Hiking 101 - The Essential Hiking Gear List

   Hiking 101 - The Essential Hiking Gear List  | Hiking doesn’t need to be overwhelming, but I am also a big fan of making sure I am ready for the worst case scenario. In this post I've created a comprehensive packing list for essential hiking gear. Refer to this list each time you hike and you will be prepared for almost anything! Post includes free gear list printable for easy reference. |  shedreamsofalpine.com

Hiking doesn’t need to be overwhelming, but I am also a big fan of making sure I am ready for the worst case scenario. Oftentimes, I am doing new day hikes on my own, or maybe it’s a new hike in unfamiliar territory. Either way, I always refer to my packing list to make sure I grabbed what I consider “essentials” for hiking. Some of these things are more important if the hike is new for you or is a longer distance day hike, and may not be necessary if it is a hike you are used to doing often or is shorter in distance. Use your best judgement, but refer to the list each time to get in a good habit of not forgetting something. If you’d like access to the list below in short form, you can download a printable list below.

Essential Hiking Gear Packing List

Screen shot 2018 01 14 at 9.18.46 am

Download the essential hiking gear packing list for easy reference next time you pack for a hike.

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Note: The list below may contain some affiliate links.

The below list is my own personal recommendations for essential gear for hiking. I can personally vouch for all the items listed, so please feel free to leave me a comment if you have any follow up questions.

essential hiking gear:


Day Pack

There are all kinds of small backpacks out there. Look around the market and see what works best for you. For day hiking, I usually like to make sure the bag is about 20-30 liters, has space for a Camelbak water bladder, has hip straps and chest straps. Recently I've been using a Dakine's Heli Pro 20L bag for day hikes, and Michael has been using the Thule Stir 20L hiking backpack.


Map

Whether I print out a map from online or I buy one on amazon for my specific trail, I always like to have a map of some sorts.  Depending on where you are hiking, many trails can have forks and split off in different directions, so it’s good to have something to ground yourself with. My favorite maps are the National Geographic Trail Illustrated Maps or the Tom Harrison Maps, if you can find one that includes your trail. I love this super detailed National Geographic Map of the John Muir Trail! I've used it so many times for different trails in the Sierras, including my recent backpacking trip from Tuolumne Meadows to Devil's Postpile, it had such great detail!


 GPS 

I am a data nerd, and you should be too! I know so many people don’t utilize GPS when they hike, but I consider it an essential piece of gear and there are many great options. My favorite GPS is the Garmin GPS 64st. It has definitely come in handy to help me navigate when I wasn't sure where I was. The first solo hike I did, it helped me navigate through a big tallus field back to the main trail when I got off route. I've even built my own GPX file on google earth and downloaded it to this GPS so my friend and I could follow a less traveled route called Bastards Ridge. For shorter hikes or hikes that I do often, I bring my Garmin Vivoactive HR Watch, but it’s not as capable as my other GPS because you can’t dig into it and track back your trail, so I only use it on trails I know very well. There are also some decent apps out there, such as Map My Hike, but I don't use them often since I have the Garmin GPS.


Compass

I’ll be honest, I have never had to use my compass before in an emergency situation, but I always bring one just in case. I consider this my 3rd line of defense in case I get lost for some reason. My favorite compass is, The Suunto A10 Field Compass. If you have never used a compass before, also consider getting a book on Wilderness Navigation to learn some techniques on navigating with a compass.


Sunscreen

This should be a no-brainer, but always wear and bring sunscreen for a hike. I really like Neutrogena brand. They even have a Zinc based sunscreen if you are looking for something more natural. 


Lip Balm

Just like sunscreen, it is also important to bring lip balm that has sunscreen in it on your hike. My favorite lip balm is the either the Joshua Tree brand.

   Hiking 101 - The Essential Hiking Gear List  | Hiking doesn’t need to be overwhelming, but I am also a big fan of making sure I am ready for the worst case scenario. In this post I've created a comprehensive packing list for essential hiking gear. Refer to this list each time you hike and you will be prepared for almost anything! Post includes free gear list printable for easy reference. |  shedreamsofalpine.com

Bug Spray or Bug Repellent Wipes

I don’t always bring this, unless I know there are going to be issues with bugs and mosquitos. In the Sierra Nevada, bugs can really be an issue during some of the Summer months, and this is when I tend to bring bug repellent wipes. It just sort of depends where and when you are hiking. If you have warmer weather, it’s always safe to just bring some of this just in case. I prefer the wipes for hiking and backpacking because it is lighter and easier to pack.


Sunglasses

Its sometimes easy to forget that our eyes need sun protection too. Always have a pair of sunglasses on hand. My favorite pair for day hikes are Goodr Sunglasses. I originally bought these glasses last year when I got into trail running. I couldn't find a pair of glasses that were comfortable and would stay on my face when I was running. These finally did the trick, and now I love wearing them hiking too! They come in a bunch of great color options and the best part... they are only $25! If you want something more classic Native Eyewear is also another good choice because they have a great lifetime warranty. 


Headlamp + Extra Batteries

You might be thinking, “Why do I need a headlamp for a day hike”? Well you hopefully won’t need it… but what if you get lost? What if something happens? I always pack my headlamp AND extra set of batteries. I pretty much don’t go anywhere without a headlamp. I have a Petzl headlamp, and it has been going strong for over 3 years now. It's always good to pack an extra set of batteries too whenever you hike or backpack. When you are using your headlamp over and over, you never know when they will need replaced. I keep an extra set of batteries in a ziplock next to my headlamp and grab both whenever I pack for a hike. Most headlamps I've used take Tripple A Batteries.


Utility knife

I don’t always bring a knife, but when I do, I bring my really lightweight knife, Trango Piranha Knife, that weighs almost nothing, but can cut through just about anything. I usually throw this into my pack wherever I go. You never know if you might need a knife in an emergency.


Small First Aid Kit

Another nice item to have is a small first aid kit to throw in your bag that has some basic first aid essentials in it, like the Lifeline Trail Light Day Hiker First Aid Kit. Better safe than sorry.


Light My Fire - Fire Starter

When I first started mountaineering, I was told to buy a light my fire fire starter, because if our jet boils stopped working, or we needed an emergency fire, this was the best tool out there because you don't have to worry about it getting wet, it can be used for up to 12,000 strikes, and it is super light weight. Its just another one of those small items I always bring with me.


Camelbak Water Reservoir

Camelbaks are awesome for hiking! They are the easiest way to stay hydrated, and I always bring one with me (unless it is really cold out because your camelbak water can freeze inside the hose). I recommend getting one that has at least a 3 liter reservoir, and the ones with a mouth piece cover are awesome too because when you set your backpack on the ground you don't have to worry about your mouth piece getting all dirty.


Nalgene

Ok cool, you have a Camelbak, but if your hike is long enough and water is important enough, potentially consider brining a Nalgene for backup as well. I've had friends who had their Camelbaks start leaking part way into a hike (although, it's never happened to me personally), so if my hike is long enough (over 5 miles), or if it is really hot out, I will usually pack an empty Nalgene as backup. Then, if a leak develops in my Camelbak, I can at least transfer water to the Nalgene and still be OK. 

   Hiking 101 - The Essential Hiking Gear List  | Hiking doesn’t need to be overwhelming, but I am also a big fan of making sure I am ready for the worst case scenario. In this post I've created a comprehensive packing list for essential hiking gear. Refer to this list each time you hike and you will be prepared for almost anything! Post includes free gear list printable for easy reference. |  shedreamsofalpine.com

Water Filter

I wouldn't say water filters are always necessary to pack for a day hike, but I do sometimes pack a small one if I am doing a really long day hike (12+ miles) or if I was potentially going somewhere really remote and where I haven't hiked before. There are two main water filters I recommend, and I own both. I like the Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter and I like the SteriPen. I use the Hiker Pro more often when I backpack, but when I want something small to bring with me on hikes I will throw the SteriPen in my pack. The SteriPen is a good option if you want something lightweight and quick to filter water with. It works nicely too for snow camping or mountaineering when you have to melt snow and there is nothing there to pump filter. We also found the SteriPen handy to carry with us when we traveled to South Africa for our Rock Climbing Trip last year. We weren't sure how the tap water was in the Rocklands, so we ended up using a SteriPen just for backup. 


Food and Snacks

Obvious, but always pack food and snacks. Pack what works for you. Some people like bars, some like sandwhiches, there no real rules. I like to pack cliff bars, complete cookies, and lara bars for quick snacks. Sometimes we will make a little quino and veggie lunch if its going to be a longer hike, or a pb&j sandwhich. It sort of depends on how much time we have to prepare in advance.

 


Spoon/Fork

Only needed if you packed something that requires one, but I always keep it on my list to remind myself, because I can't tell you how many times I've packed a quinoa or rice lunch and forgotten utensils. I end up eating with my hands! Don't be like me. I like these Light My Fire Sporks because you get a spoon and fork all in one. Your bases are covered.

 


Trekking Poles

I love the black diamond trail pro shock trekking poles. Michael and I both have these. They have a set for women (blue) and men (red). I've owned a pair of cheaper trekking poles in the past and they break fairly easily. These are almost indestructible. I've been using the same pair for almost 5 years now, and still going strong.


Toilet Paper or Biodegradable Wipes

Don't forget to grab a wad of toilet paper or a pack of wipes just in case nature calls while you're on your nature hike! I've been buying the ArcherOG Biodegradable Wipes recently and love them! I still pack out any wipes that I use, but I like to support buying products that are more sustainable in general.


Trowel

Nobody likes to talk about it, but to be a responsible outdoorsman/woman you need to bury your human waste. The Deuce of Spades Trowel is a fantastic lightweight option. When I went backpacking with my friends in Tuolumne a couple of months ago, all of my friend's trowel handles broke except for mine! Winning!


Camera

Don't forget to pack a camera or a phone to capture your hike! You can read our post on the Outdoor Adventure Photography Gear we use if you want details on the cameras we recommend for outdoor photography, but also you can't go wrong these days with your phone camera either. Your choice!


Rain Pack Cover or Trash Bag

For day hikes I don't worry about this too much unless there is some uncertainty in the forecast. You can get a little rain pack cover for you bag, or I used to use a trash bag for the longest time. Its cheap and does the job for a day hike!


permit

Printed out Permit

If your trail requires a permit, make sure to print it out or pick it up from the ranger station before your hike!

   Hiking 101 - The Essential Hiking Gear List  | Hiking doesn’t need to be overwhelming, but I am also a big fan of making sure I am ready for the worst case scenario. In this post I've created a comprehensive packing list for essential hiking gear. Refer to this list each time you hike and you will be prepared for almost anything! Post includes free gear list printable for easy reference. |  shedreamsofalpine.com

 Essential Clothing Layers to Consider:

Another important thing to consider when you go hiking is what to wear, or what to bring for emergencies. In short, think Layers.


Wool socks (2 pairs)

For a longer day hike (over 7 miles), I typically always bring 2 pairs of wool socks. I will wear one pair and I will pack the second. Why are socks important? Having dry feet is one of the key ways to prevent getting blisters on a hike. So if you are hiking and start noticing your feet are sweaty, take some time to swap your socks, and let the sweaty pair hang off of your pack to dry. I am a big fan of the Darn Tough Wool Socks, but you could also go for  Smart Wool Socks. I like them both.


First Upper Layer: Shirt, tank, light weight long sleeve

The first upper layer you wear should be lighter, depending on the weather. You could wear a t-shirt or tank top, but these days I like wearing a light weight long sleeve like Patagonias Lightweight Capilene Shirts. It helps to protect me from the sun and they are super breathable.


Second Upper Layer: a mid-layer of some sort, usually a light jacket

Whats the weather like for your hike? What is the overall low? Sometimes if hiking to a peak or summit, it can be even colder up top. Unless its a super warm place, its usually safe to pack a nice mid-layer light jacket. My go-to mid layer is my old purple Patagonia Nano Puff. I've had mine for about 8 year now, and it has a few rips in it, but it is still going strong!


Third Layer if going to be extra cold/for emergencies: a heavier down jacket

If the weather looks like it could be extra cold, or if you know the summit temps or night time temps might turn really cold, consider packing a heavier down jack. I'm not talking mountaineering down jacket, thats for another post, but I usually pack my thicker Patagonia Down Sweater Jacket. Ya ya, I am a big fan of Patagonia, but you know why? I buy their stuff once and it is great quality and lasts me for a long time! 


Rain Layer: light rain coat or poncho in case weather turns

If it looks like the weather might turn foul, it is also smart to pack a light rain coat or poncho for just in case. I usually pack my Patagonia Alpine Houdini Jacket because it is super light weight, wind and rain resistant. I bought one of the men alpine houdini jackets because I liked the colors better and it fits me just fine.

   Hiking 101 - The Essential Hiking Gear List  | Hiking doesn’t need to be overwhelming, but I am also a big fan of making sure I am ready for the worst case scenario. In this post I've created a comprehensive packing list for essential hiking gear. Refer to this list each time you hike and you will be prepared for almost anything! Post includes free gear list printable for easy reference. |  shedreamsofalpine.com

Pants: Light weight hiking Pants + Optional thermal under layer if it will be cold

As nerdy looking as they may seem, a nice light weight, breathable pair of hiking pants are awesome! I particularly love them when I am backpacking, but also sometimes wear them on day hikes. If it is cooler out, consider adding a thermal wool under layer as well.


carhartt-beanie

Beanie

Pack a beanie to keep your head warm if it is cold out! I love the Carhartt beanies, functional and inexpensive.


Hat

I also like to bring a hat with me on hikes to keep the sun out of my face, and usually my hair is a bit ridiculous from camping, so hats cover that up!


Gloves

If it is cold enough, consider brining some gloves with you!


Hiking Boots

Lastly, but certainly not least, make sure to have some good hiking boots for your tail. My favorite hiking boots so far have been my Ahnu Montora Hiking Boots. I've never had an issue with blisters and they are waterproof and light weight. These are my go-to hiking boots! Or if you are looking for a good wide toe box shoe, check out this review on wide toe box hiking shoes.


 

Again, if you’d like to download the above list for reference, you can get access to the download below:

Essential Hiking Gear Packing List

Screen shot 2018 01 14 at 9.18.46 am

Download the essential hiking gear packing list for easy reference next time you pack for a hike.

Powered by ConvertKit

 

Get into a habit of checking your gear list before you go out and then you'll never leave without the essential things you might need! 

I hope this was helpful, please leave me a note in the comments below if you have any questions!

Cheers,

Allison


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