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Essential Hiking Gear Checklist: Choose The Right Gear For Your Hike!

The specific hiking gear you need will vary depending on the different terrains and climates you’re hiking in. But there are some essential items that every hiker should have before hitting the trails.

Man stands over looking canyon with large pack on

Essential Hiking Gear Checklist:

  • Hiking shoes (worn in) – alright so you’re not likely to forget these, but it’s really important that you don’t hit the trail in brand new boots. Wear them in, make sure you can wear them for hours on end without getting those new-shoe blisters before your hike. Also, check you have the type of boots you need for the terrain you’ll be hiking.
  • Backpack (for multi-day hikes) – you’ll need one that supports your back and make sure you even out the weight in it when packing.
  • Daypack (for single-day hikes) – one with a waist strap to limit the weight on your shoulders is a great idea.
  • Bumbag/Fannypack (for short hikes) – it can also be used along with your other packs to just carry the essentials.
  • Thick socks- it’s always a good idea to have an extra pair even if you’re just going for a single day hike.
  • Water storage- Camelbaks, or similar water storage devices, are preferable because they decrease in size as you drink and can store large amounts of water.
  • Water purifier – For longer treks, where there is likely to be running water along the way, this is a must. If you are not using a purifier with a built-in filter make sure you also have a clean cloth to remove the debris before purifying the water.
  • High energy snacks – If you are doing a multi-day hike, make sure you are taking high energy snacks and meals. For single day hikes snacks like energy bars, trail mix and bananas are excellent sources of energy.
  • Trail maps and a compass – it’s also a good idea to learn how to read a map using a compass properly before heading out on your hike, especially if you aren’t following a trail.
  • Emergency space blanket – they are small, light and could save your life. If you’re heading out for a week or an hour, make sure you have one in your pack.
  • First aid kit – should include adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, eye drops, gauze pads and adhesive tape, pain relief medication, personal medications, antihistamines, tweezers, scissors and safety pins at a minimum.
  • Matches – preferably waterproof.
  •  Pocket knife – with eating utensils on it if possible.
  • Flashlight or headlamp- make sure to bring extra batteries or get a solar charging light.
  • Whistle – make sure it’s loud.
  • Rope and tarp- only really necessary for overnight hikes.
  • A watch – preferably analogue but a well charged digital or smartwatch is also fine.
  • Sunscreen and a wide brim hat – be sure to apply sunscreen regularly as you’re likely to sweat it off.
  • Insect repellant
  • Toilet paper and plastic bags- preferably ziplock, and a small trowel for digging toilets holes is also not a bad idea.
  • Hiking poles – optional depending on terrain and how strong your knees are.

Check local information centres and websites, for the hike you are going to undertake, for more specific information on what hiking gear is needed for that hike.

For tips on how to pick the best backpack for you click here, or for hiking inspiration check out our pick of the top ten treks in the world.

Have I missed any of the essentials? Let me in the comment section below. Or start planning your next hiking adventure here.