The Ultimate Hiking Checklist

The Ultimate Hiking Checklist


Hiking can be a fun activity that helps you reconnect with nature or just have fun with your friends. But before you go you need to be prepared. Check out this list of all you will need while hiking.

  1. Backpack

If there is one thing you absolutely need while hiking, it is a good backpack. A backpack is a lightweight bag that provides you with all the space you need to carry all your essentials. The best part is there are a variety of backpacks sizes available meaning you just have to choose what works best for you. When choosing a backpack, you should ensure that it has padded shoulder straps and a padded back panel, as well as adjustable and removable hip and chest straps. The chest and hip straps will help ease pressure from the shoulders preventing strain on your body. Also, make sure the backpack has a water-resistant exterior to ensure that the things inside it stay dry in case of rain.

  1. Footwear

Happy feet equal a happy hiker. This means that if you do not take care of your feet while hiking you will end up miserable. Hence, you need to ensure that you use hiking boots or shoes that are well broken in and comfortable for long distances. The terrain should also determine what kind of shoes you wear. On short or gentle, well-maintained trails, lightweight low cut hiking shoes or trail running shoes should be sufficient. But, for long hikes on rocky rugged trails, hiking boots offer more ankle support and additional protection from bites, scrapes, and water.

  1. Sun protection

If you are hiking during the day, even if it is a cloudy day, you should ensure that you have sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher with you always to avoid being sunburned. Even on a winter day, you should wear protection as a precaution. You should also note that as you go to higher altitudes your likelihood of getting sunburned increases. Include a wide brim hat in your list to protect areas such as your eyes, ears, face, and the back of your neck, which are prone to overexposure. Sunglasses are also a good idea to have as they protect your eyes from any sun damage or snow blindness.

  1. Clothing

First off, you should make sure that you check the forecast and dress according to the predicted weather conditions. But, considering that the weatherman is not always right it would be a smart decision to dress in layers. This allows you to easily adjust to changing weather and activity levels. Also, keep in mind how much protection your clothing offers against UV rays.

While picking your clothing, you should stick to moisture-wicking and quick-drying synthetic fabrics. Avoid cotton, which takes too long to dry and is poor at regulating body temperature. Remember to also pack a few extra insulating clothing like a hooded jacket as well as rain gear even if the weather is warm. Nature can be unpredictable and it is better to come prepared.

  1. Hydration

Water is more important than food. It helps keep your system running, it cools you down when it is hot and warms you up when it is cool. Thus, it is important you stay hydrated during your hike.

How much water you carry should be determined by many factors like your age, your body type, the intensity of your hike, and your sweat rate. Carrying at least two liters of water can be a good guiding point. If possible, you should carry a lightweight water filter and ensure that you find out where the water sources along your route are located. This will ensure that you have enough water even if you run out.

  1. Food

Ensure you carry enough calorie-dense food to fuel your entire hike. Each person usually has their preferences on the kind of foods they like during hikes. Snacks like energy bars, nuts, dried fruits, and jerky are always a good bet. They are lightweight enough that they will not add too much weight to your backpack. Carry an extra portion of food than what you may think you need just in case you end up staying out longer than you thought you would.

  1. Trekking poles

Trekking poles should become a must-have in every hiker’s checklist. Beginner hikers and people with knee injuries mostly use them as they reduce the impact of hiking on the knees. They are particularly useful when it comes to navigating difficult terrains, muddy trails, or fording rivers as they help in increasing stability. They can also be used as a makeshift tent pole when making a shelter.

  1. Illumination

As a hiker, you should always ensure that you have a headlight with you even if you do not plan to be out at night. You never know what can. An adjustable LED headlamp is the better choice as compared to a traditional incandescent bulb as it can last longer with a little charge. The lamp can also be used as a signaling tool if you get lost. Don’t forget to carry a pack of extra batteries.

  1. First Aid Kit

While hiking it is a wise choice to have a lightweight first aid kit with you since a lot of things can go wrong while out hiking. You should also be aware of how to use the supplies in the first aid kit. Remember to replace anything you use from your kit as soon as you get home.

  1. Navigation

Any hiking trip you go to, ensure that you are accompanied by a paper map and a compass that you know how to use and read. They are reliable, lightweight and you are sure they will never run out of batteries. Ensure that you keep your map in a waterproof case so that it stays dry and protected. Your phone and GPS can also prove useful tools of navigation while on your hike but they should never replace your trusty map and compass.

  1. Tools and Repair Kit

You should have a multi-tool or a knife with you during your hikes. They come in handy in several situations. Duct tape also needs to be on the list as its useful when you need to fix your gear.

Other items you might need:

  • Emergency shelter- In case you have to spend an unplanned night in nature.
  • Hand sanitizer and wet wipes- To ensure that you stay as clean as possible throughout the hike
  • Trowel- To assist you in making a temporary latrine.
  • Two copies of your hiking itinerary- One for yourself and one to give to a friend so they know where you may be in case anything goes wrong.

Hope this helps you to be better prepared for your next hiking trip.