20 Things You Must Pack For A Hiking Trip
Hiking can be a fun activity to do. It will be tiring, but very rewarding. Not only you will be able to see how far can your legs take you, you will be mesmerised by the beauty of our world.
Hiking one of the many paths in the Tatra Mountains was an experience of a lifetime and something that I would love to do again. If you are going to try hiking for the first time, you might be unsure what you should take in your backpack so let me help you with that with this Hiking Pack List.
1. A Good Backpack
A good backpack is probably one of the most important things to take on your hiking trip.
Your backpack should use water resistant materials, it should have various compartments, offer a padded hip belt and padded shoulder straps. Make sure it has a net pocket so you can keep your bottle of water close so you remain hydrated while hiking.
2. Good Pair of Shoes
Make sure you have comfortable shoes to wear while hiking. If you don’t plan to hike that often, you might not need to invest in hiking boots. Comfortable sneakers with a good sole might do. Do some research on the place and how difficult the climb will be, so you can prepare yourself and get the best equipment for the trip.
Short or long sleeves depending on the time of the year. Avoid anything made of cotton and opt for synthetic materials or wool. Cotton make a poor insulator when wet and you will sweat quite a bit on your climb. Carry a second t-shirt in your backpack so you can change when you reach the top. Wearing wet clothes can be very uncomfortable, you will be glad to have a clean and dry shirt with you after you stop at the top for a long period.
4. Warm Layer
The weather in the mountains can be unpredictable and a sunny day can turn into a cold one in seconds. Make sure you pack a long sleeve sweater that you can wear when it gets a bit chilly. It’s important to stay comfortable while hiking, opt for a light sweater if summer and be careful to not overheat.
5. Windproof / waterproof jacket
Since the weather in the mountains may often change, you might notice that bright sunny day suddenly turns into a cold and rainy one in just a few minutes. Since it might be difficult to find a shelter that will keep you completely dry, make sure you carry a windproof and waterproof jacket that you can quickly put on and get some protection from the cold and rain. If your jacket has a hoodie, even better.
6. A Map
You are probably on a marked trail, so it’s easy to follow and navigate without any effort. Carrying a map may be useful when you want to follow a different path (if allowed), mark down interesting landmarks and know how much you still have to go until you reach your destination.
7. A Compass
It’s very unlikely that you will get lost while hiking by following a marked path. Unless you are in the backcountry and you are just roaming the wild without any predefined path to follow. Either way, carrying a compass might be a good thing to have with you. Not only will it help you while navigating using the map, it will also make you feel like a real explorer.
Hiking is tiring, it will push your body and you will sweat. In a sunny day, you might have moments that your body will feel too hot and you might need to have a break by the shade. Water might also be hard to come by on your hike and you might not even know if it’s safe to drink.
With this in mind, make sure that you carry a good amount of water, so you can take a few sips from time to time and keep yourself hydrated. On our hike to the Tatra Mountains, we carried a bottle of 1,5L each and by the time we finished our adventure, all that water was gone.
9. Food & Snacks
Hiking is tiring. You might spend hours pushing yourself and become so focus that you don’t even realise when was the last time you ate something. Eventually, you will feel drained and starved. Make sure that you pack some food and snacks with you, so you can replenish your energy.
Take some sandwiches, chocolate, nuts and energy bars; don’t forget to take frequent breaks to munch on something. Not only your body will thank you, you will feel much better the next day when every muscle in your legs is aching.
You are probably not going to hike in the dark, but a torch is always a good thing to pack. In the worse case scenario that you get lost or injured and the sun is starting to go down, you can use the torch to signal your position and make your location visible to searching parties. Something this bad is very unlikely to happen, but better safe than sorry, right?
11. First Aid Kit
Twisted ankles, minor scrapes and abrasions are three of the most common injuries while hiking. When you are surrounded by nature, it might be hard to get quick medical help. Carrying a first aid kit will help when misfortune comes knocking and something happens to you.
Make sure you have different sized bandages, vinyl gloves, cleaning wipes, plasters, paracetamol, ibuprofen and anti-diarrhoea tablets in your first aid kit.
You already know that you should carry water with you and you should often drink it so you can remain hydrated. But when you are having a break, drinking water might be the last thing you want to drink. If you enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, it’s a good idea to carry a thermos filled with your favourite hot beverage. I’m sure you will enjoy sipping something else than water while having a snack.
13. Camera / Phone
Hiking is amazing because you push yourself, you are in contact with nature, you have the opportunity to see some animals and because you will see truly stunning views. It’s always a good idea to carry a camera or a phone with you so you can take a few pictures as you hike, and it will make the effort the more sweeter.
If you use your phone to take photos and keep the map running in the background or a tracker like Endomondo, chances are that your battery will be drained fairly quick. A powerbank can charge your phone up to 6-8 times, which means that you don’t need to worry about running out of battery halfway through your hike.
15. Journal & Pen
This might be a personal preference, but it’s great to write in your journal whilst you have a break. You can write all sort of things, such as what have you seen so far, how are you feeling, what can you hear. Try to be as descriptive as possible and later on, you can come back and relive your adventure.
16. Sun Protection
Sunburn is another common injury of hikers. The air in the mountain is usually fresher as you go up, so you might not notice how strong the sun might be. Take a biodegradable sun cream with you and apply from time to time, protecting yourself from harmful UV rays.
17. Insect Repellent
You will find a few insects on your hike. From mosquitos to ticks, it’s impossible to keep away from them, unless you decide not to hike at all. Do your research about the trail that you want to hike so you know what sort of things you might find, then buy the right insect repellent for that hike and stay bite-free.
In national parks, you might have a few zones with toilets, but most of them run out of paper quite quickly. Carrying a pack of tissues with you can be a life saver in those moments.
19. Hand Sanitizer
Some of the toilets in national parks are those portable ones, which means that you might not have water to wash your hands after going to the toilet. Hand Sanitizer gel can at least keep some of the nasty germs away. It’s also good to sanitise your hands before eating something
It’s very unlikely that you might need to use it, but it’s good to carry it just in case. A whistle won’t weigh you down and it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not having it. A whistle can be used to call for help and to guide search parties to you. The international SOS morse code to call for help is – three short whistles; three long whistles; three short whistles – use it if you are ever in danger.