Hiking Essentials

Anyone who thinks about going hiking will most likely have their route sorted out. They know all the distances of where they are going before they have their hiking gear sorted. This can lead to rushing to get it all ready, so a backpacking gear checklist can be essential to ensure you don’t forget anything.

While many floating around tell you all you need to take, some of the items will never be taken, especially if you are only out for a day hike. This list covers the things you need for a day hike and those emergencies if you are caught out.

Backpacking Essentials List

Backpaack for hikings


A trusty backpack is what you need to make sure all your essential hiking gear is in one place. You can get away with a daypack, but once you are serious about hiking, you will want a good backpacking pack capable of holding between 25-30 liters.

Less than this, and you may not fit in all you need, and much larger, and it will be half-empty and won’t sit on your back in a good way. Things to look for are a hip belt and a sternum strap. These can hold the pack in place while you are walking.

Clothing Layers

Adding layers is the best way to keep warm and to wick sweat away from the body. However, it is the outer layers, which can be crucial. Many outdoor adventurers wear all the right layers, the light fleecy jacket, and forget a rain jacket.

If the weather turns, you need something that can protect you from the elements; this is especially true if you have no spare clothing. A good pair of hiking shoes go along with your layers because rough terrain can cause more damage than good if you are not prepared for where your route takes you.

Wool socks should be included in these. They don’t just add comfort, but they help you’re your feet warm when the weather drops.

One thing that is not considered very often is to take a bandana. These are perfect for when the sun is high, and you need some head protection or something to dab the sweat away. Not only this, but if it gets cold, you can use this multi-purpose item like a scarf. (Read Calories Burned Hiking)

Sun Protection

Sunscreen is often thought of as something for the beach, yet you are more prone to sunburn once you start going up in elevation.

To accompany this, a brimmed hat and sunglasses. These are also recommended in snowy conditions. Snow blindness can set in when the sun dips earlier in the day.

One thing to add here is lip balm. Your lips can dry quickly, and this will help keep them supple before they have a chance to crack. This isn’t just a pain, but it can be an area for bacteria to go.

Navigation Tools

Some serious hikers now use GPS systems to keep track of where they are. While these are helpful, there is nothing better than a trust map and compass.

These will show you the trail you are on, and you won’t suffer from dead batteries or lack of signal. (Read Hiking Vs Backpacking)

The main thing with these is to understand how to use them. This can be a lifesaving skill in its own right. Maps should be tearproof, and additionally, keeping them in a Ziploc can stop them from getting wet.

Hiking emergency kit

Emergency First Aid Kits

You can combine an emergency kit and first aid kits; however, it can be better to keep them separated. You can purchase a ready-made kit for first aid, or you can build up your own as long as you have all the backpacking essentials to keep you safe.

These should include bandages, gauze, Band-Aid, insect repellant, antibiotic cream, pins, and a small pair of scissors for the basics. When you pack your hiking necessities emergency pack, you can add spare batteries, additional lighters, matches, or fire-starting tools.

A small pocketknife, needle, thread, and tape. This may sound strange, but it can make all the difference in an emergency. Duct tape can repair tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and even walking boots that have fallen apart. It has countless uses and is one of the best things to get you out of a bind.

One other item to have at hand is a multi-tool. You may have a spare pocketknife, but these multi-faceted tools can perform all manner of operations. One final thing that you should include is a light tarpaulin and some twine. This makes a great emergency shelter if you need to get out of some bad weather quickly.

You can also use these as an overnight shelter if you need to stay on the trail longer. Once this is erected, you can suffice with putting sleeping pads on the ground and then just using a sleeping bag for warmth.

Headlamps and Flashlights

You never know when you may be caught after the sun has dropped. If you are caught out, you will need some form of light.

Headlamps are ideal, as you don’t need to hold them, and they point exactly where you are looking.

Trekking Poles

Trekking poles may not appear to be an essential item, but they can help take pressure off your knees. This helps if you are on an incline and need that extra oomph. There are a couple of other areas where trekking poles can help. (Read How to Soften Stiff Leather Shoes For Hiking)

If you take two of them, you can trust them together with your tape and use them to support your tarpaulin. This makes a great shelter if it is raining hard.

Another time they can be used if anyone is unfortunate and has a fall that results in the need for a splint; you can wrap the leg in the sleeping pad and use one of the poles as support before wrapping it in tape.

Hiking food essentials

Nutrition and drinks

Light calorie-packed foods are fantastic for a backpacking trip that doesn’t span into another day. These can save you cooking, so there is no need for cooking gear. Trail mix, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and jerky are a good idea to pack.

All these take up little space and weigh next to nothing. Foods for more substantial meals can include bagels, peanut butter, and meats like salami that are vacuum-packed. You can purchase dehydrated meals that require boiling water to be added. These are tasty as well as being warm in the belly.

One of the most important things to bring when hiking is water and a good water bottle. Not only does it quench your thirst, but also it keeps muscles and joints moving correctly, which helps avoid injury.

Water bottles will be heavy when full, so you need to stock up on your fluid intake before you set off and make sure you can reach the next water point before you empty your water bottle.

If you are in a strange area, it can be worth taking water purification tablets if there is no freshwater. If you are out all day, it is good to know how much water is recommended. For a 24-hour period, one gallon of water per person.

This can be heavy in one bottle so that you can split this between more than one, or some of the newer backpacks for daylong hikes contain hydration bladders. These can be accessed via a tube, which makes drinking on the go very easy. (Find the Best Thin Gloves)

Personal Hygiene

At the top will be toilet paper. This will need to be used, and when done so, most leave no trace hikers will bury this with a small trowel. Human waste needs to be buried around eight inches deep.

In the same breath, you will need hand sanitizer. This can save water, and making sure your hands are clean are the first step in protection against bacteria. One final thing you should include is an extra-large trash bag. At the very least, it can be used to take all your rubbish home, so you leave no trace.

In the case of emergencies, you can slit this. You then use it as a shelter. You can also cut holes in it for your head and arms and use it to protect yourself from the rain because you forgot your rain jacket.

As you can see from all of the above, there are quite a few items on your day hike packing list, but none of them takes up too much space or weigh a great deal.

If food and water are the heaviest things you are carrying, your load should be getting lighter as you round the hiking loop and head back in the direction of home. Hiking is great for your health and great for your children’s health too.

Hiking Essentials