Hiking Must Haves: 13 Things You Must Have Before Heading Out In the Wild

As fun and peaceful of an activity as hiking may be it can become difficult and nightmarish if you’re not prepared. You must be appropriately prepared to get out there and enjoy your hiking trip. The hiking must haves that you require are important to your success out on the trail.

It is not too hard to prepare your hiking equipment if you simply think about what you need. This listing includes a number of items that will help you navigate your way through any path while also keeping you safe and protected. Check carefully to see that you have the necessary pieces of hiking gear on hand.

A Sensible Backpack

To start, you need an appropriate backpack that is easy to carry around. There are many things you must consider when choosing a backpack:

  • Watch for how well it fits your body. There are different backpacks for men and women as well as options that fit people of certain sizes. Always choose whatever fits your body the best. See if you can test out backpacks before buying one.
  • Your backpack must also have a powerful inner frame. An internal frame backpack is a top-loaded choice that won’t restrict your mobility.
  • It also needs shoulder straps that are not only comfortable but also easy to adjust. Your shoulders will handle about a third of the weight in your backpack.
  • A hip belt should fit on your hips as you walk along. Since your hips will cover a majority of the weight in your backpack, you must have such a belt that secures the pack to your hips without bumping around while you walk.

backpacking backpack

Comfortable Hiking Boots

Your hiking boots need to be easy to wear and comfortable too. Even if it costs extra for you to get comfortable hiking boots, you should still spend more just to have something useful.

The options you can choose from including many great ideas:

  • Approach shoes are made with lighter fabrics and are typically cut below the ankle. These are ideal for lighter trails.
  • Cross hikers have a higher cut and are often made of thicker materials like leather. These are great for multi-day hikes.
  • Heavy boots feature tougher soles, toe caps, and synthetic linings to keep your feet dry. This is for rougher situations and for cases where you might get into wet conditions.
  • Mountaineering boots are for longer hikes and are especially perfect for cold and wet conditions. These feature harder plastic shells and often include pivot points at the ankles.

Consider the type of hike you will go on and look to see what boots are right for you.

The Right Sleeping Bag

You must choose a sleeping bag that will keep you comfortable and still be lightweight. A 40 degree down bag is made with a softer body with plenty of down fabric and fillings. This should also be useful for hot and cold conditions as it insulates well without keeping far too much heat inside.

sleeping in sleeping bags on the rocks

Anything that is flexible enough to handle most surfaces helps too. Of course, the base of your sleeping bag should be sturdy and thick enough to where it can conform to any surface. This is to give you a more comfortable sleep experience without bearing with rocks or other things.

A First Aid Kit Is Critical

You will need a first aid kit to protect yourself. The odds are you might experience cuts, bruises and other issues on the trail. You need to take care of such issues as soon as possible or else you might develop an infection or become ill in some other way.

First Aid Kit Contents

Your first aid kit should include the following things:

  • Adhesive bandages in multiple sizes
  • Antiseptic wipes; BZK or alcohol-based wipes work alike
  • Antibacterial ointment like bacitracin
  • Various gauze pads in many sizes
  • Antihistamine; this is to treat any possible allergic reactions
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Aspirin
  • Aloe vera gel

Everything in your first aid kit should be prepared in a secure container that keeps outside items from getting in. This is to protect the sterile materials inside your kit.

Pack a Water Purifier

You need plenty of water for your hiking trip. But what happens if you don’t have water?

You can always use a water purifier to help you out. While it is easy to find drinking water on your hiking trip, you must have a purifier to ensure that your water is clean.

sawyer water filter featred

A water purifier is different from a filtration device. While a water filter can strain out many forms of bacteria, a purifier will go one step beyond. It will use chemicals like iodine to kill off viruses that might be too small for a filter to control. Ultraviolet light may also be used in your purifier to kill off bacteria.

A purifier can work in one of a variety of ways:

  • It may be a pump-based model that forces water through the purifier and filter inside a container. You can pull water from a variety of sources with such a purifier. Still, the pressure and physical effort required for pumping can be tough to handle.
  • A gravity filter lets you fill a reservoir and then hang it in a spot where the pull of gravity will move water through. This is great for larger amounts of water but it can also take a while. You need a spot to hang it at as well.
  • An ultraviolet purifier uses UV light for a period of time to kill off viruses. You would have to stir the water in such a purifier so it can target everything. This will require batteries and may require several treatments if you’ve got lots of water to work with.

Of course, you could always consider boiling your water. When you boil water, you will kill off all the harmful compounds inside it. This works well provided that you boil your water for at least a minute.

Jetboil Flash cooking system

You must boil it for three minutes or longer if you are at least 6,500 feet above sea level. You would have to get a camping stove and plenty of power for it plus you’d have to let it cool off for a bit. This leads to the next item you should pack.

Don’t Forget the Food

Next, you need to make sure you get enough food on hand for your hiking trip. The foods you prepare for a hike must include many items that provide you with enough energy for your trip.

You can get about 2,500 to 4,000 calories of food in a typical day. About one to two pounds of food is needed. There are many foods that you can add into your hiking bag:

  • Dry foods will take up less space in your bag and can be prepared with water on a camping stove. Soup and drink mixes and even pasta are useful.
  • Foods that are sealed in vacuum pouches are great for taking up less space than a typical can of food. Many soups and canned meat products can be found in vacuum pouches. Tuna is especially popular in this case.
  • Dehydrated foods are items that have gotten all their moisture contents removed. This is to extend the lifespans of those foods. Apply water to your foods to rehydrate them if desired. You can always have them dry if desired. Dried fruits are popular but dried meats can be salted and seasoned to prepare jerky.
  • Powdered drink mixes are always worth having. While water can be important, you might get tired of just drinking the same thing over time. A powdered mix can be stirred into your water to create a nice flavor. Best of all, there is an extensive variety of great flavors for you to choose from.

ready backpacking food

Whatever you choose to take, gather foods that you know you will actually like. You don’t want to stress yourself out by trying to adjust your taste buds in the wild.

Bring a Knife

You will need a knife for a variety of needs. A knife will be useful when you have to cut rope or first aid items. It may also work for food preparation needs.

Your knife must be sharp enough but it always helps to have a separate sharpener on hand just to be safe.

bushcraft knife

Any multitool that comes with a knife may be useful as well. Such an item as this will come with a series of pieces like knife blades of different sizes, files and other key items may help.

A Camping Stove Helps

A camping stove is perfect for when you need to cook all sorts of things. A camping stove features a few burner tops that will heat up any pots or plates you have.

msr reactor

Such a stove will feature two burner tops although some larger models come with four of them. Also, many of them are powered by liquid propane. You just hook a propane canister onto the proper port and apply a match as it is on. The stove will generate the heat you require. Some models even let you adjust the temperature with a few knobs.

This is a useful tool but you must have enough propane ready for the task. Your propane canisters must also fit onto your stove properly.

Thermal Underwear Is Perfect If You Choose Right

Thermal underwear is a necessity to have when you’re out in cold conditions. You will wear this under the rest of your clothing. It fits well around your body and keeps the heat your body naturally generates intact. You will continue to stay warm with thermal underwear.

woman with hiking leggings on the snow

There are several things you need to find in your thermal underwear:

  • It must fit well around your body. It should not be loose or overly tight. Snug thermal underwear that is flexible is easy to have in any condition.
  • Check on the fabric you’ve got for your thermal underwear. Wool handles moisture quite well while silk is best for lighter situations. Cotton often retains your perspiration and may not be all that comfortable in wet conditions.
  • The weight of your fabric is measured based on how thick it is. Heavyweight thermal underwear is thicker than anything else and is best for snowy conditions.
  • Bacteria resistance is crucial in the event that you aren’t able to shower.
  • The loft refers to how the underwear keeps air in between its layers. Thermal underwear with good loft will keep your body heat intact while staying flexible.

Sun Protection For Any Season

You might assume that you only need sunscreen during the summer season. After all, it is the hottest time of the year. It’s a point where the sun is at its most intense.

sunscreen for hikers

But you will need sunscreen at any point in the year regardless of how hot or cold it may be. Even when it is freezing out, the sun will still project its harmful UV rays onto your skin. The SPF rating on your sunscreen is a clear measure of how effective it is. Anything with a higher number will work better for your skin.

You will have to apply it onto your skin regularly for the best results. In addition, lip balm is a necessity. Your lips can easily become dry. Applying protective lip balm will help to secure the moisture in your lips so they don’t dry out.

woman with sunglasses applying lip balm

Don’t forget to add sunglasses to your bag. A great pair of sunglasses will filter out UV rays without causing discoloration in your eyes. Anything that covers your eyes well enough will be effective. It can keep the wind from getting into your eyes.

Get Enough Rain Gear

There is always a chance that you will get into some rainy conditions during your hike. Therefore, you must have the right rain gear for your excursion. While a rain jacket is always useful, you need boots that can handle water (as mentioned earlier) plus soft and insulated pants that will keep water out.

Don’t just bring a poncho with you. A poncho can wear and won’t always keep your body insulated. Also, an umbrella clearly will not help you out while hiking. In addition to taking up too much space in your bag, it can also be tough to open up and hold onto. It may also break apart if you’re in windy conditions.

Hiking Poles Will Help You

Hiking poles are long rigid sticks that you will carry around on a trail. These will help you maintain your balance and grip on a variety of surfaces. These are also known as trekking poles.

hiker hiking with hiking poles

Hiking poles can be crucial on slippery surfaces. Such poles will stick into a surface and help you stay steady. In addition, these will keep your knees from feeling far too much pressure. Hiking poles will give you more control over how you are moving along a surface. They also absorb shocks as you move.

While it might sound easy to find hiking poles, there are a few things you must consider:

  • Hiking poles are often adjustable. They can be moved from 24 to 60 inches in length depending on the model you get.
  • Internal springs should be found in your poles. These absorb shocks as you move downhill. They may also give you an added grip when moving uphill.
  • The weight of your poles is also important. A pair can be about a pound in weight. Light poles require less pressure on your end when moving them.
  • Some models come with camera mounts. Such a mount is found under the handle. You can attach an action camera to it and use a pole as a monopod.
  • A lock is needed to keep the pole from collapsing or breaking apart as you use it. A push-button or outside lever can be used on your pole.

Stay Informed With a Weather Band Radio

A weather band radio will provide you with information on the weather conditions in your local area. This helps you plan your get up and routes for the next day on your trip. A weather radio will receive local signals that report on local weather information. It uses a very high frequency or VHF signal on an FM band.

solar weather radio

This is a standard used in the United States and Canada with the NOAA offering American support while Weatheradio Canada takes care of it up north. The signals are much greater than what a typical radio would gather. The frequency will report predominantly on weather reports with regular updates throughout the day.

A radio will also let you know about any weather emergency info like storm or tornado warnings. A wind-up radio is your best bet. This uses kinetic energy that is generated by a crank that powers up an internal battery. This keeps you from having to get an outside battery. The radio will keep on working no matter where you go.

Get hiking

Be sure to get everything for your hiking trip prepared before you head out. Take a look at the route you will take and how long your trip will be before packing. After you figure this out, check on the things you will require and get enough items that will last through your trip. This is to give you the best experience when hiking while also being comfortable.

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