Love hiking? Or trying it for the first time? Before you go out to hike, there are some hiking gear you absolutely must have. Hiking can be dangerous, even with all the tools and tech at our disposal. So, if something doesn’t go your way, you need to have hiking essentials that can help you survive in the wild.
The first ever hiking essential list was created by ‘The Mountaineers,’ in the 1930s. The aim of the list was to help individuals prepare for the worst possible situations during hiking.
The initial list contained:
- Navigational Tools
- Sun Protection
- First Aid
- Fire Equipment
- Emergency Shelter
- Extra Food
- Extra Water
- Extra Clothes
Over the years, the list has evolved to better prepare hikers for emergency and rough situations.
Here’s the hiking essentials list for hikers of today.
Hiking Essentials List for the Modern Hiker
While this is a hiking essentials list, the exact items can be customized for the trip you’re taking. If you’re going on a short hiking trip that you’re familiar with, you can take the map and compass, but you can leave the GPS and altimeter behind.
On a longer, more complex outing, you can decide if you want all the tools to help you navigate. While making a list, make sure to consider factors like weather, difficulty of the terrain, duration, and distance from help.
Let’s go over the list of hiking essentials.
1. Navigation Tools
When you’re going to hike, you need to have 5 essentials for navigation. Without these tools, it's easy to get lost or lose track of your group. You need:
You should have a topographic map to accompany you on any trips that involve anything more than a short, frequently visited nature trail.
A compass is another navigational essential for hiking. It’s a vital tool if you become disoriented while hiking. Almost all smartphones, GPS devices, and smartwatches today contain an electronic compass. Still, you should have a standard baseplate compass as it weighs almost nothing and doesn’t run on battery.
- GPS device
A GPS device is helpful when you need to find your location on a digital map. Hiking GPS devices are made to handle falls and are weatherproof. You can also use a smartphone with a GPS app, but smartphones run out of juice quicker, and you need to protect them with a case.
Whichever GPS device you’re using, make sure to keep an eye out on your battery level so you’re not left stranded.
- Altimeter watch
If you love to hike on trails that are significantly higher than sea level, then you should include an altimeter watch. It uses a barometric sensor to measure air pressure and GPS data to provide an estimation of your elevation.
- Personal locator beacon or satellite messenger
If you’re stranded from your group and are in an emergency situation, this will determine your position using GPS. When you activate the locator in an emergency situation, it will determine your position using GPS and send a message to the government or commercial satellites. If something goes wrong, then you can use a PLB or a satellite messenger.
If you’re hiking, then obviously, you’d be in the woods after sundown. This is why you need a headlamp to be able to navigate through the wilderness with ease. A headlamp is the best choice for most hikers as it keeps your hands free. Make sure to ALWAYS carry additional batteries, more than you think you’d need.
3. Sun Protection
Always keep items that can protect you from the sun. Wear sunglasses, sun protection clothes, and sunscreen. Not doing this can lead to sunburn and potentially premature skin ageing, skin cancer, and cataracts in the long term.
Here are all the things you should keep:
- Sunglasses - Buy ones that block 100% UVA & UVB rays.
- Sunscreen - Minimum of 15 SPF, and 30 SPF is recommended. Choose a sunscreen that blocks UAV and UVB rays.
- Sun-protection clothing - Lightweight, synthetic clothes that come with a UPF rating.
4. First Aid
You’ll be stepping out into the wilderness, where anything can go wrong. So you should always have a first aid kit, and you should know how to use items in the first aid kit.
The ideal first aid kits should include:
- Treatments for blisters
- Adhesive bandages of diferent sizes
- Several gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Disinfecting oinment
- Over-the-counter pain medication
- Pen and paper
- Nitrile & Gloves
How long you’ll be hiking and the number of people involved will help you decide how much stuff you should carry. If possible, keep a compact guide for dealing with medical emergencies.
Knives come in very handy when you’re out hiking. You can use it for preparing food, first aid, and aiding with other emergency needs. Every adult in the hiking group should have their own knife.
You can choose to keep a basic knife. Or, you can opt for a more elaborate knife that includes things like flathead screwdrivers, a can opener, scissors, etc. The ideal option is to carry a multi-purpose tool that has all the essential small tools.
6. Fire Equipment
In case of an emergency, you should have reliable supplies for creating and maintaining a fire. The ideal tool can be a disposable butane lighter, but matches will also work as long as they are stored in a waterproof container.
Convenience matchbooks aren’t reliable as they’re made of poor quality and flimsy.
Fire starters help you kickstart a fire in case of emergency and during wet situations. The ideal fire starter is something that can start instantly and sustain the fire for more than a few seconds.
The best option is to carry around dry tinder that’s stored in a plastic bag. Moreover, you can carry candles, priming paste, chipped wood clusters soaked in resin, and lint trappings.
If you’re in a place where firewood isn’t available, we recommend you carry a portable stove.
7. Emergency Shelter
Hiking can get rough. This is why you should have an emergency shelter to protect you from wind and rain. Some of the best options include:
- Ultra lightweight tarp
- Bivy sack
- Emergency space blanket
- Large plastic trash bag
If you’re exploring the wilderness, you can’t carry around your tent everywhere. This is why you need emergency shelter.
8. Extra food
Let’s say you’ve planned a 3-day hike; you should carry 4 or 5 days worth of food. This way, if something causes you to stay for longer, you won’t have to hunt for food. The best option is to pack items that don’t require any cooking and that have a long shelf life. Some good examples include energy bars, nuts, and dried fruits.
9. Extra water
During hiking, the resource that you need the most is water. Outdoor hydration is essential during hiking.
The general rule of thumb is to carry a Pexpo stainless steel water bottle for hiking. If you carry a full stainless steel bottle when you begin the hike, you’ll be able to drink water that’s cold and crisp.
Having a stainless steel bottle will help you stay hydrated while you’re exploring the tougher terrains.
Apart from a stainless steel bottle, you need to have an additional water source that can last you throughout your trip.
In case you run out of stored water, you should have a way of treating nearby water into drinking water. You can rely on a filter/purifier, chemical treatment tools, or stove to boil and clean water.
Based on the type of hike, you may need to carry more water than usual. Also, always prepare for an emergency by storing some extra water.
Before you begin a hike, carry a Pexpo stainless steel bottle to keep you hydrated on the go. Plus, carry a water container that you can use to carry additional water.
10. Extra clothes
During hiking, things can get abruptly wet, windy or chilly. An injury can also result in an unplanned night out. Make sure to carry extra clothes more than you require so you are prepared for emergencies.