Whether you’re filling a bag for a spontaneous hike or prepping for an outdoorsy vacation, the supplies you need for hiking are basically the same. While the length of the hike itself will determine whether some items are included or not, my over preparedness personality type tells me that all things are necessary at all times because what if something unexpected happens? But as always, I’m no expert. Just sharing with you what I’ve learned. Take what you will from that.
No matter the duration of your hike, food and water are necessities, no questions asked. Hiking requires energy and dehydration happens a lot faster when you’re out and about. I recommend granola bars, trail mix, or similar that won’t be effected by the weather conditions. A useful investment is a Camelpack or some other backpack with the water inside and a straw attached, but it’s not necessary if you don’t want to spend the money on it. CamelBak’s website has a nifty water calculator that asks a few questions and calculates how much water you would need for maximum performance. I’ve also heard that you should drink half your weight in ounces of water each day (For example, if you weigh 100 pounds you should drink 50 ounces of water. Simple enough, right?). Whichever method you use, water is the most important thing to have with you at all times!
As a perpetually pale person, I live by sunscreen. Personally for hikes I like to use Neutrogena sunscreen for my face and any type of spray sunscreen for my arms and legs. I also bring a hat of some sort and cheap sunglasses (in case I lose them). Bugspray can also be important, depending on the season and location of your hike. I usually bring some just in case! If you’re trying to save weight and space, go for the bug wipes rather than spray. They’re generally single use, so you’ll decrease bag weight as you use them.
A map and a compass can be lifesaving gear when hiking in an unfamiliar area. Even if you’ve been there before or have a general idea where you’re going, it’s never a bad idea to have a reference just in case! The same goes for a cell phone in areas where you have reception and a satellite phone in areas you don’t. You know, just in case of emergency. The same goes for a small first aid kit that includes at the very least bandaids!
I always bring my camera since I enjoy taking pictures and sharing them with you, but that’s certainly not required.
Keep in mind this is a short list for short trips. Anything all day, overnight, or longer would require more supplies! But this list has provided a useful starting point for me.
What hiking gear do you never leave home without?