17 Essentials When Hiking (Find Out)

If you’re a hiker, chances are that you’ve been on more than one adventure. And while every hike is different, they do have some things in common. 

For example: if you don’t have the right gear with you, it will make your life harder and potentially unsafe. Before you head out on your next adventure here are 17 essentials I always take with me when hiking:

THE 10 ESSENTIALS OF HIKING // My Gear List – YouTube
1. Hiking essentials are crucial for a successful outdoor adventure.
2. Proper gear, including camping pillows and pads, can enhance comfort during hikes.
3. Packing blankets and pillows efficiently is important for optimizing space.
4. Understanding the concept of hiking essentials helps in planning and preparation.
5. Knowing the estimated time for hiking specific trails, like the Stanford Dish, is helpful.


A good rule of thumb is to carry at least one liter of water per person per day. During the hike, you will need to constantly replenish your body’s fluid levels and hydrate before, during and after your hike. 

If you are thirsty, it’s already too late and you’re already dehydrated. Carry a bottle or hydration pack with enough water to last for at least 24 hours.

When it comes to a good night’s sleep during camping, a comfortable pillow is essential. Discover the worth of camping pillows and find the perfect one for your outdoor adventures. Check out our guide on Are Camping Pillows Worth It? to make your camping experience more enjoyable.

Hiking Backpack

When choosing a backpacking backpack, the first question to ask yourself is whether you will be carrying a tent or shelter on your adventure. 

If you plan to carry a tent, then you should choose a backpack designed for hiking and camping with gear. These backpacks typically have extra pockets and compartments for storing items like sleeping bags and tents in addition to other outdoor equipment.

You should also consider how long of an adventure you are planning when purchasing your backpack. 

The size of bag required will depend on how long of an excursion you are planning as well as how far off trail or into nature setting are heading (more remote locations require more supplies). 

Backpack sizes vary greatly but generally range from 20 liters up to 100+ liters (5 quarts). If this is your first time hiking with gear so make sure it fits comfortably before heading out on the trail!

Osprey30LLightweight, adjustable fit
Gregory40LVentilated back panel, durable materials
Deuter50LRain cover, multiple pockets
The North Face60LAdjustable suspension system, hydration compatible
Kelty70LExternal frame, load lifter straps


Navigation is the most important part of any hike. You’ll need to know how to use a compass, map and GPS to find your way around. 

A good compass should include declination correction so it’s accurate north of the equator (the needle will be pointing in between due south).

A map can help you plan your route, but it’s not necessary for navigation once you’re on the trail. Instead, bring a GPS device or use an app on your phone with turn-by-turn directions.

Hiking can take a toll on your body, especially when it comes to long distances. Investing in a quality camping pad can provide the comfort and support you need. Learn about the benefits of camping pads and choose the right one for your next adventure. Read our article on Are Camping Pads Worth It? to make your hiking trips more comfortable.

First Aid Kit

The first aid kit is an essential tool that should be carried while hiking. It needs to contain bandages, gauze, pain reliever and antiseptic. The kit should also have tweezers and scissors for removing splinters or ticks. 

The contents of your first aid kit will depend on your activity level and the length of time you’ll be out hiking. 

If you’re going on a day hike then a small kit with bandages, gauze pads and pain relievers will suffice but if you plan on spending more than one night out then it would be better to carry more supplies such as antihistamines for insect bites or even snake venom antidotes if necessary!

To make sure that everything stays dry in case it rains during your hike make sure that your first aid kit has its own waterproof container so nothing gets ruined when water starts falling from above!

Extra Clothing (For Warmth And Dryness)

You need to be prepared for the worst. In addition to your water, you should always carry extra food, a first aid kit, and extra clothing (for warmth and dryness). This can include:

  • A waterproof jacket (if it’s raining or snowing)
  • Waterproof pants (if it’s raining or snowing)
  • A warm hat (in case it gets cold)
  • Warm gloves (in case it gets cold)
  • Warm socks (to change out when they get wet)

Emergency Shelter

An emergency shelter is your last line of defense. If you become lost or stranded, it will provide warmth and protection from the elements until help arrives. 

Emergency shelters are often lightweight and easy to carry in a hiking pack, but they can be bulky when packed up because they’re usually made of plastic or polyethylene. 

The goal is for you to be able to assemble the shelter quickly without having any tools on hand; this means that it’s important for them to be waterproof, windproof and breathable so that moisture won’t get trapped inside while you’re trying to stay warm.

MSRLightweight Tent2-3 persons
SOLEmergency Bivy1 person
Black DiamondTarp Shelter4-6 persons
NemoEmergency Blanket2 persons
Big AgnesUltralight Shelter1-2 persons

Fire Starter Kit

A fire starter kit is an essential for any outdoor adventure, and will give you a quick and easy flame in even the worst conditions. 

A fire starter kit should usually include: matches, lighter/bic lighter, firestarter (such as kindling), candles (for emergencies) and tinder such as small pieces of dry wood or lint from your pocket.

Properly packing your camping gear is crucial for a successful trip. When it comes to blankets and pillows, there are specific techniques you can follow to maximize space and convenience. Explore our step-by-step guide on How to Pack a Blanket and Pillow for Camping to ensure you’re well-prepared for your next outdoor excursion.

Pocket Knife Or Multi-Tool

A pocket knife or multi-tool is a must-have for anyone looking to take on an adventure. They’re easy to carry, and useful in all sorts of situations: from opening a can of beans to cutting rope. If you don’t have one already, here’s what you should look for when shopping around:

Size: Pocket knives come in all shapes and sizes so make sure the one you get fits your hand comfortably. A good rule of thumb is that if it feels too heavy or bulky while holding it out at arm’s length, then it may be too big.

Sharpness: It goes without saying that a sharp blade will last longer than a dull one – not only does this mean less hassle when trying to cut through thick materials but also less risk when using your knife as well (since dull blades are more likely to slip).

Blade Type: The blade type will largely depend on what kind of tasks most interest you (e.g., hunting vs cooking) but there are some decisions that should be made before purchasing any type of blade just because they’ll make every task easier once you’ve chosen them correctly: 

Serrated edges work better than straight ones when cutting through tough materials such as rope; smooth blades are easier for slicing fruits/vegetables whereas serrated ones tend towards thicker cuts like meats; folding blades allow more versatility than fixed ones since they can fold away into smaller spaces but not necessarily vice versa.”


A whistle is a must-have in your hiking pack. A whistle can be used to signal for help if you are lost or hurt, and it can also be used as an early warning device to scare off animals that might be in the area. 

You may even want to bring a couple whistles with you on your hike, so that if one gets lost, there will still be one remaining.

Whistles are easily accessible from any outdoor gear store or sporting goods store and come in several different designs and colors.

Fox 40PlasticPealess design, loud sound
AcmeBrassClassic design, durable
StormPlasticAll-weather, compact size
SOLPlasticBuilt-in clip, emergency signal
VargoTitaniumLightweight, corrosion-resistant

Sun Protection

The sun is a formidable adversary and we need to protect ourselves. Sunburn, exposure to ultraviolet radiation and heat can all lead to skin cancer, so it’s important that you wear sunscreen while hiking.

There are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing a sunscreen:

  • Choose one with broad spectrum protection against UVB and UVA rays (SPF 15 or above)
  • Look for one that offers water resistance so you don’t have to reapply every time you go swimming or get caught in the rain
  • Make sure it has good UVA protection as well—this is where some chemicals in regular day-to-day sunscreens may cause harm over time by destabilizing the DNA of cells in the body, increasing your risk for cancer.

Embarking on a hiking adventure requires careful planning and preparation. Knowing the essential items to bring can make a significant difference in your experience. Discover the six must-have hiking essentials and how they contribute to a successful trek. Check out our article on What Are the 6 Hiking Essentials to ensure you’re fully equipped for your next hiking expedition.

Headlamp Or Flashlight

A headlamp is more comfortable and versatile than a flashlight. It allows you to see the trail ahead of you, and then turn around to see what’s behind. 

You can also use it for reading at night or looking through your backpack for something without having to hold up a bulky flashlight in one hand. 

Headlamps are safer too: when hiking at night, it’s important not only that your hands are free but also that they’re visible from all angles (i.e., there’s no risk of being hit by someone who didn’t see them).

Extra Food

It’s always a good idea to pack extra food and water in case your hike takes longer than expected. These items are heavy, bulky, and sometimes difficult to find once they’re empty—so it’s better to have them on hand than not.

Food can help you stay warm if the weather turns unexpectedly chilly during your walk. It can also help keep you hydrated when water sources are scarce or non-existent (e.g., if you plan on hiking through a desert). 

In addition, carrying along some extra snacks will give your body the energy it needs to keep going when fatigue sets in after hours of walking up hillsides or over rocky terrain.

The amount of time that you should pack enough food for will vary depending on how much time is recommended between meals while hiking (this information can be found online or from park rangers), as well as how long it takes for your body type to become malnourished from lack of food (again, this information is available online).

Waterproof Matches, Lighter Or Firestarter.

Waterproof matches or a lighter. If you’re hiking in areas where fires are allowed, waterproof matches and/or a lighter are essential. 

You can use them to start your campfire, but they also come in handy if you find yourself stranded with no heat source and snow falling around you. Just remember to keep them out of the reach of children!

A firestarter. A good idea if your destination is cold and snowy is to pack some kind of firestarter in case the weather turns against you. 

There are many kinds available on Amazon, ranging from simple flint sticks that generate sparks when struck against steel striker pins to elaborate devices incorporating lighters and other tools into their design. 

If this seems like too much effort for what might be needed only once (if ever), consider bringing along an old cardboard tube or even one of those tubes inside which toothpaste comes wrapped the friction created by rubbing them together will create enough heat for ignition purposes.

Map And Compass/GPS

A compass can be a useful tool for finding directions, but it is not the same thing as GPS, which uses satellites to locate your position. 

A compass requires no power source and only needs to be set so that it aligns with magnetic north (the North Pole). A GPS device requires batteries and will provide you with coordinates based on your location and direction.

The Stanford Dish is a popular hiking trail known for its scenic beauty and challenging terrain. If you’re planning to hike this trail, it’s essential to have an idea of the time it takes to complete the journey. Explore our guide on How Long Does It Take to Hike the Stanford Dish to estimate the duration and make the most of your hiking experience.

Having The Right Gear When Hiking Will Make You Happier And Safer

Hiking is fun, but it’s also dangerous. You want to make sure you are safe when hiking so that you can enjoy the outdoors and make sure that you don’t get lost or hurt. When planning your hike, always make sure to have the right gear for your trip. 

If someone gets lost on a hike, they might get injured from falling or from being cold. They could also starve if they do not have food with them! It is important to plan ahead so that these things don’t happen because then everyone will be able to enjoy themselves while they’re out in nature enjoying all its wonders!


In summary, if you’re going to be hiking it is best to have the right gear and know how to use it. It will make your experience much more enjoyable and safe. 

There are many things that can go wrong when hiking so having all of these essentials at hand will increase your chances of surviving in any situation.

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources you can explore to learn more about hiking essentials and preparation:

  • What to Take Hiking: Things for Your Hiking Essentials List: Discover a comprehensive list of items you should consider bringing on your hiking trips. Learn about essential gear, clothing, and other useful items to enhance your outdoor experience.
  • 10 Essentials for Outdoor Adventures: Explore the ten essential items that every hiker should carry to ensure safety and preparedness on the trails. Find out why these items are crucial and how they can contribute to a successful outdoor adventure.
  • Day Hiking Checklist: Get a detailed checklist of essential items for day hiking provided by REI, a trusted outdoor retailer. This resource covers gear, clothing, food, and safety items to help you stay organized and well-equipped during your day hikes.


What are the essential items to bring when hiking?

The essential items to bring when hiking typically include a map and compass, navigation tools, extra clothing layers, sun protection, a headlamp or flashlight, a first aid kit, a knife or multi-tool, matches or a lighter, food and water, and an emergency shelter.

How do I choose the right hiking gear?

Choosing the right hiking gear involves considering factors such as the terrain, weather conditions, duration of the hike, personal preferences, and budget. Researching and reading reviews can help you make informed decisions when selecting gear such as hiking boots, backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags.

What should I wear when hiking?

Wear comfortable and moisture-wicking clothing layers appropriate for the weather conditions. Opt for breathable and lightweight materials that provide protection from the sun and elements. Don’t forget to wear appropriate footwear, such as hiking boots or shoes, and use socks designed for hiking to prevent blisters.

How do I prepare for a long-distance hike?

Preparing for a long-distance hike involves physical conditioning, researching the trail, planning your route and itinerary, packing the necessary gear and supplies, arranging transportation and accommodations, and familiarizing yourself with safety protocols and emergency procedures.

How can I stay safe while hiking?

To stay safe while hiking, it’s essential to plan your hike, share your itinerary with someone reliable, stay on marked trails, bring the necessary safety gear, be aware of your surroundings, stay hydrated and nourished, protect yourself from the sun, and know how to react in case of emergencies or encounters with wildlife.