The 10 Essential Gear Items for Hiking and Backpacking

The 10 Essential Gear Items for Hiking and Backpacking

Hiking and backpacking are great ways to enjoy the outdoors, but you have to be prepared. Pack the wrong gear, and it can turn your trip into a miserable one. If you are familiar with hiking some of these items will seem obvious but for those just starting out as new day hiker or backpacker we've compiled a list of the ten essential items for hiking and backpacking:


Navigation is the art of finding your way from point A to point B. It can be as simple as following a trail, or it can require you to use your compass and map for navigation through unfamiliar territory.

You’ll need some sort of navigation gear whether you’re hiking on established trails or bushwhacking through the wilderness. Navigation can come in the form of a paper map and compass, a GPS device, or even many of the navigational apps available on smartphones (just make sure you have plenty of battery and download the offline maps before you go)  Know about where you are heading before you leave because you might not have time for mistakes in this department, so make sure you have all the right gear before you head out on your next adventure!



A headlamp is an essential piece of gear for hiking and backpacking trips. Before you go out on your first night hike with only your headlamp to light the way, however, there are some things you need to know about how they work and how to choose one.

First and foremost, before you head out make sure your headlamp is fully charged and has fresh batteries. You might think you are going to finish your hike in the daylight but often times the sun can dip behind the mountains faster than you expect and you don’t want to be left navigating a trail in the dark without a way to light your way. 

Sun Protection

Sunscreen, hats, sun hoodies, and more sunscreen are the way to go.  In the exposed alpine areas, deserts, and exposed trail having good sun protection is a must.  Without good sun protection you can find yourself dehydrating quicker and in extreme cases exposing yourself to the risk of sun stroke.


Knives are essential for survival. They can be used for everything from cutting rope to gutting fish, and it’s important that you have one on your hike or backpacking trip.

If you plan on camping or hiking in the wilderness, there are three types of knives that you should bring with you: a pocket knife, a fixed blade knife and an assisted opening knife (or “assisted-opening”). Each of these knives has its own set of pros and cons—the choice is yours!

Pocket knives are often small enough to fit inside your pocket or purse without much notice; however, they tend not to be very durable since they don't have any kind of sheath. Fixed blades are stronger than pocket knives but are typically harder to conceal because they require more space – either in your pack or somewhere else like your belt loop. Assisted-opening knives provide users with the best of both worlds; their size allows them to be carried easily everywhere while still being sturdy enough for heavy duty tasks such as wood chopping!

First aid kit + medical supplies

First aid kits come in all shapes, sizes and prices. Some are small enough to fit in your pocket while others are bulky enough to be carried on the outside of your backpack. Regardless of what size you choose, it should have some key items:

  • Bandages
  • Antiseptic wipes/gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape (make sure it's waterproof)
  • Safety pins (for clothing repairs)
  • Personal medication (such as ibuprofen or Benadryl)


Extra Water + Filter

  • Water is essential. When you're hiking, you will sweat and lose fluid through your pores. You need to replenish that fluid with water.
  • It's important for your body to have enough water, but it's heavy. A liter of bottled water weighs about 2 pounds (1 kilogram), which means that you can carry just over 2 liters by carrying 1liter bottles or half-liter bottles of water in your backpack. If you want more than this amount of water at any given time—for example, if your group is traveling together on a long hike— someone may want to carry a dedicated water filtration system
  • Filtration systems come in all shapes and sizes. From purifiers, to water tablets making sure you have a way to obtain clean water on your hike is important. 


Fire: There are many ways to start a fire, but your best bet is to use either a lighter or matches. If you're carrying both, make sure they're both waterproof. You'll also want some fire starter on hand, in case things don't go as planned—this could be in the form of fire starter sticks, cubes, or tinder.


Shelter is one of the most important things you can carry on a backpacking trip. A tent, hammock, bivvy bag and tarp are all options for shelter.

If you are just starting out hiking with your significant other or partner in crime, then a two person tent will be plenty big enough for you both to share. If one person wants to sleep outside of the tent but still keep have shelter from potential weather a tarp could be an excellent choice. We recommend having an actual sleeping pad under you while using your sleeping bag as well as some warm clothes like socks and gloves to put on before going to sleep at night since it can get cold even when it's summertime outside during hiking season!

How much weight (and space) do hikers need? The answer depends on your fitness level and weather conditions where hike often take place such as rainforest climate zones where humidity levels increase significantly due

Extra Food

You don't want to run into any surprises when you're in the middle of a hike. Unfortunately, you can't always predict what will happen so it's important to have extra food in case of an emergency. Our Readywise Adventure Meals are lightweight and easy to rehydrate which make them excellent choices for emergency and everyday use on trail.

It's also good practice to pack easy-to-eat snacks like our delicious cookie bites, they're light and simple. They don't take up much room in your bag, but they give your body the energy it needs while hiking.

Extra Clothes

  • Extra Clothes
  • The first thing you should consider when it comes to gear is clothing. When you take a hike or go backpacking, the temperature can change drastically throughout the day and night. As such, it's a good idea to wear layers of clothes so that when the temperature drops at night or rises during the day, you can easily change into different sets.
  • The fabric of your clothes should be made from wool or synthetic materials like polyester and nylon because they are lightweight yet warm enough for hiking in most weather conditions (excluding sub-zero temperatures). In addition to this, these fabrics also dry quickly when wet from rain or perspiration which makes them better than cotton when going outdoors as cotton takes longer to dry out and may become stiff if left damp for too long.

Having the right gear will make your hike enjoyable and safe

You can't predict the weather. You can't predict the terrain. You can't predict the wildlife. You can't always predict your own physical condition, mental state or what will happen on your hike.

Having the right gear will make your hike enjoyable and safe. But don’t overdo it—you don’t need to carry everything you own on a hike or backpack trip that lasts less than seven days.



Hiking is one of the best ways to get out into nature and relax, but it can be dangerous if you don’t have the right gear. We hope this list has inspired you to start planning your next adventure, whether it's a day hike or an extended backpacking trip! Remember that preparation is key when heading off into unfamiliar territory—for example, make sure you know how much food and water you will need for each day so that no one goes hungry or thirsty because they didn't plan properly beforehand.

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