If you’re not sure which hiking equipment you really need, you’ve come to the right place. Your gear depends on:
- The length of your trip.
- The weather.
- The number of people you’re going with.
- Your destination.
- The difficulty level.
With that in mind, it’s obvious that a shorter trip, with fewer people, in milder weather, and on easier terrain requires less equipment.
Make a list
The essential stuff you need is:
- A tent.Make sure this is appropriate for the weather and number of people. Get a four seasons tent for cold weather, but choose a waterproof, and windproof item regardless of that.
- A sleeping bag.There are many shapes of sleeping bags, but if you’re sleeping alone, it’s best to choose a mummy-shaped one. If you’re sharing and joining two sleeping bags together, you’ll need rectangular and zippered bags.
- A backpack.Make sure it’s resistant, that it has plenty of compartments and sturdy zippers.
- A sleeping pad.This is great for colder weather and rough terrain, where you need something between your sleeping bag and the ground for extra cushioning and insulation.
- A hydration bladder.Make sure you choose one that prevents spilling, that’s resistant and that can easily be refilled.
- A multi-tool.This is great for small repairs you need to make around the campsite. Make sure you have a knife that’s sharp enough on it.
- A first aid kit.Don’t joke around with this, accidents can happen so you need at least a few bandages, sterile water and a gauge or two.
- A small axe.This is great for cutting through brush or for making a campfire.
- Waterproof matches.These are also windproof, which will help light the fire faster.
- You need to see when it’s dark, right?
- Kitchen utensils.If you’re planning to do some cooking around the camping spot, you’ll need a camping stove and a pot. Most camping stoves don’t need fuel, you can easily use twigs and branches on your way. But even if you decide against it, you might need a small pot for boiling some water and drinking a hot tea in the evenings.
- This is great in case you get lost from your group or if you’re in distress.
- Bear canister.This is to hide your food from bears as well as smaller animals that might come snooping around your tent.
- A few carabineers.These are for difficult descents or for securing things.
- You never know when you’ll need something like this for climbing up or down or for small repairs.
You need survival equipment
One thing that’s paramount when hiking is to stay safe on the trail, which is why you need equipment that can be used in the worst case scenarios. Of course, it still needs to be light and versatile enough so you won’t have to carry a huge weight.
For instance, you can easily run out of water in the wilderness, even if you have the latest and most resistant model of a hydration bladder. So packing the best survival straw filter can literally save your life, as it can purify the water from any puddles or streams you find on your way.
Don’t get too much or too little
You might think you’ll need to cover all your basis and carry immense loads of gear with you. But that only works if your Reese Witherspoon playing in the Wild. Otherwise, a huge backpack can destabilize and inconvenience you.
However, if you leave your backpack empty, it will dangle on your back which can also make you lose your balance. The lesson here is to get just the gear you need and that fits well in your backpack. Start by placing the heavier items at the bottom, and move on to the lighter ones at the top. The things you need at hand should be in your backpack’s pockets.
Technologically-advanced gear or the old-fashioned equipment?
The obvious question is why not both? Of course, you do need a reliable GPS for the most dangerous trails so you won’t get lost. You also need a survival radio to get all sorts of weather and disaster alerts, and some of these radios allow you to send messages of your own. A satellite phone could also be indispensable for the more remote locations.
So don’t get tricked into believing that a smartphone is just as good as all these three combined. It might work for a short backcountry hike, but not for difficult hikes in secluded destinations. You should also learn how to use a map and compass, and carry that with you.
Dress for success
You’ll need to follow the three golden rules of hiking when choosing the proper clothes and shoes:
- Layer up.
- Choose moisture-wicking materials.
- Get the right size.
Layers are amazing because once you get warmed up with the hike, you can easily take one out. Or if it starts raining, you can quickly put on your waterproof and windproof rain jacket.
Moisture-wicking materials are the best in terms of insulation. The first layer, that’s closest to your skin should be manufactured from materials like merino wool or polyester. You should never choose cotton shirts or underwear for hiking because it absorbs moisture, keeping it close to your skin.
Getting the right size might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many first-timers don’t. A smaller size is a clear mistake, but so is getting something too big. While you do need a bigger pair of sports shoes that can be worn with thicker socks or that allow your feet to swell a bit from the effort, baggy clothes are horrible. They’ll hinder your movements and produce chaffing, so you need to stay away from that.
Other tips and tricks
With that in mind, we’re curious what equipment you’ll take with you. Where are you planning your next hike? What places will you visit? And when you return, come back here with a few tips of your own on how to choose the right equipment.
Rebecca lives in USA, but loves hiking all over the world. Her favorite is Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. It usually takes 16 days, but she likes to slow down, enjoy mountains, company of other adventurers and take more pictures, so it took her 28 days last time. Another of her passion is the ocean, so all short and long hikes along the ocean shore bring a lot of joy. She also writes for HikingMastery.com.