6 must-pack items for your next hike

6 must-pack items for your next hike mccall writes travel girl new zealand

Hiking is a fantastic way to connect with nature, improve your fitness, and challenge yourself physically and mentally.

To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, it’s crucial to be well-prepared and pack the right gear for your adventure.

In this blog post, I’ll share six essential things to pack for your next hike, helping you hit the trails with confidence and peace of mind.


Make sure to pack appropriate footwear, weather-appropriate clothing, hydration and nutrition, navigation tools, first aid kit and emergency supplies, and sun protection.

Proper preparation and packing can help hikers face various challenges on the trail. By considering these essentials, hikers can embark on their adventures with confidence and peace of mind.

Table of Contents

1. Appropriate Footwear

One of the most critical aspects of a successful hike is wearing appropriate footwear. The right shoes or boots can make all the difference in your comfort and safety on the trail. When selecting footwear for your hike, consider the following factors:

  • Terrain: Choose footwear that’s suitable for the specific terrain you’ll encounter on your hike. Rough or rocky trails may require more robust hiking boots with good ankle support, while well-groomed trails can often be navigated with lightweight hiking shoes or trail runners.
  • Weather: If you’re hiking in wet or cold conditions, opt for waterproof footwear to keep your feet dry and comfortable. In hot or dry climates, breathable shoes can help prevent overheating and discomfort.
  • Fit: Ensure that your hiking footwear fits well, with enough room for your toes to wiggle but not so much that your foot slides around inside the shoe. Break in your shoes or boots before your hike to minimize the risk of blisters and discomfort.

2. Weather-Appropriate Clothing

The clothing you wear on your hike can significantly impact your comfort and safety. It’s essential to pack weather-appropriate clothing to protect yourself from the elements and regulate your body temperature. Follow these guidelines when choosing your hiking attire:

  • Layers: Dress in layers to easily adapt to changing temperatures and weather conditions. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to help keep you dry, followed by an insulating layer for warmth, and a waterproof, breathable outer layer for protection against rain and wind.
  • Material: Avoid cotton clothing, which can absorb moisture and cause chills. Opt for moisture-wicking materials like polyester, nylon, or merino wool to help regulate your body temperature and keep you dry.
  • Accessories: Don’t forget essentials like a hat, gloves, and a neck gaiter or buff, which can provide additional protection and warmth as needed.

3. Hydration and Nutrition

Staying hydrated and well-nourished is critical for maintaining your energy levels and overall well-being during a hike. Make sure to pack sufficient hydration and nutrition to fuel your adventure:

  • Water: Carry at least one liter of water per person for every two hours of hiking. Consider using a hydration bladder or water bottles that are easy to access and refill as needed.
  • Electrolyte Replacement: For longer hikes or particularly hot and sweaty conditions, pack electrolyte replacement drinks or tablets to help maintain your body’s electrolyte balance.
  • Snacks: Bring high-energy snacks like trail mix, energy bars, or dried fruit to keep your energy levels up throughout the hike. Plan to eat a small snack every hour or so to maintain your stamina and prevent fatigue.

4. Navigation Tools

Even well-marked trails can be confusing at times, and it’s essential to have the necessary navigation tools to stay on track and find your way:

  • Map and Compass: Carry a topographic map of the area you’ll be hiking and a compass to help you navigate. Learn how to use these tools effectively before your hike to ensure you can confidently navigate the trails.
  • GPS Device or Smartphone: A GPS device or smartphone with a reliable hiking app can provide additional navigation assistance. Just remember to keep your devices charged and carry a backup battery or power bank as needed.

5. First Aid Kit and Emergency Supplies

Accidents and emergencies can happen on the trail, so it’s vital to be prepared with a well-stocked first aid kit and emergency supplies:

  • First Aid Kit: Your kit should include essential items like adhesive bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, pain relievers, and any personal medications you may require. Consider taking a wilderness first aid course to learn how to use these supplies effectively in an emergency.
  • Emergency Whistle: Pack a loud emergency whistle to signal for help in case you get lost or injured.
  • Multi-tool or Knife: A multi-tool or knife can be invaluable in a variety of situations, from cutting bandages to repairing gear.
  • Fire Starter: Carry a waterproof fire starter, such as a lighter or matches in a waterproof container, to help you start a fire in an emergency or for warmth during an unexpected overnight stay.

6. Sun Protection

Hiking often involves prolonged exposure to the sun, making it crucial to protect your skin and eyes from harmful UV rays. Don’t forget to pack sun protection for your hike:

  • Sunscreen: Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and apply it liberally to all exposed skin. Reapply every two hours and after sweating or swimming.
  • Lip Balm: Pack a lip balm with SPF to protect your lips from sunburn.
  • Sunglasses: Wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection to shield your eyes from harmful rays.
  • Hat: A wide-brimmed hat or cap can provide additional protection for your face, neck, and ears.

Pack Smart for a Safe and Enjoyable Hike

Proper preparation is key to a successful and enjoyable hiking adventure.

By packing these six essential items—appropriate footwear, weather-appropriate clothing, hydration and nutrition, navigation tools, first aid kit and emergency supplies, and sun protection—you’ll be well-equipped to handle whatever challenges the trail may bring.

So grab your gear, lace up your boots, and set off on your next hiking expedition with confidence and peace of mind.

Happy travels!

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