If you’re new to the hiking world, or you want to ensure you have the essentials before you head out on your next hiking adventure, it’s essential to take the time to plan and ensure you have all the must-have items for a safe and enjoyable hike.
Whether you are traveling for an overnight hike or a 10-day hike, there are a few basics you should always pack as well as a few extra essentials that can make the experience a whole lot more comfortable and enjoyable for you.
Here are some of the hiking essentials you should be packing so you can hike like a professional in the wilderness.
1. Hiking backpack
Your hiking backpack should be adequate for the length of time you are heading away and be suitable for all of the items you need to carry on your back. Unless you are hiring a porter, you will be carrying everything yourself to ensure the package is the right size so you can carry everything from your sleeping bag to stove and change of clothes. You should also consider a backpack cover to keep your pack dry in the event of bad weather as well.
2. Moisture-Wicking Clothing and Layers
Investing in clothes designed specifically for hiking will be a godsend as they will usually be moisture-wicking material that will dry quickly and avoid rubbing in bad weather. Hiking clothing is usually lightweight, breathable, and able to dry quickly, so you have a more comfortable experience. Where possible, it is a good idea in humid or climates that might have terrain that can scratch your skin to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, particularly in tropical locations where leeches and bugs are prevalent.
3. Quality Hiking Boots
Never skimp on your hiking boots and take the time to wear them in so you don’t get painful blisters. Walk and train well ahead of your departure to ensure the boots are well broken in and won’t cause you any discomfort on your feet, heels, or the skin of your feet. Once you get a nasty blister, it can be tremendously painful to hike and could lead to infections, so take the time to hike and wear your boots properly before you head off on a long hiking expedition.
4. Adequate food and water
You will not only need to take food and water supplies but more than an adequate supply beyond what you might expect to need for your journey. A range of things can happen on a hike, and if you are stuck in the wilderness due to an injury or accident, carrying a few extra meals along with you could ensure you make it out alive.
5. Navigation tools
It can include a wide range of tools, including a compass, GPS device, PLB or satellite messenger, maps, and more. Depending on where you are going and the length of your hike, you can ask a local expert in hiking what they would take to gauge whether you are adequately prepared, and you have the tools to help navigate your journey from A to B.
6. First aid supplies and medicines
Having the right medicine ahead of your hike and a fully stocked first-aid kit is paramount. Ensure you have enough bandages amongst your hiking items, and a wide selection of first aid if you need to make-do while support arrives. If you are hiking in a very isolated area, it can be days before a rescue team can get to you, so you need to have the supplies to fend for yourself and keep anyone in your group safe and comfortable until you can get professional medical attention.
7. Multi-tool and knife
Pack a multi-purpose knife to allow you to cut nylon, cut back foliage, clear a camping spot, or hunt. This is road-side essential! The knife you choose is a personal decision; however, using a multi-tool with a spoon, knife, and even a fork in it can help to save you from packing utensils and lighten up your load.
8. Extra Clothes
Hiking is messy, you can get stuck in streams, it rains, and it can be sweaty, so be prepared with a different set of clothes should you need them. There is nothing more comforting during a long hike than a fresh set of clothes, and if you are likely to be out in the wilderness for a week or more, your hiking mates will probably appreciate a sweet-smelling comrade.
Your headlamp will allow you to cook without needing a torch and help when you are out during the night in the bush toilet. A headlamp is also helpful if you are hiking through thick or dense forest or terrain and is another great tool that can ensure your safety.
Consider adding some fire starters to your hiking essentials list and speed up the process when you need to get warm and sort out a fire at the end of the day. Carrying some fire starters amongst your hiking items is a great way to ensure no matter the weather that you are going to be able to get a fire started without delay.
No matter the length of your hike or the terrain, it can be a tough experience, and carrying some of the items listed above for hiking is a great way to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience in the mountains.
Take the time to understand the terrain, the campsites your likely to be using, and the weather ahead of your hike, and invest in quality hiking essentials that will stand the test of time.
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