What Are The 6 Hiking Essentials? (My Experience)

Hiking is one of my favorite activities. In fact, I’ve been hiking since I was a kid. But if you’re new to the sport or just don’t have the right gear, then you might not be getting the most out of your time outdoors. 

That’s why I’m here to tell you about six essential items that’ll get you ready for any hike.

Cub Scout Six Essentials (Plus 4 Scouts BSA) – YouTube
Understanding the six essential items for hiking is crucial for a safe and enjoyable experience.
The hiking essentials include a backpack, proper footwear, clothing layers, navigation tools, first aid kit, and plenty of water.
Having the right gear and being prepared can make a significant difference during your hiking adventures.
It’s important to consider the duration and difficulty level of your hike when packing the essentials.
Don’t forget to check the weather conditions and pack accordingly to ensure your comfort and safety.


Navigation is a huge part of hiking, especially if you’re going off-trail. The best way to navigate is with a map and compass but if you don’t have one on hand, don’t fret! Your phone can be used as an alternative navigation tool.

You’ll need some kind of way to see where you are. A good device for this is an app with GPS tracking capabilities: Some popular ones include Google Maps and Backcountry Navigator NG Pro. 

If you’d rather not use your phone’s battery (and the signal!) while hiking, look into getting a handheld or wrist-mounted GPS unit instead.

When it comes to hiking, having the right gear is crucial. If you’re looking for waterproof hiking boots that can withstand any weather condition, check out our expert handpicked guide on what hiking boots are actually waterproof. Get ready to conquer the trails with confidence!

Sun protection

Sun protection is a must. It’s important to wear sunscreen, but you can’t stop there—you also need to wear a hat and sunglasses. 

Long sleeves and pants will protect your skin from harmful rays as well, so don’t forget those either!

Additionally, lip balm can help prevent sunburned lips. Lip balm with SPF is even better for extra protection against the sun’s UV rays!

SunscreenA protective lotion or cream applied to the skin to block harmful UV rays and prevent sunburn.
SunglassesEyewear designed to protect the eyes from bright sunlight and harmful UV rays.
Sun HatA wide-brimmed hat that provides shade and protects the face, neck, and ears from the sun.
UPF ClothingClothing with built-in Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) to shield the skin from UV radiation.
Sun UmbrellaPortable umbrella that offers shade and protection from direct sunlight.
Lip Balm with SPFLip balm formulated with Sun Protection Factor (SPF) to protect the lips from sun damage.


Hiking is all about being prepared, especially when it comes to choosing gear and clothing. The right gear can make or break your hike, so it’s important to choose wisely. 

When it comes to insulating layers for hiking, there are a few things you need to know:

Layers are key! It’s important to wear clothing that allows you freedom of movement while still protecting yourself from the elements and keeping you warm. 

When choosing what type of clothing works best for you on your hike, think about how much insulation each layer provides as well as whether the fabric is waterproof or windproof. 

For example cotton is not windproof nor does it provide any insulation whatsoever; however wool will both keep water out and provide some warmth due to its ability to trap air molecules close together (this process is known as “thermal insulation”).

To ensure comfort while staying warm during your hikes we recommend wearing layers with breathable materials like wool or synthetic fibers underneath insulated shells made out of waterproof fabrics such as Gore-Tex fabrics

Planning a 7-mile hike? Make sure you have all the essential gear and supplies. Our comprehensive guide on what to bring on a 7-mile hike covers everything from proper clothing to navigation tools. Don’t hit the trails unprepared!


There is no question that hiking at night is more dangerous than during the day. This means you should always hike with a flashlight or headlamp, or at least have a red light on your keychain. If you’re only going to bring one illumination, make it a flashlight. 

A bright beam of light will help you avoid tripping over roots and rocks in the dark, as well as alert drivers to your presence when walking along roads. 

When choosing a light source for your journey, think about how easy it would be to carry around in your hand (or pocket) and how bright its beam will be when held up against other lights around it (you don’t want to blind anyone). 

First-aid supplies

Having the right first-aid supplies is extremely important. Pack bandages, gauze pads and tape, antiseptic wipes, alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, disinfecting wipes and a thermometer. 

Always bring sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 (including both UVA and UVB protection) to protect your skin from harmful rays. 

You should also carry insect repellent that contains DEET or picaridin if you’re going hiking in warm weather or through wooded areas with lots of mosquitos — these products are available at most drug stores.

LED FlashlightPortable handheld light source using light-emitting diodes for efficient and bright illumination.
Incandescent BulbTraditional light bulb that produces light by heating a filament until it glows.
Fluorescent LightLight produced by passing an electric current through a tube containing low-pressure mercury vapor.
Halogen LampIncandescent lamp filled with halogen gas for enhanced efficiency and longer lifespan.
HeadlampHands-free light worn on the head or helmet, providing illumination in the direction you’re looking.
Glow StickSelf-contained chemiluminescent device that emits light through a chemical reaction.

Safety is paramount while hiking, and knowing what to do in case of a snake bite is essential. Our detailed article on what to do if you are bitten by a snake while hiking provides valuable information on first aid measures and preventive tips. Stay informed and prepared for any situation on the trails!


If you’re hiking in an area where fires are permitted, then having a fire is an essential part of any camping trip. 

However, if you are going to be hiking in an area where fires aren’t allowed such as the Smoky Mountains or Yellowstone National Park, then I would recommend bringing some portable heaters that can provide both heat and light for your campsite.

You should always plan ahead for your safety when having a fire so you don’t end up getting injured or causing damage to the environment. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure there aren’t any flammable materials around that could catch on fire
  • Keep your campfire small and contained so it doesn’t spread out of control

Looking to measure your hiking progress in terms of distance? If you’re wondering how long it takes to hike 5 kilometers, we’ve got you covered. Check out our informative article on how long does it take to hike 5 km and get ready to set new hiking goals!

These are the 6 things you should always have with you on a hike.

  • Navigation
  • Sun protection
  • Insulation
  • Illumination
  • First aid supplies
  • Fire
BackpackSturdy and comfortable backpack to carry your essentials during the hike.
Water BottleReusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the hike.
Trail Map/GPSMap or GPS device for navigation and staying on the right trail.
First Aid KitBasic first aid supplies for any minor injuries or emergencies on the hike.
Snacks/Energy BarsNutritious snacks or energy bars to keep your energy levels up during the hike.
Multi-ToolVersatile tool with various functions like a knife, pliers, screwdriver, etc.

Trekking poles can be a valuable asset during your hiking adventures, providing stability and support. If you’re wondering how to properly carry and use trekking poles, our helpful guide on how do you carry trekking poles has got you covered. Make the most of your hiking experience with the right techniques!


Going on a hike is a great way to get some fresh air and enjoy nature. By taking the time to prepare for your trip, you can make sure that you have all of the essentials with you. 

This will help keep everyone safe and happy during their adventure!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources you may find helpful for further information on hiking essentials:


Here are some frequently asked questions about hiking essentials:

What are the essential items for hiking?

The essential items for hiking typically include a backpack, proper footwear, clothing layers, navigation tools (such as a map and compass), first aid kit, headlamp or flashlight, sunscreen, water, and food.

Why is it important to carry hiking essentials?

Carrying hiking essentials ensures your safety and preparedness while on the trails. These items help you navigate, stay hydrated, protect yourself from the elements, and handle any potential emergencies or injuries that may occur.

How do I choose the right backpack for hiking?

When selecting a backpack for hiking, consider factors such as capacity, fit, comfort, durability, and organization features. It should be able to accommodate your gear, distribute weight evenly, and provide a comfortable carrying experience.

Are there any specific clothing requirements for hiking?

It’s essential to wear appropriate clothing for hiking, including moisture-wicking and breathable layers, sturdy and comfortable footwear, and weather-appropriate outerwear. Avoid cotton clothing as it retains moisture and can make you feel cold and uncomfortable.

Do I need to bring a first aid kit when hiking?

Yes, carrying a first aid kit is crucial for hiking. It should include basic medical supplies like bandages, antiseptic ointment, pain relievers, blister treatments, and any necessary personal medications. Be familiar with how to use the items in your kit.

These FAQs provide answers to common questions about hiki