10 Hiking Essentials List

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Who is this article for? Beginner hikers or their children who do things like forget their hiking boots on a trip up Mount Toubkal in North Africa.

Trust me, Decathlon cheapie hiking shoes don’t keep your feet warm climbing North Africa’s tallest mountain.

So use this checklist to be safe!

What are the Hiking Essentials?

Before heading out on your hike, it’s crucial to be well-prepared with the right essentials. Whether you’re traversing a local trail or embarking on a backcountry adventure, these items ensure your journey is safe and enjoyable.


10 Hiking Essentials

Compass

To confidently navigate trails, always carry a map and a compass.

Map

Ensure your map is up-to-date and covers the area you’ll be hiking in. Some maps are organized into small waterproof books like the helpful Ciccerone guides.

GPS

Although GPS units are useful, they can fail or lose power, so understanding how to use a traditional compass alongside a physical map is indispensable. A GPS hiking watch can help you save battery on your phone.

PLB

A PLB is short for a “personal locator beacon” and is a way to signal for help when you’re lost.

Battery Pack – Portable Charger

Make sure it’s charged up ahead of time and put it on low power mode.

Mini- Charging Cords for iPhone or Android

These are awesome short cords so you can avoid having a long cord get in the way and take up space.

USB Headlamp

Don’t be like me and get one that’s too much firepower and dies quickly. Get a lightweight reliable headlamp and maybe bring a spare.

Emergency Tarp

Pack a tarp or bivy sack for a light and easy shelter option. Don’t forget to include some lightweight rope to fasten your shelter securely.

Emergency Blanket

Carry an emergency blanket in your pack in winter; it’s a compact lifesaver that can provide critical warmth and protection in unexpected situations.

Reusable Water Bottle

Maintaining hydration and energy is key, so a reusable water bottle or hydration system should be one of the first items in your pack. Always bring more water than you think you’ll need.

Hydration Bladder

Stay hydrated on the trail with a water hydration bladder, a convenient solution that allows you to drink hands-free and carry a substantial amount of water with ease.

Tablets to Purify Water

For uber preparation, keep water purification tablets handy in your pack to ensure you can safely turn any water source into drinkable water while hiking in the great outdoors.

Snacks

For nourishment, pack high-energy snacks like nuts, energy bars, or dried fruits to keep you fueled throughout your hike.

In Bear Country? Odorless Food Bag

Bring along an odorless food bag to keep your snacks secure and wildlife at bay, ensuring your provisions stay fresh and undetected on your hike.

A bear snatched a backpack right off a hiker when we were in Yosemite.

Your gear is a pivotal part of your hike. Invest in a sturdy pair of boots designed for the terrain you’ll encounter.

Backpack

A well-fitted backpack is another must-have, capable of carrying your essentials while evenly distributing weight. If you are in summer weather, a hiking fanny pack can usually fit all your summer essentials.

Extra Layers

Bring extra clothing and several layers to stay warm and dry. Prepare for any possible weather situation.

Never forget a first aid kit for emergencies and a hiking blister kit. It can really be a life saver. Also consider carrying bug spray if your region is prone to ticks and other critters.

Remember, these essentials act as the foundation for your hiking experience. Tailor your packing list to the specific demands of your chosen trail and the length of your walk to ensure a successful and memorable outing.

Carry a multi-tool or fixed-blade knife—or both.

Ensure you’re ready to ignite a fire by packing essentials like a lighter, matches, or flint, and in certain situations, it’s wise to bring along a camp stove and fuel for cooking meals or boiling water.

From cat 3 sunglasses like the Oakley Sutro Sunglasses, to sunscreen or UV hiking hats, ensure you are protected from the damaging effects of the sun.


Wrap up

Originally crafted in the 1930s by The Mountaineers, a Seattle-based organization dedicated to outdoor adventure, the “Ten Essentials” list has stood the test of time. Over the years, it has become an integral element of outdoor learning and activity.

Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.