What to Bring on a Hike: Essential Gear & Supplies for a Successful Outdoor Adventure

  • 7 min read
  • Jul 28, 2023

What to Bring on a Hike: Essential Gear & Supplies for a Successful Outdoor Adventure


Embarking on a hike is an exhilarating experience that allows you to connect with nature, discover breathtaking landscapes, & challenge yourself physically. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, it’s crucial to be well-prepared & equipped with the essential gear & supplies. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to bring on a hike to ensure a safe, enjoyable, & successful outdoor adventure.

The Must-Haves


One of the most important items to bring on a hike is a reliable backpack. Look for a backpack that is lightweight, durable, & has enough capacity to hold all your gear & supplies. Additionally, prioritize backpacks that have ergonomic padding & adjustable shoulder straps for optimal comfort & weight distribution. Brands like Osprey, Deuter, & Gregory offer a wide range of hiking backpacks designed for different preferences & needs.

Getting lost on a hike can quickly turn an adventure into a dangerous situation. That’s why it’s essential to bring navigation tools such as a map, compass, & GPS device. Familiarize yourself with the trail map before hitting the trail & carry a compass to ensure you’re heading in the right direction. Additionally, consider investing in a GPS device that provides accurate positioning data & can assist you in emergency situations. Apps like AllTrails & Gaia GPS are also valuable resources to have on your smartphone.

Hydration System

Staying hydrated during a hike is vital for your overall well-being & performance. Invest in a reliable hydration system, such as a hydration bladder or water bottles, that allows you to drink water without stopping or removing your backpack. Hydration bladders like the popular CamelBak are convenient as they can be easily integrated into backpacks & provide hands-free hydration. Don’t forget to bring a water filter or purification tablets to treat water from natural sources.

Proper Footwear

Your feet are your most essential tool during a hike, so it’s crucial to invest in proper footwear. Opt for hiking boots or shoes that offer adequate ankle support, traction, & protection against rocky terrains. Make sure to break in your footwear before embarking on a long hike to avoid painful blisters & discomfort. Brands like Merrell, Salomon, & Vasque offer a wide range of hiking footwear suitable for different types of terrain & weather conditions.

Clothing Layers

Weather conditions can change quickly during a hike, so it’s important to bring clothing layers that allow you to adapt to different temperatures. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to keep you dry & comfortable. Layer up with insulating mid-layers like fleeces or down jackets to provide warmth in colder conditions. Additionally, don’t forget to pack a waterproof & breathable outer layer, such as a rain jacket, in case of unexpected rain or wind. Invest in high-quality outdoor clothing brands like Patagonia, The North Face, & Arc’teryx for optimal performance & durability.

First Aid Kit

Accidents & injuries can happen during a hike, so it’s crucial to carry a well-stocked first aid kit. Your kit should include basic supplies such as bandages, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, & blister treatment. Additionally, consider including any necessary personal medications, such as epinephrine pens for allergies or asthma inhalers. Familiarize yourself with basic first aid procedures & take a wilderness first aid course if you frequently engage in remote hiking.

Headlamp or Flashlight

Even if you’re planning a day hike, it’s wise to bring a headlamp or flashlight as part of your hiking essentials. In case you encounter delays or unexpected situations that prolong your hike, having a reliable light source will help you navigate safely in the dark. Look for lightweight & compact options with long battery life. Don’t forget to pack extra batteries or ensure your headlamp or flashlight is rechargeable to avoid any inconvenience.

Food & Snacks

Keeping your energy levels up is crucial during a hike, so pack an assortment of nutritious & lightweight snacks. Opt for trail mix, energy bars, jerky, dried fruits, & nuts that provide a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, & fats. Consider any dietary restrictions or preferences when selecting your food items. It’s also important to bring a hearty lunch or meal for longer hikes to replenish your energy. Don’t forget to pack utensils & food storage containers to enjoy your meal comfortably.

Sun Protection

Spending prolonged periods under the sun without protection can lead to sunburns, dehydration, & increased risk of skin cancer. To protect yourself, bring essential sun protection items such as a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses with UV protection, & sunscreen with a high SPF. Apply sunscreen generously on all exposed skin, reapplying every few hours. You can choose sunscreens that are specifically designed for outdoor activities & offer water resistance.

Emergency Shelter

While it’s essential to plan your hike properly, emergencies can occur unexpectedly. Having a lightweight & compact emergency shelter, such as a bivvy or emergency blanket, increases your chances of survival in case of unforeseen circumstances. These shelters provide protection from extreme weather conditions & help maintain body heat. Don’t underestimate the importance of this item, even on short day hikes.

Trekking Poles

Trekking poles can significantly improve your hiking experience by providing stability, reducing strain on your joints, & helping with balance on challenging terrains. Consider bringing trekking poles if you’re planning a hike with significant elevation changes or rugged trails. Adjustable poles are a popular choice as they allow you to adapt the length according to the terrain & personal preference. Brands like Black Diamond, Leki, & REI offer a wide variety of trekking pole options.

Insect Repellent

Protecting yourself from pesky insects & potential diseases they may carry is crucial during outdoor activities. Pack an effective insect repellent containing ingredients like DEET or picaridin to ward off mosquitos, ticks, & other biting insects. Apply the repellent according to the instructions & target exposed areas such as ankles, wrists, & neck. Additionally, wear long-sleeved shirts & long pants to provide an extra layer of protection.

Repair Kit & Multi-Tool

Being prepared for gear malfunctions or unexpected repairs during a hike is essential. Pack a repair kit containing items such as duct tape, zip ties, repair patches for tents or sleeping pads, & a sewing kit. A multi-tool, such as a Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman, is also invaluable for various tasks like cutting, screwing, & opening cans. Ensure your repair kit & multi-tool are lightweight & easily accessible.

Portable Charger/Power Bank

In this digital age, many hikers rely on their smartphones for navigation, taking photos, & communication. However, long hikes can quickly drain your phone’s battery. To ensure you have a reliable power source, bring a portable charger or power bank. Look for lightweight options with high-capacity batteries to keep your devices charged throughout your hike. Some power banks even come equipped with solar panels for added convenience & sustainability.


A whistle is a simple yet effective tool for attracting attention & signaling for help in case of an emergency. It’s lightweight, compact, & can be easily attached to your backpack or clothing. A whistle’s sound carries farther than your voice & can be heard even in challenging terrain or adverse weather conditions. Carry a whistle with you on every hike & teach yourself the appropriate distress signals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How much water should I bring on a hike?

A: It’s recommended to bring at least 2 liters of water per person for a full-day hike. Adjust the amount according to weather conditions, intensity of the hike, & water sources available on the trail.

Q: Are hiking boots necessary or can I hike in sneakers?

A: While hiking in sneakers is possible on well-maintained & easy trails, hiking boots provide better ankle support, traction, & protection. Invest in hiking boots if you plan to tackle more challenging terrains or longer hikes.

Q: Do I need a permit for hiking?

A: Some hiking trails & national parks require permits, especially for overnight or multi-day hikes. Research the specific regulations & obtain the necessary permits before embarking on your hike to avoid any legal issues.

Q: Can I bring my dog on a hike?

A: Many hiking trails allow dogs, but it’s essential to check the specific trail regulations & guidelines. Keep your dog leashed, clean up after them, & ensure they are well-behaved to minimize any negative impact on the environment & other hikers.

Q: Should I bring a tent on a day hike?

A: For most day hikes, a tent is unnecessary. However, if you’re embarking on a long day hike or overnight hike, carrying a lightweight & compact tent may be necessary for emergencies or unexpected situations that require overnight stay.

Q: Can I use my smartphone as a GPS device?

A: Yes, smartphones can be used as GPS devices with the help of navigation apps like AllTrails or Gaia GPS. However, keep in mind that relying solely on your smartphone may drain your battery quickly, so it’s wise to have a secondary navigation tool or bring a portable charger.

Q: Are there any hiking gear rental options available?

A: In many outdoor recreation areas, gear rental shops or services are available, allowing you to rent hiking gear instead of purchasing it outright. This option is great for beginners who may not want to invest in expensive gear initially.

Q: How can I prevent blisters during a hike?

A: To prevent blisters, wear properly fitted hiking socks & boots. Additionally, consider applying moleskin or blister prevention tape to high-friction areas of your feet before hiking. Take regular breaks to air out your feet & change into dry socks if necessary.

Q: What should I do if I encounter wildlife on the trail?

A: If you encounter wildlife during a hike, maintain a safe distance, & avoid approaching or feeding them. Respect their habitat & observe them from a distance using binoculars or a zoom lens on your camera. If you encounter potentially dangerous wildlife, like bears or mountain lions, familiarize yourself with proper safety protocols for your specific hiking area.

Q: How can I stay safe during a hike?

A: To stay safe during a hike, always inform someone about your hiking plans & expected return time. Stay on marked trails, follow all safety guidelines, & be aware of your surroundings. Stay hydrated, well-nourished, & properly equipped with essential gear. If you’re hiking alone, consider carrying a personal locator beacon (PLB) or an emergency satellite communication device for extra safety.


Embarking on a hike can be an extraordinary adventure full of scenic beauty & personal accomplishments. By preparing & bringing the necessary gear & supplies, you can make the most of your hiking experience while ensuring your safety & well-being. From a reliable backpack & navigation tools to proper footwear & clothing layers, the items discussed in this guide are essential for any hiking excursion. Remember to plan your hike carefully, familiarize yourself with the trail, & always prioritize safety. So, pack your bags, put on your hiking boots, & embark on an unforgettable journey into the great outdoors!

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