The headlines are freaking me out, guys. No, it’s not the politics.
It’s a scary uptick in the number of hikers, river floaters, and other recreation lovers forced to summon Deschutes County Search & Rescue when a day of outdoor play goes awry in Bend.
Our VP of Sales & Marketing suggested we share the “Ten Essentials” for camping and hiking in the wilderness, which is a darn fine idea. In fact, you should have it tattooed on your forearm.
But since not everyone visiting Bend has outdoor adventure on the agenda, I assembled my own “Ten Essentials” for the laidback traveler. The un-adventurer, if you will.
Behold, we give you Ten Essentials for an active (and a not-so-active) Bend vacation.
Ten Essentials, Nate Wyeth style
I live for exploring Bend’s outdoor landscapes, so I know the weather can change in mere seconds. That’s why it’s crucial to have the following ten items in your pack anytime you’re heading out camping, hiking, or exploring.
- A map and compass. Don’t count on Siri to get you where you’re going in the great outdoors. Coverage can be spotty in the wilderness, and you’re better off with one of the sturdy hard-copy maps you’ll find in the Bend Visitor Center or the Deschutes National Forest Welcome Station.
- Sun protection. The sun can be fierce in the high desert, so remember your shades and sunblock even if it’s cloudy.
- Extra clothing. Temps can fluctuate wildly in Central Oregon, so don’t forget layers. Gloves, hats, jackets, sweatshirts—even if you think you don’t need them, you want to be prepared.
- Illumination. Again, don’t rely on your cell phone. Pack a headlamp in case of an unplanned sleepover or a hike that goes later than expected.
- First aid supplies. You can find awesome little kits at outdoor equipment retailers like REI.
- Fire. A lighter or waterproof matches are essential when venturing into the outdoors. Just make sure you check first to be sure fires aren’t restricted in the area you’re hiking or camping.
- Tools. No, you don’t need a chainsaw on your hiking adventure. But you do need a good multipurpose tool like a Leatherman or pocketknife.
- Extra food. Snacks, particularly high-protein ones, are essential. Think about how hungry you might get if your four-hour hike turned into a twenty-four-hour hike and pack accordingly.
- Extra water. This is a biggie, especially here in the high desert. Plan on drinking at least ½ cup to a cup of water every 30-40 minutes. A good water filtration system can work if you’re hiking along creeks or lakes, but don’t count on finding water everywhere. Always pack more H2O than you think you’ll need.
- Emergency shelter. Day-trippers getting caught unexpectedly overnight is frighteningly common, and smart adventurers always pack an ultralight tarp or emergency space blanket. Even a large plastic bag will do in a pinch (plus you can use it to collect trash and feel good about leaving your favorite adventure spot nicer than you found it).
Ten Essentials, Tawna Fenske style
I’m not lazy. Okay, I’m not always lazy. I do love hiking and snowshoeing and standup paddleboarding, and you’ll find me enjoying those things pretty often in Bend.
But there are times I just want to go full-on vacation mode when reveling in my hometown. For those who want to experience Bend in a more laidback fashion, here are my ten essentials:
- A good book. First things first. If you’re lounging lakeside or by your hotel pool, you need good reading material. Hit a quirky local bookstore like Dudley’s Bookshop Café (where they also make a mean cup of coffee).
- Super-cute sandals or slip-ons. If you’re a dude, omit “super-cute.” But you do need good slip-ons, because tying shoes is sooooo tedious. Resist flip-flop temptation, since those slip off when floating the river. Tevas, Chacos, or Keens are perfect for summer. In wintertime, Downtown Bend retailers like North Soles and CC McKenzie have a great array of clogs and loafers.
- Sunscreen. Here’s one of several items you’ll find on both lists. To make things easier, opt for a locally-made spray like T’s Tonics SPF 30 Sunscreen so you don’t have to rub in a pesky cream. You can also go the pampering route with luxurious suncare products from local fave Angelina’s.
- Tickets. Even if you plan to spend 90% of your Bend vacation lazing in a float tube on the river, save one evening for dinner and a show. Maybe it’s a concert at the Tower Theatre or an indy movie during BendFilm, but you’re gonna want to sample Bend’s lively arts and culture scene.
- Postcard stamps. You want to gloat to all your friends about how awesome your vacation is, right? Hit the Bend Visitor Center for a great selection of postcards. And if you forget the stamps, we’re just 100 feet from the closest post office.
- Waterproof case for your iPod or phone. Whether you’re on the river or near a pool, there’s a good chance you’ll interact with a body of water in Bend. I’ve lost enough phones to know a LifeProof case or OtterBox is a smart idea.
- Gourmet snacks. When you’re treating yourself, no ordinary Doritos will do. Hit Newport Market for the best selection of gourmet goodies and locally-made specialty items, or hit Devore’s across the street for killer wraps and salads.
- Beverages in good containers. Water is essential whether you’re trudging up a mountain or lounging by a lake, but don’t forget to sample Bend’s craft beer scene, too. Fill a couple Hydro Flasks with ice and water, then stock a DrinkTank Growler with Keg Cap Accessory Kit with your favorite brew from the Bend Ale Trail. Just make sure you pack out all cups and trash or I will hunt you down and pee on your lawn.
- Cash. Whether you’re tipping the bartender or just trying to keep track of your vacation budget, an ample stash of cash is a good idea for a lazy vacation. Bonus: When small local retailers aren’t hit with credit card fees, it helps keep prices low for all of us.
- Cozy loungewear. Yala Bamboo Dreams clothing made from breathable, anti-microbial, temperature-regulating bamboo is the most comfortable stuff imaginable. I have nighties, a robe, and even a skirt purchased from Oregon Body and Bath in Downtown Bend. Bonus: they have a great stock of bath products so you can really pamper yourself.