Wide Open Roads
Open Search form

10 Hiking Essentials Everyone Needs, From Beginners to Experts

Hiker walks along a log.

From day hikes to epic backpacking adventures, there are a handful of hiking essentials every outdoor enthusiast should consider bringing with them on the trail. While fancy items like GPS devices, trekking poles, and other high-end swag might seem appealing, this essentials list covers some basics you’ll be glad you brought at the end of the day.

Whether you’re doing some simple day hiking in a local National Park, or tackling serious backcountry backpacking trails, you should definitely consider stuffing these your daypack with these ten essential hiking gear staples.

10 Hiking Essentials

1. Good Hiking Boots

Or hiking shoes. Whatever’s most comfortable and appropriate for your trek. But either way, if you’re serious about enjoying rigorous outdoor excursions, you should definitely invest in some dedicated footwear. If you’re not sure what’s best for you, do some research and/or ask relevant authorities like REI employees… then buy the shoes on Amazon, where they’re cheaper. One last pro tip: Make sure to break in new hiking boots and shoes with a series of daily walks before hitting the trail.

2. Water Bottle

Of all the things that will affect a hiking trip, don’t neglect personal hydration. There’s no guarantee there will be a water source wherever you’re going, and next to oxygen, water is the number one thing you need to be well. For those who want extra water without all the weight, consider packing a serious pump with a purifying water filter to enjoy nature’s best and freshest.

3. Snacks

Don’t just bring food on your hiking trip, bring extra food. To keep it light, stick to dense yet nourishing treats like jerky, power bars, dried fruit, trail mix, candy, and other tried and true outdoor goodies.

4. First Aid Kit

RELATED: 12 Items Every Camping First Aid Kit Should Have

Even with the right hiking boots and socks, hikers are going to get blisters, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to all the usual first-aid supplies that come in standard store-bought kits, consider packing additional items like lip balm, hydrocortisone creams, and allergy medicine.

5. Sunscreen

The best medicine is preventative in nature, and sunburn is exactly the sort of ailment you want to avoid. As such, be sure to bring sun protection with a sufficient SPF on all of your hikes and campouts. Better safe than sorry!

6. Insect Repellent

Although insects aren’t as bad as the sun, they can get very annoying very fast. At best they’re an unnecessary nuisance, at worst, you’re scratching open sores and risking infections. Do yourself a favor and bring insect repellent when hiking.

7. Extra Clothes

In addition to your obvious base layers, you’ll want to bring extra layers for expected and unforeseen changes in temperature. Days that start with cold weather can quickly become warm and vice versa, depending on a range of elements. The best clothes for layering include items like long-sleeve tops made from moisture-wicking fabrics, ultralight rain jackets, and multipurpose gaiters.

8. Multi-tool

This goes for everyday life as well. You always need a multi-tool or pocket knife the moment you don’t have one. Just so, make sure to bring one with you on the trail. If nothing else, you can whittle a stick while you catch your breath.

9. Headlamp

I don’t care if you say you’ll get home before dark: bring a light source of some kind. The shine of your cell phone is only going to cut it for so long if you’re still on the trail when night falls. And while you’re at it, consider a headlamp so you can keep your hands free to drink water, look at maps, or perform first aid. As ever, be sure to bring extra batteries. Pro tip: If you find the thought of getting lost after dark truly frightening, consider packing other survival essentials like a space blanket, an emergency shelter, and/or a personal locator beacon. They should help you sleep easier at night. Outdoors. When you’re lost…

10. Toilet paper

With any luck, you won’t have to pop a squat outdoors. However, just as the outdoor beckons, so does nature, and it’s better to be prepared when that happens. Believe us, we know from experience.

Bonus Item: Trash Bags

?As you may or may not know, the out door code is “Leave no trace.” This being the case, make sure to pack out garbage like snack and bandage wrappers, and ? like it or not ? used toilet paper! To keep things sanitary, just bring a dedicated trash bag or two.

?Did we miss anything you always bring hiking? Let us know your tips and tricks on our Wide Open Road Facebook!

READ MORE: The Hiking Merit Badge: Requirements You’ll Love Fulfilling