Gear to Bring on your Next Adventure

When you’re going on a hike, camping trip, or any other kind of adventure, there are certain items you should bring to make your expereince the best it can be.

I asked three people what they recommend when going on adventures. Ben Parsons, Kiana Streeter, and Taryn Davis all gave their personal opinions of what to bring when you’re going out on a trip.

Places you can get this gear include your local camping supply stores, or if you’re a SLO resident or student of Cal Poly, you can rent equipment from “Frontline,” Cal Poly’s adventure equipment rental center located next to the REC center.

Check out this video for more information about gear as well as how to rent it on the Cal Poly campus!


When you’re headed out on a day hike, it’s important to bring plenty of water to keep you hydrated, especially depending on what kind of weather it is. Check the weather forcasts in advance so that you don’t get stuck in a rainstorm, or at the top of a peak in 41 mile per hour winds (unless you like that kind of thing, sometime’s it’s fun…).


Bring a day pack filled with extra sunblock, some minor first aid supplies, and a sweatshirt in case there is a drastic  change in temperature as you ascend, compared to at the bottom of the trail. It’s always a good idea to bring a healthy snack as mentioned in my previous post, and to wear comfortable shoes so that you don’t get any blisters.

“You need hiking boots for sure, just because they have a very stiff rubber and a stiff construction to them so your ankles don’t get banged up and you don’t get as many blisters.” Said Ben Parsons, an employee of Cal Poly’s outdoor climbing wall, and a hiking and climbing enthusiast. If you don’t have hiking boots, don’t stress, because a good pair of sneakers will also suffice on a hike that isn’t TOO strenuous.

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Essentials of water, a small pack, and sunblock


Depending on how long your trip is and where your destination is located, you’re going to need to pack different items for a camping trip. Essentials include a sleeping bag, a tent, firewood to cook, food, something to cook the food in as well as something to eat the food with, water, sunblock,and again, check the weather to see what else will be necessary wherever you’re going. “We have pretty much everything you need for camping,” says Frontline employee Kiana Streeter. “From stoves to…tents and sleeping bags from whatever you really need you can rent out for a… discounted price for students, too.”

More blankets, a heavy coat, or extra firewood are helpful in cold temperatures. Always make sure it is legal to have a fire going in your campsite beforehand, as there are many places during dry season which prohibit making a fire for safety reasons. You can check the California Department of Parks and recreation’s website, or call your campsite’s ranger station beforehand to double check as well as so check if you will need a fire permit. You can also check out REI’s basic Camping checklist for more camping suggestions.



There are different kinds of backpacking, like lightweight backpacking, and regular backpacking, but for the most part you are going to want to bring the same supplies with you, they’re just going to be packed differently. You’re going to need a backpack which can hold your sleeping bag, a sleeping mat which will insulate you from having the cold of the ground suck up your body heat when you’re sleeping as well as to provide some cushion. It is especially important to bring high calorie and nutritious food when you’re backpacking, because you need the energy. According to, the average person will burn from 4,000-5,000 calories or more each day backpacking, so this is not a situation you’re gonna want to go with the low calorie food option! ”

Sleeping Pads available for rent at Frontline.

You’ll need food, a headlamp if you’re going to be making night treks, first aid supplies, and some kind of a navigation tool like a compass and map. Check out REI’s Backpacking Checklist for even more information on what to bring on a backpacking trip.

Gear to Bring on your Next Adventure

Cal Poly’s Adventure Program Poly Escapes Offers Affordable Local Excursions

 “I felt like everyone was really excited to have me on board and have me go on my first trip.” 


Adventure is out there!

There are many places to venture in San Luis Obispo which yield challenging treks and spectacular views, and Poly Escapes is an organization on campus which puts together group excursions for a low fee which not only students, but community members can participate in.

Where It All Began

When I first toured Cal Poly back in April of 2014, I remember being fascinated by the images on the windows of the Poly Escapes room attached to the Rec. Center. There were images of morning yoga hikes, and camping under the stars, and I knew that I wanted to be a participant on these trips as soon as I could. The first week of school in September, I signed up for two weekend trips, and applied to be a “co-leader” or leader in training. I had zero backpacking experience and minimal camping experience, but I love the outdoors and figured I would go for it.

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Sunrise Yoga overlooking Madonna and Bishops in November of 2014

Beginners welcome! 

At first, it was nerve-wracking. It was my first month at college, my first month away from home, and I was flooded with anxious emotion about how I had never backpacked before,  but would soon embark on a weekend long trip. I was moderately unprepared in terms of gear, with people I had never met before in my life. This fear soon disappeared when I realized that the other participants on this trip were similar in personality to me, and shared my love of adventure.

If you have any interest in Poly Escapes, do not feel intimidated by a lack of experience, because there is no experience required to sign up for a trip. Third year Cal Poly student Dina Saba also originally had no prior wilderness knowledge but signed up for a trip, and had a completely positive experience. “I felt like everyone was really excited to have me on board and have me go on my first trip.” Dina said. Dina gives more insight into her Poly Escapes expereince, as well as students Eric Hsieh and Adam Zaccone in my podcast below, highlighting their favorite trips and memories on their adventures with the program.

Courtesy of Eric Hsieh: Me on the trail Maintenance in the Ventana Wilderness October 2014, my first trip with Poly Escapes.

Take the LEap

Poly Escapes is everything I hoped it would be when I signed up. I have met many other students who share my sense of adventure and have been able to go on trips which have broadened my horizons and given me a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment that can only be achieved from hours of trekking, to finally make it to the top of that rock which overlooks a valley on top of the world.

There’s no specific rock in particular, they’re everywhere. This is why it is important to take advantage of the opportunity to go on these, to find yourself and broaden your own horizens adventures It’s easy to sign up for a Poly Escapes trip through the ASI Website and find your overlook.

“It’s not very often you get the chance to be with so many people who love to be in the outdoors and go on adventures as much as this group does.” said Adam Zaccone

My rocky overlook in Idyllwild on the Cosmic Camping trip in November 2014. That little dot up there is me.

education and experience

There are a wide variety of trips to try with Poly Escapes. On the trail maintenance trip for the Ventana Wilderness Alliance,, you can give back to the community through volunteer work, as you hack down bushes and trees to upkeep the trails in the Los Padres National Forest, and appreciate the hard work which goes into keeping up trails.

Another example of a trip I enjoyed was Cosmic Camping, an educational experience under the stars learning from a real Cal Poly professor about the universe and its astronomical make up, by viewing the night sky through high-powered telescopes.

Find your Passion!

There are also stand up paddle boarding trips, sunrise yoga hikes, caving, climbing, and many other ways to get involved for a price within the budget of a “broke college student.”


Poly Escapes

Poly Escapes is an ASI program through Cal Poly which does not operate to make a profit. The trip leaders do their job for the love of the adventure and are often compensated pay depending on how many people sign up, and whether or not they can make a successful food and transportation budget with the money gained on a particular trip without losing money. The participants come back from the trips more educated in the ways of the wild and bonds formed with fellow adventure seekers. 

“It’s not very often you get the chance to be with so many people who love to be in the outdoors and go on adventures as much as this group does.” Said Co-leader Adam Zaccone.

This is why the best time to take advantage of these opportunities is now

Cal Poly’s Adventure Program Poly Escapes Offers Affordable Local Excursions

Sunrise Yoga on Cerro San Luis

My not-so-balanced Tree pose with Bishop’s peak in the background


On the morning of Saturday, January 30th, I went on a sunrise yoga hike on the 1,292 foot San Luis Mountain, or what is more frequently referred to as Madonna. Cerro San Luis is one of the “Nine Sisters,” a chain of volcanic peaks which stretch East from Morro Bay.

Goin UP on a Saturday

Actually, I didn’t even go to bed before the hike, since we left at 5:30a.m., but I don’t recommend that… Staying up for 26 hours straight isn’t as great as you would think.

We met at the trailhead at 5:30a.m., and then hiked through the fog, and it was COLD. The hike up took about 45 minutes and by the time we reached the top, the sun was just risen above the clouds.

Bishop’s Peak surrounded by morning fog

We did some yoga at the top led by trip leaders and co leaders, and then enjoyed some fresh fruit, granola, and yogurt parfaits and hot chocolate for breakfast. Then we hiked down the mountain and got back to campus around 10:30a.m. As the rest of the campus was waking up, I went to bed!!

It was a beautiful hike. Cerro San Luis has many different trails going different directions, so I know I’m going to do another hike there sometime in the future. Sunrise hikes are very peaceful, and it’s enjoyable to see the world (including the Cal Poly Campus!) waking up around you as you practice yoga on top of a mountain.

Sunrise Yoga on Cerro San Luis

Cal “P”oly

Stephanie Chin and me sitting on the bottom of Cal Poly’s iconic P.

Today one of my Poly Escapes Co Leaders and I went on a sunset hike to the “P” behind the Cal Poly red brick dorms! It was cool crisp weather, so we used the be bold, start cold” technique. This technique is when you wear less layers than you think you will need to start off, because as you hike, your body temperature rises and you work up a sweat. If you are extremely sweaty when you reach the top and stop hiking, you will feel colder.

To get to the trailhead, climb up to the highest level parking lot behind the dorms and follow the dirt path at the top to the cattle gate, where the trail begins. The hike is a shorter trip, only about 25 minutes up the longer and less steep way, and about 20 to 25 minutes back down. For those who live on campus no transportation is required except for your own two feet.

The “P” hike is a Poly student favorite, which I have done on many occasions during all times of day and night, and will never get tired of!

Click here  and scroll down for more information on the history and tradition of the “P” at Cal Poly.

Cal “P”oly

Gaviota Peak Hike in Santa Barbara County with Poly Escapes

“Experiences like these have helped me develop more confidence and openness…It keeps you active, body and mind, and encourages you to step out of your comfort zone.” -Shannon Kitchell

Beginning the descent

On Saturday 1/17/15 I went on a hike with Cal Poly’s “Poly Escapes” program to Gaviota Peak in Santa Barbara county. We left campus around 10am and it took about an hour to get from Cal Poly’s campus to the trailhead in Goleta. In the car ride over, all of the trip members got to know each other and listened to podcasts about adventure stories to get ready for the trail ahead. The hike was a 6.5 mile loop with an elevation gain of 2,150 feet, and was a tiring five hour workout with beautiful views of the ocean and the green rolling hills at the top, and a great expereince of meeting other hiking enthusiasts through the Poly Escapes program.

Before ascending, we checked out the Gaviota hot springs at the base of the trail. The water was warm to the touch, and the air smelled like sulfur. The ascent to the top was steep in some parts, and the hike had little shade. The weather was nice, the temperature was in the mid 70’s and the sun was out.

We stopped for lunch just before reaching the peak and took in the view of the ocean. When we got to the peak, there were 360 degree views of the surrounding ocean and rolling hills, green from the recent rain.

The green rolling hills seen from the peak.

After spending about half an hour at the top, we began the hike down. Since the trail was a loop, we went down a different way than we came up. The descent was very steep at first, but flattened out to reveal another view of the ocean and the rolling green hills.

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Overall, the hike was a success. It took about 5 hours, but we were taking a slower pace and had stopped at the top to eat. I would definitely do this hike again, and reccommend it to others, but for now I’m going to stick to discovering new trails with different views and new exciting groups of people to hike with.

To go on trips like this at Cal Poly, use the Poly Escapes program, which offers many opportunities for adventure at a low cost. Trip member and first year Shannon Kitchell described the hike to Gaviota Peak and her involvement with the Poly Escapes program as extremely positive. “Going on adventures with new people to places I have never been has been truly rewarding. Experiences like these have helped me develop more confidence and openness. The Poly Escapes Program is a perfect way to branch out and meet new people. It keeps you active, body and mind, and encourages you to step out of your comfort zone.” Said freshman Shannon Kitchell.

To learn more information about Poly Escapes, check out my next blog which is about the Poly Escapes program, or check out the Poly Escapes website.You can also stop by into the Cal Poly rec center, and talk to trip leader or co leader, or talk to program coordinator Derek Wright. Derek says he believes that Poly Escapes is even a good avenue for students who “don’t necessarily have a lot of experience in hiking, and a good opportunity to get outdoors,” because it’s never too late to go on a Cal Poly adventure.

Because it is never late to go on a Cal Poly adventure.

Gaviota Peak Hike in Santa Barbara County with Poly Escapes