Hiking Gear · The Essentials

How much you enjoy a hike can come down to how prepared you are for it. While you technically don’t need much to walk up a trail, having the right gear can make or break your experience. With that in mind, here’s a look at essential hiking gear for hikers of all skill levels.

Essential Hiking Gear
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Absolute Essentials: What Everyone Needs

There are some items everyone needs, regardless of hiking experience.

1. Water

Naturally, you’ll need water. Experts recommend drinking 1.6-2 litres of water daily, so take at least a litre and a half with you. You may also want some water purification tablets or a filter bottle if you’re in a more remote area.

2. Food

Depending on how long your hike is, you should also take some food with you. A few energy bars or some trail mix is a good idea. The longer your hike, the more food you should bring.

3. Sun Protection

Sunscreen, hats and other sun protection are other hiking essentials. Remember, UV radiation is stronger at higher elevations. You should reapply sunscreen every two hours to prevent burning or skin cancer risks.

4. Appropriate Clothing

You’ll also want to dress for the occasion. Light, breathable fabrics are best — so leave the denim at home. Remember to check the weather before heading out to know how warm you should dress and if you’ll need rain gear. And have additional layers with you just in case.

Essential Hiking Gear
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5. Good Hiking Shoes

Along the same lines, invest in a good pair of hiking shoes. These should be sturdy, comfortable and able to take a beating. Running shoes are okay for easy trails in warm weather, but you’ll want proper hiking boots for more rugged terrain. Waterproofing is a nice bonus, too.

6. Bug Spray

As you’ll be outdoors, you’ll probably also want to keep bugs away. Look for bug spray with DEET in it, as DEET blocks mosquitoes’ smell receptors so they can’t sense your skin. Long trousers and sleeves can also help prevent bug bites.

7. A First Aid Kit

Hopefully, you’ll never need a first aid kit, but it’s best to have one just in case. You don’t need to load your bag with medical equipment, but keep a few bandages and antisceptics with you. Pack more first aid for longer or more extreme hikes.

8. Knife or Multitool

The final essential piece of hiking gear is a good knife. You could also use a multitool like a Leatherman that has a knife on it. You don’t need anything huge or extreme. A lightweight but reliable pocket knife is enough for most hikers.

Essential Hiking Gear
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Gear for Beginner Hikers

While some hiking gear isn’t strictly necessary, it’s still nice to have if you’re serious about the hobby. Here are a few items to pack for your next trip.

1. Hiking Poles

A sturdy, lightweight trekking pole or two can offer some helpful support if you’re not used to hiking long distances. Advanced hikers often use these for more extreme hikes, too, so they’re a good long-term investment.

2. A Map

Beginners may be more likely to get lost, so an Ordnance Survey map is always a good idea, too. You can use your phone if you want, but paper maps are a bit safer. While 91% of the U.K. has 4G cell coverage, reception can still be spotty in nature.

3. An Outdoor Guide

Similarly, it’s hard to go wrong with a pocket guide on the outdoors. You can find plenty of guides on specific areas, wildlife or survival to help you through unfamiliar situations.

Gear for Advanced Hikers

Advanced hikers may not need as much gear for ordinary hikes. However, you may go on more extreme expeditions if you have experience, so these extras are good to carry.

1. Compass or GPS

Go beyond a simple map and bring a compass to help you find your way. A handheld GPS is even better, but these can get expensive. Make sure you know how to use this gear, too.

2. Emergency Shelter

An emergency tent, sleeping bag or tarp is also good to have in case you need to make shelter. These should be lightweight, waterproof and ideally brightly coloured to help you stand out to others.

3. Climbing Gear

Depending on the kind of trail you’re taking on, you may want some climbing gear. This may include rope, carabiners, crampons and a climbing harness. Be sure you understand carabiner strength and weight ratings to use them safely.

Get All the Gear You Need Before Setting Out

This list has all the hiking gear you need for any skill level. Use it as a checklist, pack your bag and set off on your next hiking adventure. You may find you don’t need some items or prefer a bit more of others, so don’t be afraid to play around with it, either.

Blog Author: Jane Marsh