Hiking Essentials List: Expert’s Advice on How to Prepare for Hiking

Hello there, if you are reading this article, then I believe you would agree with me that hiking is commonly described as trekking for long distances in the great out-door. That has not changed and may not be changing anytime soon.

What has changed however, or might be changing as time progresses, is how it has been done, where it is done, and what is usually required for going on such expeditions. The later has probably been the most progressive trend in the evolution of hiking.

So because in hiking, as it is in any other outdoor voyage, you are most likely going to face unanticipated and unsafe circumstances, it is therefore important for you to be adequately prepared. And since activities and environment are constantly changing, the safety requirements are also changing.

Apart from that, there is always the development of new scientific products as science improves on a daily basis. Therefore, in order to be quite prepared we ought to think and plan at least for your essential hiking gear.

Preparing for Hiking

As you are thinking about going for a hike, you should begin by preparing properly to tackle the common anticipated circumstances that you are likely to face in any outdoor activity. However, you should also prepare for those unanticipated and unsafe circumstances that could occur any day, anytime, while hiking.

Preparing for Hiking

Now this is dependent on some factors and sub factors. The factors that are most like to influence your preparation for a hiking expedition are: Destination, Environment, and Timing.

Your Destination

Your destination is key. This is because without knowledge of your destination, you are just another wanderer of the present age. You need to know your destination and also keep track of your walk. It is easier to note and track your destination using the tools you are conversant with, whether they be primitive or tacky, so long as they are can do the job, and you are very comfortable using such tools. They should be one that you are not afraid to loose after your expedition, but that you must guard all through your adventure.

See also: How to Hike the Appalachian Trail: A Beginner’s Guide for the Aspiring Thru-Hiker

Your destination will guide you on some of the required essential gears, essential edibles, and other necessary survival equipment and tools. So, your destination influences your preparation in a very unique way!

Your Environment

Your essential hiking gear perhaps mostly influenced by your environment. The weather, the time of the year, your geographical location, the location of your destination, the geography, the security reports, and all the other related sub-factors of the environment are huge influences that are likely to play on your preparation for a hike.

Hiking environment

It is only wise for you to consider these factors carefully while preparing for your trek. It is also important to see that timing interlinks with the two factors we have just discussed.

Your Timing

In every hiking expedition, your timing is an inevitable factor for consideration. Your timing influences not just your essential gears, but also the activities associated with the other factors, that is, your destination and your environment.

The time of the year, the time you are leaving your start location, the time you are expecting to get to certain landmarks, and also the time you are expected to arrive your end location. All these are primary elements to be considered as think about your next hiking.

Your Essential Hiking Items

The items you would need for your hiking expedition are very dependent on these factors; destination, environment and timing. Which are further influenced by their sub-factors. So, in this article, we would try to pick some impeccable items that you must always have with you, whenever you are going on an expedition of this sort.

Your Rucksack

Your rucksack or backpack is to die for! You should always try to have a sizable bag. Not one that is too small or too big as the case may be, but something that can comfortably hang on your shoulders and that can allow you to move at a very good speed without too much friction. For a different kind of gear, see our review of the best solar backpacks for your next camping trip.

Hiking Rucksack

It should also be able to contain almost all the items you are taking along with you, except in cases where the items are supposed to be in a separate bag. Either because they are too big or because you might just need them without getting to open up your rucksack. The next items to get are your navigation tools.

Your tools for Navigation

These are the tools that help you monitor and control your walk towards your destination and also to plan your adventure in advance. They include your maps, compasses and other modern electronic gadgets such as you handheld geographical positioning system or your mobile devices.

Your Map

This helps you visualize where exactly you are going and how you are going to get there, plan for some of the things you would need on your hiking adventure, what you should expect to see on your way, mark your rest points, and estimate your trek time and your arrival time.

It is advantageous to obtain a recent and updated map before you get on your way, if not though, still get a map. It is better to go on your adventure with a map, than to go topo-blind. For a basic hiking expedition, many cities now have trail maps.

Hiking Map and Compass

These are excellent to keep you on track, and they help you see significant trail features that you would have missed out without a trail map. Ensure that at all times, your map is safe. It is advisable to keep your map in a transparent plastic bag. This would protect it from wear and tear, and from harsh weather, such as rain. In other to enhance your experience, you might take with you a compass.

Your Compass

The compass is a great tool to direct your navigation. In today’s world some people think it is not necessary, because of the advancements in technology. But mind you, you don’t need battery life or solar energy to drive your compass. That is one of the greatest benefits of having one. It is always reliable and affordable.

In fact, the prices are dropping daily as the demand is not so much on the increase. Anyway, it is advisable to learn how to use your compass before your hiking expedition, and also to set it properly to and away from ‘true north’ depending on what is appropriate for your location. It is of no use, if it is just another tool that is required to be on your hiking list, even when you have no clues about using it. For tips on how to adjust the compass declination, do read our article on this topic.

Your Handheld GPS Gadgets

A handheld Geographical Position System [GPS] is a fantastic tool for explorers of this age. It is worth having because it is an idea tool for hiking and navigation generally. Although it requires battery life, the battery life for an average near recent unit can last for days. You can also store or map your trail, if you wish to go on the same route in the feature.

You can identify and indicate special features and locations on the trail as you progress. After the hike, you can transfer your coordinates onto another identical map and play around with the information you gather to create something memorable and special. See our review of the top personal locator for your safety on the trail.

Hiking gps

A GPS unit is no doubt a great tool, however, it has not taken the place of maps and compasses yet. It would not be able to tell you if you can climb up an elevation or climb down a slope, although it will point you in the right direction. Try to learn how to use your GPS unit though, it can be a daunting experience if you have not tried it out before go into the wild. You could get lost and thirsty.

Your Drinks for Hydration

Hydration is essential for the balanced performance of the human system. You need water, enough water for your journey. However, because water can be very heavy, if you carry too much, you may only go with enough quantity that can sustain you to an estimated distance, where you can possibly refill. For the top electrolyte supplement, check out our useful review on this.

A water that weighs 2 pounds, would give you about 1 quart or just about 1892.71 millilitres. So, you may want to go along with purifying tablets, or chemicals, or with the knowledge of making a DIY water filter. That is, if at any point on your route, you would be able refill from a natural source.

Hiking Drinks for Hydration

If you are going to trek up an altitude, hydration is very important, as without it, you may be prone to altitude sickness. If the temperature is high during your trek, hydration becomes very essential again, because you could be exposed to heat stroke or hypothermia.

Even if you are only going to travel on a straight plane, hydration is again vital for the stability and proper functionality of your body system. So, just take a sip every now and then. Do not wait until you feel very thirsty.

We have carefully mentioned water alone as your essential item for hydration. Not because there are no other drinks for hydrating your system, but because, it is important you stick to water, that way you can be sure of you are ingesting.

Your Edibles for Nutrition

Food for strength is an old secret of great champions. There are no hard or soft routes about discussing this essential hiking item. You need to eat in order to stay strong. Just as you need not wait until you are very thirsty, before you drink, you should also not wait until you are hungry before you grab a bite. See our review of the best hiking snacks that are proven nutritious and filling to give you more options.

Your body will be expending a lot of energy as you proceed, so little bites as move on will do your body good. Also take some extras, just in case you eventually stay out for more hours or days than you had earlier anticipated.

Hiking food

There are now lots of high energy compact foods in the market place. Take some time out, preferably days before your expedition to window-shop and go through the calories and energy content of these packed foods, then be sure to make your impeccable decision on what edible items you will be carrying along for your hiking, based on health concerns that will suit you and your lifestyle.

Your First Aid Kit

For an adequate first aid kit, it is advisable to put your kit together by yourself. Or at least ensure that you have cross checked it for all the essential items that should be in a standard first aid kit. However, you can only know this, if you have knowledge of the requirements of a standard kit.

Hiking First Aid Kit

It is advisable to take a short first aid course before going on a hike. In that way, you can be sure to put together the supplies necessary to first aid a minor or major injury. You can also have the knowledge to give a partner, or yourself a first aid if necessary.

You ought to have a kit that is useful, and must know how to use it. There is absolutely no point in having a great first aid kit, and then you have very little or no knowledge at all, on how to use it.

Your Survival Tools

As you put together your first aid kit, you will find yourself wanting to add some survival tools in your first aid kit. Be sure not to do that, else you’ll forget where you may have put them when you need them, or you will find yourself carrying double items. Take time to put together exactly what you need. Not forgetting items such as; a duct tape, a repair gear, whistle, strings, stove kit, and your knives.

Pack your Survival Tools

A duct tape and a knife or multi-knives kit, should be some unforgettable essential tools. The duct tape is so important because, depending on your hiking plan, it comes in handy in helping to fix many things.

It can be used to strap your packs, hold-on to a tent pole, temporarily close-up a leaky matrass, and even hold any of your essential hiking gear that is pulling apart until you get a replacement. While your knife can keep you busy and can even save your life during a camp or on the way. Ensure to sharpen your knife before you leave home.

Your Illumination Tools

It can get dark sometimes, even when it is day time. Especially, if you need to go through some shaded area. However, your illumination kit cannot be over emphasized for the night. You need a touch-light, a small battery replaceable lamp, some extra batteries, and things to make a fire such as matches, magnesium lighters or cigarette lighters. A fire can keep you warm, and can also save your batteries.

Your Shelter Tools

Having a tool or a couple for the purposes of sheltering you from the weather is always a plus. Whether you a spending a night outdoor or not. A Space Blanket or a fairly strong Tarp can prevent you of direct impact from the weather. It might just be that the weather reports had not forecasted a bad weather before you left home, and then an emergency storm hits you on the way. If you have either of the shelter tools with you, you can build yourself a shelter to protect you from the storm.

Hiking Shelter Tools

Other shelter tools that can be considered includes a Bivy Sack, a Reflective Blanket, or a Tent. Just make sure that whichever one you choose, you can set it up comfortably and very well, and that it is not too heavy to carry along.

Your Essential Gears

The key to feeling protected and comfy in your gear, is in getting the essential hiking gear right. Ensure that you try out your gears before you pack them, mainly to be double sure they are still your size, and also that they are in good shape. Do not forget to include; Your Head Gear, Sun Protection Gears, Regular and Protective Tops, Protective Pants, Outdoor Gloves, and Foot Gears.

Your Head Gear

This is an essential hiking gear that can be easily forgotten at home, especially when the weather looks good. But if you have prepared your essential gears following this article, then you may not be missing it. Your head gear should be a hat that sits comfortable on your head, not necessarily fashion informed but safety informed. One that can protect you either from cold or from other weather challenges.

Your Sun Protection Gears

These are your lip-balm, sun-screens, and sun-glasses. Some weather conditions can be precisely harsh on the human skin. So, it always best to stay safe, by using a lip-balm on your lips and sun-screen on the exposed parts of your body. You have got nothing to lose.

Hiking Sun Protection Gears

Your sunglasses are particularly very useful. They help you keep your pace, when the sun gets really bight. They prevent your eyes from squinting, and thereby preventing it from possible headaches that could result from squinting eyes.

Be sure to get good sunglasses, so that you do not experience false magnification and undesired concave or convex effects which can cause you to trip. Also make sure your lip-balm and sun-screens do not have perfumes. Else, you may attract bugs and field flies, which can be very irritating and discomforting.

Your Regular and Protective Tops

These include your tee-shirts, shirts, and jackets. Your regular top would be mostly influenced by the environment. For example, the weather plays a huge role in influencing your dress code at the start of your hike, but it is important to know that you cannot let yourself be fooled by the weather.

It is always advisable to take along extra layers of regular tops and also a waterproof insulation protective top as a jacket. This is because the weather is no respecter of persons nor forecast. It changes unexpectedly in a short period of time.

Your Protective Pants

There are pants that are suitable for hiking. Some trail hikers would just wear their jean pants and off they go, but that is not an essential hiking gear.

Hiking Protective Pants

So, when choosing your impeccable items. Your protective pants should be made of water resistant materials. If you can afford it, go for the durable water repellent (DWR) pants, with modern style adjustable waist for maximum comfort.

Your Outdoor Gloves

There are some waterproof thermal gloves that have been designed for extreme outdoor conditions. Those are the most suitable hand gear for your hiking. That is because you will feel safe inside them, they can protect your hands from scratching if you accidentally trip, and you can easily take out your hands to get some fresh air whenever you need to do so.

Your Foot Gear

These are most times referred to, as the most impeccable item a hiker should possess. Some hikers may argue, however, that your foot gear should be boots that have been categorically designed to be used for outdoor trekking, suitable to protect your feet, able to guard your ankles and rugged enough to withstand brute collisions with obstacles during outdoor walking events.

Hiking Foot Gear

That is absolutely correct. Yet, the most important reason for getting the right sets of boots is that it must be a good fit. That would mean a boot that has in front, a wiggling room for your toes, and the heels having a cosy fit.

Why It Is Important to Think Safety

Safe thinking is absolutely important each time you step out. That means you should be always be prepared with your Safety Kit, your essential hiking gears, and many other items that can make your adventure much more fun and safe.

Hiking safety gear

Other items to lookout for may include:

  • Plates,
  • Cups,
  • Toilet paper,
  • Outdoor journal with pencils,
  • Quick-dry towel,
  • Binoculars,
  • Bag for collecting trash,
  • Sanitation trowel,
  • Hand sanitizer,
  • Insect repellent.

Finally, choose rightly, and make sure you don’t do so in a hurry.


4 thoughts on “Hiking Essentials List: Expert’s Advice on How to Prepare for Hiking”

  1. My favorite foods for long distance hiking are nuts (almonds and walnuts), granola bars and dried fruits. They are tasty foods that hold up well for backpacking. I also like to bring banana sandwiches and those honey stingers chews, but it’s only good for the first day. Plus add some kind of electrolyte mix to my water.

  2. I make my own trail mix and I put a lot of seeds and nuts on my pack. I also love packing dried fruits on my trips, which is quite healthy. They’re easy to carry along and easily fill you up.

  3. We bought a ready-made first-aid kit but we realized we can customize it. By adding our stuff and removing some from the ready-made kit, it is now geared towards what we just need. I realized that it’s economical to build your own kit and it’s convenient to be familiar with everything that is inside it.

    • That’s correct Paul. You have to be familiar with what you put inside your first aid kit. That means keeping tab of the expiry date, too. DIY first aid kits can save you a lot of money and you get to pick what you need. Although for those who have no time in their hands to buy all those individual stuff, a standard pre-loaded kit is also ok.


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