Whether it is just a day hike, or something more adventurous, we’ve got you covered with this ultimate list of things to bring on a hike! It covers all the essentials you need to take with you when planning that escape into nature!
Whether you are going to hit a national park or just a short day hike, this packing list has you covered!
Quick overview of things to bring on a hike
Hiking Boots – the most essential part of any hike is ensuring your feet are comfortable and free from blisters!
Backpack – a comfortable and lightweight backpack is a must on any hiking trip.
Filter Bottle/Water Filter – help the environment by using a refillable bottle, and better yet choose one that has its own filter system!
Trekking Poles – especially useful for hillwalking and trips to the mountains.
Headlamp/Torch (flashlight) – it’s always better to be prepared, even if you don’t plan on walking after dark.
Travel Towel – a lightweight and compact travel towel is an excellent addition that can be used for drying off or as a handy blanket for sitting.
Waterproofs – lightweight waterproofs can keep you dry if the weather changes.
First Aid Kit – a basic first aid kit is one of the most important things to bring on a hike!
Swiss Army Knife – useful for a range of tasks from pulling out a splinter to making lunch!
Hand Sanitizer – keep clean and free of bugs on the road.
Mosquito Repellent – protect yourself from annoying insects when out in the wilds!
Sunscreen – protect your skin wherever you are!
Camera – capture those stunning scenes!
Additional Items – a few extras that might prove useful.
*Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links, which means should you click and purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Top things to bring on a hike
Useful for: not getting blisters
Probably the single most important thing to consider when packing for a hike is the right sort of footwear! A sturdy pair of hiking boots or shoes can make the difference between a great hike and a miserable one.
Personally, I have always used army boots, and currently have a pair of desert combat boots as they are a lot lighter, but still comfortable and offer good protection with ankle support.
Things to Bring on a Hike – A Backpack
Useful for: keeping everything together
A good backpack is an essential packing list item for any hiking trip. The size will depend on how long you will be hiking and how minimalistic you are. For a day-hike, a 20-litre day pack will be ample, but for longer backpacking adventures, you could go up to 50 litres and above.
Check out my guide to the best budget backpacks for a breakdown of what’s hot in 2021!
Filter Water Bottle
Useful for: being able to drink water that would otherwise make you sick
A good filter water bottle is an important piece of kit. It’s environmentally friendly as you can fill up almost anywhere and not have to rely on plastic bottles. LifeStraw make the best on the market and you can practically fill it up from a muddy puddle (though if there are other options, I’d recommend those first…).
Hiking (Trekking) Poles
Useful for: support, bushwhacking, defence
There seems to be a lot of controversy in hiking groups about the use of hiking (trekking) poles, though I don’t really understand why. I find one pole especially useful for hiking in the mountains and hill-walking.
In addition to the extra support a hiking pole gives you, it is also very useful for clearing paths of spider webs, vines and leaves. Finally, it can also double as a handy weapon to keep wild animals at a distance. Personally, I never go hiking without one!
Useful for: finding things at night
An invaluable piece of kit to stop you from fumbling around in the dark looking for something in your backpack (especially useful for hostels and night trains).
Useful for: hostels, swimming
A compact travel towel is an excellent piece of kit as they are fast-drying and pack very small. Great for hostelling and hiking where you might want to cool off in a river or lake!
Useful for: staying dry
A sudden downpour can happen at any time and it always pays to be prepared. Lightweight, breathable waterproof clothing should be on any hiking packing list to ensure you stay dry when it matters! At the very least, pack a rain jacket, but consider waterproof trousers too!
First Aid Kit
Useful for: blisters, cuts, sprains etc
A good travel first aid kit is always a useful item to have, especially if you plan hiking off the beaten path. A first aid kit is one of the most important things to bring on a hike!
Make sure your kit contains the following at the very least:
- Plasters of all sizes
- Hand sanitizer
- Disinfectant wipes
- Sticky tape
- Safety pins
I also add paracetamol, ibuprofen and antihistamines to my own kit. You can also add any medication you need to take, but be sure to check that they are legal in the countries you will be visiting (Uzbekistan is one country where common over-the-counter medicines may be illegal)!
Useful for: not bankrupting yourself if you fall ill
A good travel insurance policy is a must on any hiking trip! I’ve injured myself or got sick a few times while travelling and those hospital bills can soon add up! World Nomads specialize in hiking and backpacking trips and their prices for cover are some of the cheapest out there. Don’t let an emergency ruin your trip!
Swiss Army Knife
Useful for: cutting food, repairing things
One of my favourite things to bring on a hike is my trusty Swiss Army Knife. A useful tool to have anywhere, the Swiss Army Knife can be used to prepare food (be sure to wipe/disinfect after use), open bottles, remove splinters and do lots of other things besides.
Out of over 50 countries I’ve travelled to with a pen-knife, China is the only place where I’ve had them confiscated (twice!). Check the rules before you set off!
Useful for: cleaning your hands before eating
In these times of Covid it’s doubly important to keep yourself clean and disinfected. Many places now provide hand sanitizer, but there will be times on the road when you want to eat and will need to clean your hands.
Useful for: keeping the bugs away
Depending on the destination and time of year, it’s highly likely that on any hiking trip you will encounter mosquitos. If you will be travelling to places where malaria and other such diseases are present, then you will want a repellent containing DEET.
Useful for: not getting sunburned
Depending on where you plan to hike, sunscreen is another good item to have on your hiking packing list. Sun protection is important whether you are by the sea, on a trail in the mountains, or anywhere else!
Useful for: recording your trip
As far as cameras are concerned, DSLR’s are bulky and do take up space and weight (though I still travel with my Nikon D3400). There are many fantastic compact cameras on the market such as Nikon’s Coolpix range.
Other Useful Things to Bring on a Hike
Small Tissue Packets (toilet paper)
Hard Sweets (candies)
Dried Fruit and Nuts
Small Carabiners (useful for attaching things to your backpack)
I hope you have found this hiking packing list useful! If you are looking for some inspiration on hiking trips, you should check out my guides to China, Kazakhstan and Japan for some excellent hiking destinations!
About the author: Steve Rohan, originally from England, has lived in China for over six years. He has lived in the frozen city of Harbin, the ancient capital of Luoyang and now resides in the tropical paradise of Sanya on Hainan Island.
He has travelled extensively across Europe and Asia, mostly by train, and has written about his travels for this blog as well as self-publishing his first book, Siberian Odyssey.