What You Need When Going Hiking

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Not sure what to pack for your next excursion in the great outdoors? Check out our list of essentials you need when going hiking.

You’ve planned an outdoor excursion with family or friends, but now the time has come to pack. Do you know what you need when going hiking? There is always the dilemma of what and how much stuff you should take on your hiking trip.

On the one hand, you can pack light and avoid weighing yourself down on the trail. But that might make you leave out an item you need in a pinch!

Every person and every hiking trip is different. You should double-check to see if all these items fit your nature outing. That being said, these things are pretty much the bare-bones basics. Follow our list below, and you’ll have all the essential hiking gear to keep you safe and comfortable for your adventure!

Wear a Comfy Outfit

Wearing a comfortable outfit can make a hiking trip from good to excellent. Cozy socks in a quick-drying fabric ensure your feet won’t take you out of the game too early. Loose and stretchy clothes in moisture-wicking materials allow you to move freely and ensure you won’t feel sweaty and gross, no matter how long your adventure lasts.

To get designer activewear that will keep you comfy all day long, head to Amazon. They have many brands like Reebok, Nike, Adidas, and more for a steal! You will find a high-quality, fashionable hiking outfit that will survive even the most intense hiking adventure.

No matter the time of year, dress in layers (or at least pack some extra cold-weather clothes in your bag). The tops of mountains and the interiors of caves are chilly all year round! Start with a lightweight tank or t-shirt in a moisture-wicking fabric to keep you cool and comfy. Then add a fleece sweatshirt or a long-sleeved t-shirt on top if your arms get cold so you can enjoy your hike without shivering.

Even if the weatherman calls for a perfectly sunny day, remember to pack some rain gear just in case. Ponchos are great because they fold up super small to fit into your backpack. On the other hand, a waterproof, breathable jacket works even better at keeping you safe from the elements. You won’t get sweaty and gross but won’t be soaked with rainwater.

Invest In Good Boots

Girl's feet standing on mossy rock
Credit: Pexels

When trekking up a mountain, nothing is worse than having sore feet. Whether they are tired from lack of support, rubbed raw, or riddled with blisters, foot problems will cut your hike short. That’s why wearing high-quality, well-fitting boots is vital for hiking!

Unlike sneakers, proper hiking boots support your feet and ankles as you explore uneven terrain. They also have a sturdier tread on the bottom so you don’t slip on rocks or loose ground. A higher top, especially with thick socks, can protect you from ticks and insects during the warmer months.

Check out this sturdy, waterproof pair, plus tons of other styles at excellent prices on Amazon.

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Want to learn more about choosing the best hiking boots for you? Check out the helpful video below.

Stock Up On Energy-Boosting Snacks

Hiking can take a lot out of you in no time at all. Packing plenty of nutritious, energy-boosting snacks is crucial to a hiking trip. Pack more than you need, whether you buy ready-made snacks or prepare your own at home. Running out of food during an emergency makes a bad situation even worse!

Sources of complex carbs like whole-grain crackers, pretzels, and sweet potato chips are perfect for hiking. They fuel your body and even help replace the electrolytes you lost during your sweaty trek. Don’t forget the protein! Nuts, seeds, puffed quinoa bars, and beef jerky are all packed with protein to help your muscles recover after a day of physical activity and give you the energy you need to finish your hike.

Dried fruit is another yummy way to get a quick burst of energy. It won’t get damaged in your bag like fresh fruit, but it’s still packed with fiber and calories to keep you going for hours. My favorites are pineapple, raisins, and apricots, but health food stores have dehydrated versions of nearly every fruit. Try this yummy mix of nuts, fruit, and chocolate from Moosejaw!

Fight Thirst With Lots of Water

Water is at the top of everything you need when hiking. Generally, pack between 2 and 4 liters of water per person for a summertime hike. That’s around 68 to 135 fluid ounces.

If you wear a heavy sweater or it is hot outside, bring even more to be safe. Though carrying all that liquid can feel heavy on your back, you’ll be thankful you have it after sweating for hours.

Metal water bottles are great for hiking because they are sturdy but can weigh you down. To lighten the load in your backpack, try a BPA-free plastic bottle. These are lightweight but won’t seep nasty chemicals into your drink. This Moosejaw bottle comes in many colors, won’t stain or get smelly, and can withstand temperatures.

Another great option is an easy-to-use water reservoir with a drinking tube. These extraordinary gadgets are something you need when going hiking for a long distance. They won’t leak or take up tons of room in your bag like bottles.

Plus, they let you drink hands-free! That means never having to stop and dig your water out of your pack . . . keep adventuring! Try this perfectly-sized water reservoir from Moosejaw!

You can pack water purification tablets if you run out of clean water. That way, you can drink whatever water is around you.

This is perfect for adventurous hikers exploring places off the typical trails. Even if you get lost, you won’t have to go thirsty!

girl drinking water
Credit: Manosainz via Pixabay

Don’t Forget The First-Aid Kit!

Boo-boos happen, especially if you’re kind of a klutz like me. You could be having a lovely hike and an ankle, suffering from a bee sting, or scraping your knees. That’s why I always have first-aid supplies, especially on outdoor excursions. While you don’t have to pack the entire huge box like they had at Girl Scout Camp, here are some essentials you need when going hiking.

  • Bandages (both stick-on and the wrap-around kind) and gauze
  • Sticky tape that can be used on skin
  • Tiny scissors
  • Pain relievers
  • Sterilizing wipes or ointment
  • Tweezers (for those pesky bee stingers and splinters)
  • An Epi-Pen if you have severe allergies
  • Cream or spray to relieve the itch and pain of insect stings and bites
  • Disposable gloves
  • Hydrocortisone cream

You might say, “Oh, I’m too cool for a first-aid kit.” Or maybe, “I’m going to a park with rangers so that they can help me.” While that may be true, it’s not the fastest way to get first aid.

If you fall and gash your knee wide open or get a sudden rash, you might not make it to the ranger station before things get serious. Always play it safe and have your stash of medical supplies. You’ll be happier, healthier, and more at ease!

Be Prepared With Emergency Helpers

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

Accidents happen! It’s a fact of life, no matter how well you plan and prepare. But obviously, no one wants to get trapped in the woods in an emergency. Luckily, packing smart can help you get through any number of mishaps!

A flashlight with extra batteries ensures you won’t get caught in the dark and can navigate even the spookiest caves. Flint and steel or matches ensure you can stay warm at night and keep unwelcome forest visitors away from your campsite. Sunscreen and SPF lip balm protect your skin from painful burns, which can also lead to faster dehydration (not good!).

Packing a knife or multi-tool can help solve all kinds of emergencies, from catching your bootlace in a bush to peeling potatoes for breakfast. Bring a whistle if you get lost or separated from your hiking buddies. A tarp ensures your tent won’t get soaked if nature decides to downpour overnight. And don’t forget quick-dry towels to get warm and dry again after a sudden rainstorm!

Need a one-stop shop for all the gear you need when going hiking? Check out Amazon to find everything on this list and more!

Stay On Course With Maps and a Compass

Two women reading maps
Credit: kristieamadio

As someone with absolutely no sense of direction, I can’t stress the importance of maps enough. A hiker’s worst nightmare is getting lost in the middle of nowhere with no way to call for help and limited supplies. Be prepared by packing maps and a compass on your next trek.

This is a fun way to test your navigational skills and unplug! Both are key because even if the map stumps you, you will at least know your direction, thanks to the compass. 

If you plan to hike in a more deserted area, you can even use a GPS (including the one built into your phone). Adventure seekers who like to explore the lesser-known parts of nature can benefit from having a GPS as a backup plan. Going off the beaten path can be fun, but ensure you’re prepared to get back on track before nightfall.

Remember That Every Trip Is Unique

Here’s the thing.

Though the items above apply to every nature excursion, what you need when hiking depends on your hike’s unique specifications. Are you going in winter or summer?

This will help determine if you must dress in cozy layers or wear sweat-wicking clothes. Are you hiking in rocky mountains or sandy deserts? It would be best to choose your boots based on the terrain you’ll trek on.

Figuring out the details of your trip can also influence how much and what types of things to pack. For example, if you’re sticking to a well-marked trail for a quick afternoon walk with your dog, you probably don’t need a fancy GPS tracker. On the other hand, if you’re roughing it, you probably want to pack more emergency items. It’s better to be prepared for the worst than not having something when needed!

If you’re a weirdo like me, packing is one of the most fun parts of any trip. Organizing helps solidify the fun in my head! But this list is critical if you’re not so into the planning part of your hiking trip. Just bookmark this post for later, so you never have to wonder what you need when going hiking.

Now that you have a packing list of everything you need when going hiking, it’s time to get going! Follow our tips, and you’ll have the awe-inspiring experience only nature can provide. When you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything or being uncomfortable, your hiking trip will be even more amazing!

Did we miss anything? What essentials do you always need when going hiking? Let us know in the comments below! 


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