8 Must-Have Items for Your Next Hiking Trip

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Hiking is a great way to explore the great outdoors and commune with nature. However, it is not a physical activity that you can do willy-nilly.

For one, you need to put your safety into consideration. And one way to ensure that is to have all the right hiking gear.

Whether you are a beginner or a veteran hiker, here are eight pieces of gear that should be on your checklist:

1. Clothing and Footwear

No one in their right mind would go out naked. Nonetheless, you must wear the right hiking clothes.

For one, it protects you from the sun’s UV rays. It also serves as protection from poisonous plants insect bites.

Another thing you should consider is the weather. Ideally, you’ll check the weather forecast a few days before your planned hike. That way, you will know what kind of clothing you should bring.

As for your footwear, this will depend on the trail’s terrain. Hiking shoes and trail runners are ideal for gentle hikes on smooth trails. However, you might want to wear boots and bring your trekking poles if you are traversing rocky and rugged trails.

PRO TIP: Pack an extra set of dry clothes in case of unpredicted weather or unplanned overnight stay in the camp.

2. Food and Water

Regardless of the terrain, hiking can get you hungry and perched. Hence, you must have food and water with you.

Ideally, you should bring snack bars, jerky, and nuts as these are delicate food items that you can munch on while you are on the trail. As for your water, the recommendation is two liters per person per day.

However, you can adjust it depending on the weather conditions, body type, and sweat rate.

3. Navigational Device

Like your map and compass, a navigational device is a hiking essential you should absolutely include in your checklist.

Your map and compass can do more than just bring you from point A to point B and back. It also gives you a bird’s eye view of what the terrain looks like.

The compass can give you the right direction, while your map can inform you whether you are crossing the river.

But can you use the navigation apps on your phone instead? The truth is, these apps can be unreliable since they rely on your mobile data for location tracking.

When you are on the trail, you are likely unable to catch a phone signal.

4. Emergency and First Aid Kit

As mentioned earlier, hiking is not something you do willy-nilly. That’s because you need to prioritize your safety. As such, make sure that you have an emergency kit with you.

What should be in your kit? According to Red Cross, your first aid kit should include the following:

  • Compress dressing
  • Adhesive bandages and cloth tapes
  • Ointment
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Aspirin
  • Emergency blanket
  • Breathing barrier
  • Instant cold compress
  • Nonlatex gloves
  • Gauze and bandage rolls
  • Sterile gauze pads
  • Oral thermometer
  • Triangular bandages
  • Tweezers

5. Health and Hygiene

“Clean” can be a relative term when you are hiking. For instance, you might need to sleep on the ground, and you are less likely to wear fresh underwear the next day.

Nonetheless, there are things you can do to keep clean when hiking.

Alcohol-based sanitizers can heal clean your hands. But if you want to take a bath, you have three options:

  • Swim by the lake or river
  • Use a trail shower
  • Do a sponge bath

What if you have your period? Consider using a menstrual cup since it is washable and produces less waste. If you cannot help but use pads or tampons, you will need to pack out your used ones when you are done.

6. Emergency Shelter

You may have planned for a day hike, but you will know what nature has in store. You may have clear skies in the morning and dark clouds in the afternoon.

Hence, you must have your emergency shelter with you. That way, you have something to protect you from the wind and rain if you got stranded.

Ultralight tarp, bivy sack, or an emergency space blanket can be an excellent choice for shelter when hiking. You can also use your trekking poles to hoist up your backpacking tent.

7. Fire Starter

A firestarter device is also a hiking must-have. You can bring a lighter, butane, or a strike igniter. What’s important is that you store them in a waterproof container.

You need firestarters to cook food and keep yourself warm if you want to stay the night at a camping ground. Moreover, campfires are an excellent insect and predator deterrent.

8. Knife and Repair Kit

Aside from being handy, a knife can serve as a multi-purpose tool when hiking.

You can use a knife when prepping food, first aid, making fire, and other emergency needs. Basically, a multi-purpose knife can get you out of a bind.

But here’s the thing: There are different kinds of knives, and you might find the options overwhelming. But here’s a quick to help you:

  • Pocket Knives: They do not take up much space, although they lack the ergonomics and stability that fixed-blade knives have.
  • Fixed-blade Knives: They offer more strength and ergonomic comfort. They are easier to clean but not space-savvy.
  • Locking Blade: It features the stability of a fixed-blade knife and the convenience of a folding knife.

And since you already have a knife, you might also want to bring a repair kit. It can include duct tape, cordage, zip ties, safety pins, and more.

Keep Your Hiking Checklist

Bringing your hiking essentials with you is a good habit to build. That way, you won’t need to panic in case something goes awry. A hiking checklist also ensures your safety and hygiene.

The best part is that you can customize this checklist based on where you are going and when.

That said, it is imperative to familiarize yourself with the trail. Doing so allows you to plan and create a suitable hiking checklist.

Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today. You can read more about Jeremy at his bio.

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