July 25, 2022

If you love hiking, or really any outdoor activity where the idea is to get away from just about everything for a few hours or a lot longer, the most important idea is to stay safe. If you’re experienced, you probably already have the essential gear down. Maybe you’re newer or just want a basic checklist, here are the more important essentials every hiker should have, even if the trip is a short, easy one. Hiking, even if you’re not testing the most extreme survival limits, is a great way to exercise, spend time with family and friends and get away from everything.

Here are some basic essentials and stuff you might bring, but might cause more trouble than it’s worth, on a hike.

  • Water – Bring a minimum of one liter of water on any type of hike. You’ll need more, or the ability to make more clean, drinkable water, for anything longer than a few hours. If you are going to be out longer, you need bring more water, or a water purification system and know there will be a water source on your route.
  • Food – Regardless of the length of the hike, it’s valuable and easy to pack emergency durable food such as energy bars and dry nuts. Think about food which is high-calorie, but healthy. Also think, easy to carry and keeps dependably in a backpack and potentially hot, cold or wet weather. It is additionally important to bring some added food in case you wind up hiking longer than expected.
  • First-aid Kit – A pre-packaged hiking first-aid kit from any outdoor store or one you put together yourself is a must on any type of outdoor expedition. At a bare minimum, make sure to have a kit of tape, bandages and wound care. The size of this kit will vary based on the degree of threat and distance from help on the trip.
  • Layers of Clothing – Even if the forecast is sunny and perfect, it is necessary to carry some protection for unanticipated weather changes. At a minimum, you must have a light, waterproof jacket. It’s a good idea to have another layer for cooler and/or wet weather in case you need it.
  • Sun Safety – Long exposure to sunlight has long-term health effects and can be a danger to a hike right away, especially if you’re braving a high-UV summer day anywhere in the Carolinas. You want to avoid a burn before it happens. Good essentials are a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.

More Valuable Essentials


You’ll want a sturdy, safe way to carry and protect what you need. A backpack with a hip belt is excellent. It permits the solid bones of your pelvis to support the pack’s weight, alleviating the weight from on your shoulders. For added convenience, seek a backpack with cushioned, ergonomic straps.

Strong Boots or Shoes

Specifically for hiking or outdoor sports of any type or exertion, you’ll want footwear or boots that fit you well. Foot pain or injury partway into a hike will be awful for you and anyone who has to help you. Hiking boots with tough soles are best for tough terrain. More common running shoes are fine, maybe even the better choice, for easier paths. Keep an eye out for locations that may cause sores, and always break your shoes in with a number of short hikes or walks before depending on them for a long one.

Proper Clothing

Think about clothing that fits the current and potential weather conditions. Light-weight, breathable materials like cotton and linen are excellent for warm weather condition. Synthetics made for sports are best for wicking moisture and remaining dry. Know the weather forecast before you go, and keep in mind how quickly conditions can change in the area you’re going. Know and prep for the forecast, but also what could happen with the region, weather and if your hike takes longer than you plan.

Simple Emergency Essentials

An emergency whistle is little, light and effective at any time you’re within earshot of others. With any luck you’ll never need it, however if the unexpected does occur, it could be vitally important you brought the whistle along. Standard first aid supplies are appropriate, as well. It will turn out very helpful to care for a scrape or cut.

What Not to Bring

Heavy Camera Lenses

It’s certainly understandable if you want to take pictures. Think about what’s practical, and won’t make the hike a lot harder, or cause an expensive accident.

Unless you are an expert digital photographer, or going out with pro-caliber, top-notch photography as the primary point of the trip, think of all the photos a cellphone, point and shoot can take. One step up is a DSLR camera. It’s very specific and rare to need a huge and heavy high-zoom lens.

Big Towels

Big, bulky towels are great in your home. Carrying full towels in a pack just doesn’t make much sense on a hike. It will take up a ton of space which would be better for other necessities. Once it gets wet, it’s surprising how heavy it will become, and it’ll get everything else in the pack wet. Either that, or a big, heavy towel takes forever to dry.

Instead, take a small swimmers towel, it is extremely absorbent, or a microfiber traveling towel. These do not take much space, dry quicker and get the job done for what you’ll need.

Jewelry and Valuables

These are unnecessary things to bring on a hike. Not only is it not essential you’re just adding the risk of losing your jewelry or valuables.

Cotton Clothes

When you think of cotton clothing or towels what do you think of? Large, fluffy stuff, right? Cotton items take up more space and they take longer to dry when wet.


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