Hiking is one of the best ways to get outside, get active, and experience something different from your daily routine. Whether you’re going by yourself, with friends, or with family, hiking can be a cathartic experience.
It allows you to escape from the stresses and pressures of your day-to-day life. Furthermore, there’s something relaxing and almost meditative about being surrounded by nature.
Regardless of why you’re hitting the trail, you need to consult a hiking checklist to make sure you have everything you need to stay safe, secure, and comfortable. We want to help. Keep reading for a complete list of everything you need for day hiking and overnight hiking.
1. Hiking Boots, Shoes, or Sandals
One of the most important items on our hiking checklist is proper footwear. The footwear you choose to take you up and down the trail will have a profound effect on your entire experience. There are hiking shoes, boots, and even sandals designed for hitting the trail.
Here are some factors to consider:
- Comfort and flexibility
- Breathability vs insulation
- Tread and grip
- Water resistance
Pick the best hiking footwear based on what you know about the trail and the time of year. Additionally, professional hiking experience advises hikers to break in new footwear before the hike. New hiking boots can cause nasty blisters if they aren’t properly broken in.
2. Climate-Appropriate Clothing
Choosing the right clothing for your hike is also important. We recommend dressing in layers that you can discard as the day gets warmer.
Morning hikes generally start out pretty chilly. However, as you hike up the mountain and the day get’s warmer, you’ll want to be able to shed some of those extra layers.
3. A Quality Pack
Next on our hiking checklist, you need to find the best hiking backpack for your needs. If you’re simply day hiking, it doesn’t need to be a very big pack. However, if you’re planning on being out for several days, you’ll need a back that’s big enough to carry all your food, sleeping gear, and other overnight hiking essentials comfortably.
4. Electronics and Gadgets
While there’s nothing wrong with roughing it, it’s never a bad idea to bring along some hiking gadgets and other electronics. For example, to avoid getting lost in a new area, bringing a sat-nav device could prove beneficial.
Additionally, bring your smartphone or camera to ensure you can capture some of the beautiful scenery once deep in the woods or up the mountain. Finally, we recommend finding an authorized retailer for Garmin watches. These elegant, yet rugged hiking watches have everything from compasses to elevation features.
5. Food and Water
Food and water are essentials on our hiking checklist. You need to bring enough food and water to ensure your survival. Even for day hiking, it’s recommended to bring extra food and water.
These emergency stores will serve you well if you get lost or twist an ankle, and have to stay overnight. It’s also wise to bring something that can filter water and make it safe to drink. There are filtration systems or simple tablets that you can dissolve in water bottles.
6. Inclement Weather Gear
Being prepared is one of the most vital professional hiking rules. This means packing extra clothes to protect yourself from inclement weather conditions. Primarily, we’re talking about rain gear.
A simple rain poncho will help keep you dry and warm in the event of sudden rain showers (which are common in the mountains). If you’re doing overnight hiking, we recommend bringing a tarp to keep all of your stuff dry as well.
Finally, bring an extra pair of socks and shoes. If your primary shoes get wet during heavy rain or if you step into a stream, you need a backup pair. Walking around all day in wet shoes can destroy your feet.
7. Survival Gear and Equipment
Next on our hiking checklist is the ever-important survival gear. These are the tools and equipment that will keep you alive, whether you purposely stay overnight or experience some kind of emergency.
First, you need a knife or hatchet to help collect and break down firewood. There are dozens of other functions for knives and hatchets, but we don’t need to get into them now.
You’ll also need a means of starting a fire. You can bring lighters, waterproof matches, flint-and-steel, etc. We suggest bringing multiple fire-starters.
Additionally, you’ll want some equipment that will help you navigate the trail or find your way back if you get lost. This includes the sat-nav system, a map, and a compass.
You should also consider bringing flares, a whistle, and a mirror from which to reflect sunlight. If you get lost, these items will alert people to your location.
Finally, let’s not forget your first-aid kit. This should include bandages, antiseptic ointment, a snake-bite kit, a splint, and more.
8. Overnight Hiking Gear
Next on our hiking checklist, let’s talk about what you’ll need if you’re spending multiple days on the mountain or in the woods. Obviously, you’ll need shelter and sleeping gear.
This can include a tent and a sleeping bag. Alternatively, you could use a hammock and prop a tarp up overhead to keep yourself dry in the event of rain.
9. Animal Defense
Finally, whether you’re day hiking or overnight hiking, you need to be prepared for defense against wild animals. Do some research into the area in which you will be hiking to discover what type of dangerous animals will be present.
Common animals that pose a danger to hikers include:
- Mountain lions
- Wild pigs
- Poisonous spiders
Common wild animal defense equipment includes firearms, bear spray, and air horns.
Though it’s probably something you won’t need to worry about (and don’t want to think about), learn how to survive an attack from various wild animals. It’s better to have the knowledge and not need it than be defenseless during an attack.
Do You Have Everything On Our Hiking Checklist?
Before you load up your vehicle for your hiking trip, make sure you have everything listed on our hiking checklist. It’s better to be overprepared than found wanting in the wilderness.
And if you’re looking for more outdoor advice, camping tips, or any other lifestyle tips, stick around. Read through some of our other articles before you go to find more valuable information.