Top 10 Must Have Hiking Essentials

hiking essentials

When the time comes to pack for your hiking trip, you’ll find that there are lots of items you’ll want to bring along. However, space is limited when you’re hiking, and it’s important not to bring along unnecessary items and to only pack the essentials, the things you truly need. If you’re having trouble deciding what you need to bring along and what needs to stay behind, read on to learn about the top ten most important hiking essentials.

1. Navigational Items

A hiking trail can often look deceptively simple…until you find yourself in the middle of the trail. In the woods, everything can start to look the same. You might be unsure if you’re going in circles, if you’ve already passed the same spot, or if you’re even headed in the right direction.

Trail markers can sometimes be missing or incorrect, and a host of other problems can ensue. As such, you should always, always bring along at least a map and a compass to help you find your way if you get confused.

2. Extra Food and Water

If worst comes to worst and you do happen to get stranded on a trail, the last thing you want is to be without food and water. Without sustenance, it can be downright impossible to find the energy to find your way back. As such, you should always pack at least enough food and water to help you make it through a day or two.

You don’t have to pack heavy items; remember, when you’re hungry, a couple of energy bars and a bottle of water can go a long way!

3. Duct Tape

When you’re hiking, duct tape is pretty much a magical multi-tool. Bring along a roll, and you can use it for just about anything. It can provide an easy way to keep your water bottle close by, a quick and easy fix for a broken knife or other tool, or even a quick repair job for a holey tent or boat.

4. Sun Protection

The sun’s rays may look inviting, but they are actually harsh, draining, and dangerous. To help protect your skin from burning and blistering, slather on the sunblock before your hike and keep a bottle close by for re-applications.

Also keep sunglasses handy. If you protect yourself from the sun, you’ll feel better and have the energy you need to make it through your hike.

5. Layered Clothing

The weather can often do unexpected things. A day that’s warm and sunny, for example, may give way to a night that’s chilly and rainy. Since you need to be prepared for all weather conditions, it’s best to bring easily layered clothing.

A tank top with a t-shirt, a sweater, and a jacket on top, for example, prepares you for all weather conditions, allowing you to add or remove clothes as needed to maintain comfort.

6. A First-Aid Kit

Nobody likes to think about getting injured while hiking, but unfortunately, injuries can and do happen. Be prepared for the worst by always bringing along a simple first-aid kit. As long as it has the basics, like bandages, ointment, pain relievers, and rubbing alcohol, you should be okay no matter what happens.

7. Light

Night can get pretty darn dark…and scary…in the woods. To make sure you can always find your way and see clearly, bring along some type of safe lighting source. Whether it’s a headlamp, a flashlight, a lantern, or all three, you can never go wrong by packing lighting. Also load up on extra batteries just in case.

8. A Lighter and Matches

A fire is necessary for camp cooking, for illumination, and, most importantly of all, to stay warm. As such, make sure you can always make a fire easily Take along a fire kit, or, at the very least, a lighter and some matches in a waterproof container.

Make sure you bring both the matches and the lighter, just in case one doesn’t work for whatever reason.

9. Insect Repellent

Though you might like the idea of “roughing it,” know that mosquitoes and other bugs can get pretty annoying and can quickly turn any hike into a miserable experience. As such, bring along insect repellent of the “deep woods” variety.

Make sure you get the kind that protects not only against annoying pests, but also against more serious threats, like ticks and leeches.

10. A Way to Call for Help

If you get stranded or seriously injured, you’re going to need to call for help. That’s why bringing along a few different communication options is always smart. You can take your cell phone, but don’t bank on getting a signal. Have back-up options like a satellite phone, a two-way radio, and/or flares and other emergency signaling devices.

So, there you have it- a few items to never leave behind! Even if you pack only these items for your hiking trip, you should fare pretty well!