Planning to do some hiking this summer? You’re going to want to check out our hiking checklist to make sure you’re bringing all the essentials you’ll need!
Heading to the hills on a day hike? Even if your hike is only a few miles long, you may be surprised by what you should take with you in order to avoid disaster!
Now, this may sound a little dramatic but a mountain trail hike can be precarious, even on the best of days. This is due to dramatic weather changes, a lack of cell phone signal, exposure to wildlife, and so much more.
Ensure your hike is both a comfortable and enjoyable one, whether it’s a single day or multi-day trek. Here is a hiking checklist with 10 essential items you should always take along with you…
Table of Contents
What To Expect From a Hike
Whenever you venture into the great outdoors, preparation is key. To some, it may sound like an overkill, but it’s the difference between an uncomfortable hike and one that’s truly memorable.
A hiker’s checklist is a great way to keep tabs on what you’ve packed because packing too much can be just as uncomfortable as packing too little.
The gear that you pack also depends on the type of hike you’ve planned, the terrain, weather conditions, time of year and the duration of your hike.
What’s most important to remember is that you should be prepared for a wide range of weather conditions and fluctuations in temperature during a hike. The higher you ascend, the more unpredictable weather conditions become.
For example, if your hike covers a major change in elevation, be prepared for a temperature change of 10 degrees or more. You should also be prepared for rain, wind, and possibly even snow depending on the time of year you intend to hike.
Essential Items to Add to Your Hiking Checklist
Here are 10 hiking essentials you’ll need for a hike you’d prefer to remember, rather than forget!
1. Hiking Footwear
Will your gym shoes make the cut on a trek through the mountains? No, they sure won’t. You need appropriate footwear when it comes to a mountainous trek due to the varying types of terrain you’ll cover.
This being said, if you’re venturing on a short day hike, trail shoes are perfect for the occasion. If you’re headed on a multi-day hike and carrying a heavier load on your back, hiking boots are ideal for added support.
Basically, your footwear is determined by the type of terrain you’ll be covering. For more gentle hikes on smooth, forest-type trails, trail runners are a good option. However, mountainous, rocky trails require decent ankle support in the form of proper hiking boots.
2. Layers and Rain Gear
As we mentioned above, the weather in mountainous regions can be pretty unpredictable. This is why it’s so important to dress in layers, preferably thin layers, and remember to avoid cotton materials.
It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast before you embark on your trek and dress for the occasion. Pack extra clothes in your backpack, even if it’s just a short day hike, as you never know when your rainjacket may fail you!
Consider how your clothes hold up against ultra-violet rays too and how much sun protection they really offer. Finally, always wear a hat!
3. Navigational Tools
In today’s modern world most hikers tend to carry a small GPS unit to help them navigate their way along hiking trails. But, sometimes, an old school map can really swoop in and save the day.
Many old school site maps are also demarcated with campsites, emergency exit points, and water stops for your reference. So, just to be safe, make to carry both a GPS and a map of the area.
4. A Decent-Sized Backpack
Obviously, you need a vessel in which to carry all of these essential items for your hike. This is where a decent-sized backpack is important. An oversized backpack is just downright uncomfortable and can cause weeks of latent back pain. A backpack that’s too small is just inconvenient.
Backpacks that hold between 11-20 liters are ideal for short day hikes. Go for a 20-35 liter backpack for a multi-day hike. Make sure your backpack is fitted with a rain cover so as to protect the contents inside during those unpredictable downpours!
5. Adequate Amounts of Drinking Water
This is extremely important, especially for a multi-day hike during the warmer summer months. You may underestimate how much hydration your body really needs during a hike, even if it isn’t that strenuous.
Always ensure you’ve packed enough drinking water, as well as a means of cleaning river water in order to drink it. Becoming dehydrated makes you all-the-more susceptible to heat stroke, hypothermia, and altitude sickness.
6. Safety Items
If there are three essential safety items that should be a standard part of your hiking gear, it’s a flashlight, whistle, and a lighter.
A flashlight is self-explanatory- it will help you move around camp after dark. A whistle is important for situations where you may lose the trail, your hiking buddies or simply become very lost. Use three short bursts of the whistle to signal that you’re in trouble.
Finally, a lighter is your source of fire and warmth. Matches are also useful – but completely ineffective if they’re wet!
7. Foods High in Energy
Energy is super important on any hike- whether it’s just a few hours, but most especially over a few days. Foods rich in energy will keep up your morale and endurance and makes a huge difference in how much you actually enjoy your trek.
Pack plenty of snacks such as energy bars, jerky, nuts, and dried fruit. Boiled eggs are a great source of protein and help to keep you fuller for longer.
8. A First Aid Kit
This goes without saying, but a first aid kit is 100% mandatory for any type of hike.
Make sure it’s packed with your personal medications, bandages, Band-Aids, disinfectant cream, suntan lotion, antibiotic cream, antihistamine tablets, and aspirin.
9. A Multi-Purpose Tool
A multi-purpose tool is a great hiking accessory at it can be used for a number of occasions. This includes preparing food, removing splinters, performing repairs on your gear, cutting up bandages, and more!
10. Sun Protection
Sun protection is extremely important, even if you’re hiking in the autumn or winter months. Sunburn from the reflection off of snow can be brutal, as can summer sunburn!
Make sure you’re prepared with a hat, a pair of reflective sunglasses and a high SPF sunscreen.
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