When you first begin hiking, it is easy to assume that all you need are a good pair of boots and a direction to walk in. Some easy hikes do need only that.
For a long hike, there are a few important things you will need in your backpack too. Although these are items that will be useful when you are hiking, they are also necessary to keep you safe.
To make sure you have everything you could need on your hiking trip, here is a quick guide to the essentials you will need for your next long hike.
1. Good Quality Boots
Hiking is kind of a strange term. Some people use it when they are just going for a walk. But, hiking generally involves strenuously walking up and down hills, and, working your way through some tricky terrain.
Because of this, you definitely need some good quality hiking boots. Your battered old sneakers are not going to quite do the job this time.
2. A Hydration Pack
You might be used to packing your water bottle into your backpack. But, on a long hike, a hydration pack is a much better option.
Hydration packs often double as backpacks. So you will not be adding a lot of extra weight for you to carry.
In fact, hydration packs can even be easier to carry. This is because water bottles can often be incredibly heavy, even when empty. Click here for available hydration packs.
As well as water, you are going to need a good deal of food to keep you going. Try to bring along food that will give you lots of energy in one go. Good examples are cereal bars and nuts. These have a lot of calories but they are intended to keep you going. They also will not take up much space in your backpack.
4. Waterproof Clothing
You have probably already packed a raincoat. But, you will also likely need some waterproof trousers. Even if you feel confident that it will not rain, it is still better to be safe than sorry. You definitely do not want to be using an umbrella on your hike!
5. Hot Weather Clothing
As well as needing to prepare for wet weather, you also need to be prepared for hot weather. Even if you are only out hiking for a day, the weather can change unexpectedly. This means it is best to be prepared for all weather conditions.
For hot weather, make sure you wear lightweight clothing. Even if you are only wearing a vest top, it will not keep you cool if it is fitted. Lightweight clothing that fits loosely will be the most cooling. It is also a good idea to take a baseball cap and sunglasses with you.
Flashlights will usually only be necessary if you accidentally end up hiking in the dark. But they can also be used if you drop something in the thicket. Or to alert someone to your location if you get lost or need help. Flashlights are an incredibly important emergency essential.
7. First Aid Kit
This is another item that you might not end up using, but should still take just in case. Tripping and scraping a knee or just catching yourself on a branch are all irritating parts of hiking. So it is important to have a first aid kit with the essential supplies. These should include bandaids/plasters, antiseptic, and painkillers. Check out the full list of first aid items here.
8. Navigation Tools
You might rely on your cell/mobile phone to provide you with directions most of the time. But, when hiking, there is a pretty good chance that you will not have access to the internet. So, just in case, it is a good idea to take a map and compass with you. Plus, it is usually more fun to navigate with an old-fashioned map and compass than just have your mobile tell you where to go.
9. Fire-Starting Tools
If you are hiking somewhere that allows you to light campfires, then taking some easy fire-starting tools is a great idea. Just remember that lighting fires is dangerous. It is also not allowed in every location. So make sure to check whether or not campfires are allowed before you start lighting.
10. Camping Equipment
If you are planning on camping on your hike, then you will of course need some camping equipment. But, even if you do not plan on it, it is a good idea to take a tent just in case. This is important on a long hike. Especially if you are not familiar with where you are going (or that old-fashioned map reading has got you lost (LOL)). This will be useful if you find you are more tired than you expected and need a rest, or if you underestimate how long the hike will take. You can easily turn your hike into a fun camping trip.
Multi-tools can often look a little intimidating. You might also be wondering why you would need to take a knife with you on a hike. But, multi-tools can do a lot of different things. So it is a good idea to take one with you just in case. Even if you only use the corkscrew to open a bottle.
12. Health and Hygiene Items
While you might think that all of these items would be included in the first aid kit, there are a few other things to remember. These should include items such as lip chap, sunscreen, hand sanitiser, toilet paper, and period products.
These all might seem like things you would easily remember. But it is better to be safe than sorry! Anything that you use on a regular basis is easy to forget about. You probably apply lip chap without even thinking about it. You also do not want to be caught out without toilet paper or a tampon when you are out hiking!
Once you have all of your essentials ready to go, you are going to need a way to carry them. When choosing a hiking backpack, practicality is much more important than style. Hiking backpacks might not look particularly cool. But you will be grateful for their practicality once you are on a trail. Make sure to find something that has lots of pockets and padding.
14. Emergency Whistle
This is definitely something that would otherwise be easy to forget. You will (hopefully) never need it. But once you have one, you will at least be secure in the knowledge that you can call for help. This is especially important if you are planning on hiking alone. Wherever you are hiking, there is a chance that there will not be any phone signal. So a whistle is definitely essential.
An emergency whistle will also be useful if you happen across someone else who needs help. So, even if you do not think it will be needed by you, it is worth taking just in case.
15. Cleaning Products
Cleaning products such as wet wipes will be a god send when you are out hiking. Especially if you also bring along antiseptic wipes. They will help you if you get a small cut or graze. Or if you just need to wipe some dirt or dog poop off your boots.
They will also be useful for when you have finished eating. Cleaning your hands with sanitiser (see above) before you eat is important. But once you have eaten, there is a good chance you will have food on your hands. (Eating a meal with cutlery is not a common sight while on a hike). Wipes will help you to clean yourself up. This will stop you from washing your hands with your hydration pack or water bottle and wasting water.