Planning a hiking adventure and in doubt what to bring? Let us make it easy for you! We’re sharing our insiders’ tips on the what you should bring with you on your next hiking adventure. By upgrading your outdoor gear with these five products, you instantly take your hiking comfort, fun, and skills to the next level. No matter if you only hit the trail daily, or once a year, every hiker should add these essentials to their packing list.
Here are some recommendations of things you should take with you when you are planning your next hiking adventure!
1. Proper hiking clothing
You could settle for a regular cotton T-shirt, your favorite hoodie, and a pair of leggings: but when it comes to hiking, it’s a much better choice to upgrade to proper hiking apparel. When on the trail, you need clothing that is both breatheable, insulation, and flexible; keeping you comfy and dry, without restricting movement. The secret to a great hiking wardrobe is layering. Start with a base-layer, like a form-fitting shirt or vest made of breatheable and moisture-wicking material. Secondly, add mid-layers, such as jumpers or sweaters, again from breathable material. Thirdly, add an outer-layer, a.k.a. a jacket or windbreaker top.
When you get warm on the trail, simply remove an outer-layer or mid-layer. When you get cold, add an extra mid-layer. You can mix and match to your heart’s delight. Regarding the material of your base-layer and mid-layers: avoid cotton and synthetic materials that retain moisture. When cotton gets wet, either from sweat or rain, the fibers tend to soak up moisture and stay damp for a long time, which is neither comfortable nor hygienic. A much better alternative is fabrics and/or fibers that have natural moisture-wicking properties, such as wool or special quick-dry synthetics. For your outer-layer, choose a material that is windproof and/or waterproof. This should be your final defense against the elements, so pick a jacket that can keep you comfy and dry!
2. Proper hiking shoes
Equally important than choosing the right clothing, is picking the right type of footwear. Though a pair of sneakers may be adequate for easy hikes with paved paths, we’d always recommend upgrading to proper hiking shoes or boots. Wearing a pair of shoes specially designed for hiking and walking comes with multiple benefits. Firstly, hiking shoes and boots have a grippy, non-slip sole – which provides traction and keeps you keep your footing, even on slippery and/or wet undergrounds. When you’re hiking through challenging terrain with lots of elevation, mud, rocks, and other debris – having hiking boots with a deep lug-pattern and extra grip can truly be a lifesaver. Trust us: you don’t want to slide around on your regular trainers when navigating a particularly daunting cliff face (yes, we speak from experience, and yes, it was terrifying).
Another benefit of wearing proper hiking shoes is that these are designed to support your feet and prevent sprains. Many hiking boots feature built-in arch support, ankle support, and foam footbeds to help absorb impact. This adds drastically to your comfort level, and can even help prevent foot fatigue after a long hike. Just one thing: don’t forget to properly break-in any new hiking boots – as this helps them become supple and prevents chaffing and blisters. One more tip: if you plan to hike on icy terrain or snowy trails, upgrade your hiking boots with a pair of microspikes for hiking. These can be attached around the boot and provide instant traction and grip, which are both must-haves during any cold-weather or wintertime hiking adventure.
Unsure about what to look for? Check out my article on how to choose the right hiking boots for you!
3. Basic first-aid kit
No matter if you’re doing an easy day-hike, or a multi-day trail through the backcountry: you should always pack a basic first aid kit. Accidents can happen anytime, anywhere – which is we recommend prepping for emergencies and bringing essential medical supplies. The most common hiking injuries are cuts, bruises, scrapes, and sprains: so ensure your first aid kit contains the must-have to deal with these. We always bring a bunch of band-aids, medical tape, disinfectant wipes or spray, and gauge–just in case…
Of course, we hope you won’t have any use for it, but it’s best to be prepared regardless. Other essentials often found in first aid kits for hiking also include anti-itch creams (in case of mosquitos), antihistamines (in case of pollen/allergies), and regular painkillers like Paracetamol. If you’re hiking in cold conditions, consider adding a thermal emergency blanket to your kit – as this could prove a vital lifesaver when you’re struck down by injury.
Pack plenty of regular meals and water, but–at the same time–don’t forget to stock up on snacks. Trail snacks are an easy way to quickly top up your energy without having to sit down and get your knife and fork out. Though it’s tempting to simply throw some candy bars in your backpack, we’d recommend you avoid sugary snacks. While sugar provides an instant boost to your energy levels, this boost doesn’t last long and is rapidly followed by a dip in your blood sugar level. This can make you feel lethargic, tired, and moody, which may ruin your hiking experience. That is exactly why we prefer healthier snacks, which provide energy boosts for hours, not just 15 minutes. Our favorite trail snacks include bananas with peanut butter, trail mix/nuts, and raw veggies like cauliflower. Keep your snack supply within easy reach and cut into bite-sized portions. This enables you to savor your snack on-the-go, without slowing down your hiking progress. Perfect for when you need a quick pick-me-up and energy boost!
5. Multitool knife
Another hiking essential we never leave without is a multitool knife. This handy gadget contains multiple tools that can come in handy in a wide range of hiking situations. Multitool gadgets are super compact and lightweight, making them easily slot into any backpack–or even your trouser pocket. This accessory is available in dozens of variations: from 3-in-1 multitools with the fundamental necessities like a knife, screwdriver, and rope cutter – to 15-in-1 designs with lots of bonus tools like a can opener, pliers, and even an emergency whistle. Having a multitool knife close at hand during your hand means you’re prepped for all kinds of hiking situations, and challenges. Whether it’s emergency gear supplies, cutting kindling to build a campfire, opening food containers, and bottles: a multitool has got your basic needs covered. Plus, you can already find a great multitool knife for hiking at just $10–making this a budget-friendly gadget all hikers can afford.
What other recommendations would you add to your hiking list? Feel free to share in the comments!
Looking for some more information on hiking? Check out these articles:
- The Best Quick Tips for First-Time Hikers
- The Ultimate List of the Best Hikes in Glacier National Park
- The Ultimate Camping Gear List