Author – Hunter Dycus
Slade, Kentucky is the Adventure Capital of this amazing state, and rightfully so! Slade is located in the heart of the famous Red River Gorge Geological Area – a 29,000+ acre plot of mountains, sandstone arches, waterfalls, lakes and anything else you could be looking for in nature. Thousands of people from all over the world come to visit Slade and the surrounding cities. At StayOver, we’ve had guests from Canada, Austria, England and more! With mass amounts of visitors, there are bound to be accidents. Not everyone knows how secluded Red River Gorge is and may not plan accordingly. Never fear, our team at StayOver is here to help you plan some amazing #RRG adventures! Don’t leave your house to visit Red River Gorge without a solid pair of shoes and your backpack loaded with the necessary essentials.
A solid pair of hiking boots is a necessity for everyone visiting the area. The most important thing to look for in a good pair of hiking boots is a snug fit. “I love my terribly-fitting shoes!”, said no one ever. There are multiple types of foot coverings for hiking, hiking shoes, backpacking boots, day hiking boots and even hiking sandals. Not only are there different types of shoes, but they are all made differently as well! You can find boot uppers made of full-grain, split-grain or nubuck leather, insulated or non-insulated, waterproof membranes and even vegan-friendly materials. Think that’s all? You’d be wrong! There are multiple types of midsoles, internal supports and outsoles as well. Picking a solid pair of shoes for your #RRG adventure is vital. Everyone’s shoe needs are different, be sure to pick the right shoe for you!
Similar to shoes, finding the right backpack is not as easy as throwing the trusty old Jansport from 9th grade over your shoulder. Hiking backpacks are vastly different, giving you a ton of options to fit your needs. First, finding the backpack with the right fit is the most important thing to look for. Just like your shoes, you are not going to have a good time with a poor-fitting backpack. Backpacks also come in a variety of sizes. Are you going on a day-hike or backpacking for a few weeks? Answering this question will help you determine if you need a smaller backpack closer to 40 liters or an expedition-style backpack closer to 95 liters. Depending on your lifestyle, body and exploration intentions you may need padded shoulder straps, internal/external framing, hip-straps or waterproof material.
Once you’ve got the right pair of shoes and a solid backpack, you’re ready to fill your backpack with the essentials. Heading out with anything less than the following items is NOT recommended. Red River Gorge is a wild landscape and there are many safety precautions that you need to take here that you may not be used to in your normal day-to-day life. Accidents happen and being prepared for these accidents can separate you from life and death. Don’t get caught unprepared and have to be rescued or carried out on a stretcher!
First and foremost, every adventurer should have a minimum of 1 extra days worth of water/water purification and food/rations. Again, you NEVER know what’s going to happen out in the wild. Being prepared with a minimum of 1 extra day worth of food and water is not just recommended, but a requirement for a safe adventure. On top of extra food and water, you should also have extra clothes. That includes socks, underwear and outerwear. If you’re adventuring in Red River Gorge, we highly recommend wearing pants and long sleeved shirts, which will help protect you from the sun, bugs and numerous flora that can be damaging to your skin.
A solid first-aid kit is a MUST-HAVE! Being prepared for cuts, scrapes, burns, falls and many more things will keep you one-step ahead. A first-aid kit includes, but is not limited to, band-aids, antiseptic wipes/solution, compression wraps, gauzes, disposable gloves, tweezers, adhesive tape, a first-aid manual, antibiotic ointment, scissors, ibuprofen, splint, knife/multi-tool, thermometer and a space blanket. Pro-tip: A space blanket can double as an emergency shelter! Emergency shelters are vital and include tents, ponchos, trash bags, space blankets and more.
Tools for creating a fire are another highly recommended item to bring with you. You never know if you’re going to get stuck in the woods overnight! Setting up your emergency shelter and creating a fire can keep you safe and help you avoid hypothermia. Did you know that hypothermia starts when your internal body temperature reaches 95 degrees? Your body temperature can decrease to this level in wet/windy conditions with outside temperatures as high as 70 degrees! Remember to always keep matches, lighters or flint and strikers on you. We highly recommend windproof and waterproof matches!
The last thing to ensure you have on you will be tools for navigation. Being able to find your way around Red River Gorge, and ultimately back to your car is again VITAL. Local search and rescue teams are thinned out during busier seasons and finding a lost hiker is a massive job. Don’t forget your local map, compass, altimeter, GPS and personal locator beacon. These tools can save your life! More importantly than having these tools is knowing how to use them. Don’t be afraid to take an in-person or online class to ensure you know how to use a compass or PLB!
Remember, these essential items are a minimum requirement for going out and adventuring anywhere, not just Red River Gorge. Even the most experienced individuals can find themselves in an unfamiliar territory or situation. Safety first!
StayOver follows the “Leave No Trace” philosophy and we ask that you do the same. If you explore, please take any trash back with you. If you find any trash while adventuring, it would be appreciated if you could pick that up as well and help us keep this amazing place clean.