makeup, my medication (which I needed), there was plenty of glitter, a full pack of wipes, perfume, a large Hydro Flask, a bottle of Gatorade and some smaller bottles of water. I learned my lesson on that hike.
How did you start to pare back? What do you take with you now? Now I know that if I’m going to be hiking just for a couple hours and not working with kids, I can pack lighter. The basic things I bring on a shorter hike are hand sanitizer, my medication, water (but in a water bladder pack), I’ll bring a small gatorade— the electrolytes are important, wipes (just a few in a small baggie), sunscreen and my machete. For a longer hike (over 4 hours) what I pack is a little different.
Why the machete? I bring it in case you have to cut some things away. Sometimes you may need to cut some rope or other materials, it’s just useful. I also use it for my own safety. My machete is really big and beautiful, I love it, it feels like an extension of me. I’m a woman, and I feel like I always have to be aware of my surroundings. Sometimes I wear it around me, so I at least come off as menacing. I just want to be sure I have it, just in case I need it for my own protection.
Here’s the full breakdown of what Susana brings in her bag:
For a shorter hike:
-Snack (sometimes just energy gummies)
-Bladder of water
For a longer hike:
-Bladder of water
-Lightweight rain jacket
-Tampons (because you never know, plus they have multiples uses)
-Toothbrush and toothpaste
-Fishing line (you can do a lot with this)
Now we know that packing light and only the essentials is the key to a successful hike– take it from Susana Cruz. We hope you remember these tips while gearing up for your next adventure!