Essential Hiking Gear for the Amateur and Professional

needed hiking gearHiking in nature may be the most delightful, healthy and stimulating activities anyone can do.

And, after purchasing necessary hiking gear, it doesn’t cost anything to take hiking adventures. Just pack up hiking gear in a backpack and escape the noise and stress of city life for a few days.

Camping, hiking and a reconnection to nature is necessary for almost everyone – especially those living and working in a high stress job or family situation. Nothing releases stress more than waking up to the smell of frying bacon and eggs in a seasoned iron skillet over a hot campfire. 

Absolute Essentials to Take On a Hike

Pack the following items in a framed backpack equipped with waterproof zippers and compression straps so that weight is evenly distributed throughout the backpack:

  • Compass/GPS
  • Map of hiking area
  • Sunscreen/hat to protect face from sunlight
  • Plastic rain cape with hood
  • Flashlight/batteries
  • Roll of toilet paper
  • Toiletry items (soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloth)
  • Lighter/matches (in waterproof containers)
  • Mosquito spray
  • Fire starter for emergency situations
  • Multi-tool device
  • Emergency tent/reflective blanket/tarp for shelter
  • Food & mess kit (dried noodles, soup and rice are lightweight, filling and take up little space in a backpack. Meat sealed in pouches, protein bars and powdered drink mixes are also satisfying and nutritional)
  • Cell phone (although cell phone service may be unavailable, they are useful for taking stunning nature pictures)

Non-cotton clothing is recommended for hikes in both cooler and warmer climates. Cotton tends to increase body heat by absorbing humidity and is not especially good for retaining warmth. Also, cotton clothing deteriorates faster than synthetic materials.

Water Supplies for Hiking

Canteens or Nalgene water bottles are highly recommended for carrying water on hiking trips. How much water a hiker will need depends on the length of their hike and climate, as well as the length of the trail and the experience level of the hiker. Warm, humid conditions require hikers to drink more water so they don’t become hydrated.

Hikers can also take advantage of natural water resources, such as running water and springs or other water source bubbling up from the ground. Additionally, hikers should never drink cloudy water unless they first purify it with iodine tablets.

Medical Supplies to Take on Hiking Trips

A roll of gauze, band-aids, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide and ibuprofen are necessities for any hiking trip. Other helpful medical items include eye drops, hand sanitizer, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medicine and hydrocortisone cream for insect stings.

Beyond Hiking Essentials

In addition to essential hiking gear, some hikers may want to pack a signaling mirror used to reflect sunlight up to rescue helicopters, lantern lights, extra pairs of socks and binoculars. For hikers who will be able to access radio stations, an emergency radio keeps them informed of news and weather without needing batteries. To power an emergency radio, hikers just turn the handle. They do this for several minutes until enough power is generated to run the radio.

Other items that can make a hiking adventure more enjoyable include safety pins, a small journal and pen and decongestant/allergy pills.

Hikers who want to eat cooked food at the end of the day should consider purchasing a lightweight alcohol stove. These stoves often fit into larger hiking backpacks.

The Importance of Carrying Personal Identification

Probably the most important item to pack in a hiking backpack is at least two types of personal identification. Whether it is a driver’s license, state-issued ID, university ID card, social security card or passport, hikers should always take something that readily identifies who they are in case of medical or accident emergency.

So go and have some fun and relaxing time while hiking. Just don’t forget the camping supplies and camping cookware!