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OutdoorsTravel Tips

What to Bring Hiking – A Checklist

what to bring hiking checklist
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What to Bring Day Hiking

There is nothing that compares to spending a day in the woods or slowly ascending a mountain. Every time I need a reset or just need to get some space, engorging myself in nature is my top go to. 

Regardless of why you’re hiking or where you plan on going, there are a few key essentials to make sure your trip is safe and fun! To figure out what you need for your hike, there’s a few things to consider. The first consideration is how long you plan on being on your hike and will you be camping? What is the weather predicted to be like in the area you’re hiking? Are you going to be in a remote location for most of the hike?

All of the previous questions go into deciding what kind of clothing to take with you, if any extra safety gear should be brought, and how much food you should bring with you. There’s a lot of options for hiking gear to take with you, so be sure to pay attention!

Also, if you’re looking to get hiking gear for a friend, check out our gifts for hikers guide!

Day Hiking Checklist

There will be sub-items to these that fill specific purposes, but the following list is composed of what you should keep in mind when planning a hike. 

  • Clothing (depending on weather)
  • Hiking boots/shoes
  • Food (however many meals you’ll miss plus snacks)
  • Water
  • Safety equipment (via-ferrata if needed and first-aid kit)
  • Navigation (map or phone with service)
  • A hiking bag to carry it all!

clothing for hiking

Hiking Clothing

The clothing you bring on a hike will depend mostly on the weather and how long you’ll be on the trail. 

If you’re going hiking in the winter, make sure you have an adequate hiking jacket, multiple layers depending on the temperature. Likewise, ensure you have the right clothing for hotter climates as well. That includes thin clothing that covers your skin to avoid sunburns!

Hiking Boots-Shoes

Another VERY important item to consider when preparing for a hike. You’ll spend a long time on your feet, possibly traversing rough terrain, it’s important to make sure your feet are well protected! 

You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on good hiking boots, but I will say I spent about $250 on a pair of Lowa Gore-Tex boots roughly 7 years ago and they’ve yet to give me any issues. So remember, buying a set of hiking boots may be a decade long investment!

Don’t forget about socks! It didn’t take me long to learn the lesson of having a proper pair of socks when hiking (thank you professor blister). I recommend high quality compression socks that help circulation and feel comfy!

hiking snacks


I feel like this one goes without saying, but it’s understandable that some people underestimate how much they’ll need. You’ll want to have plenty of healthy carbs and have enough food to replace all of the calories you lost while hiking. If you’re on a short day hike, having some snacks to hold you over might be all you need.

However, if you plan on camping and cooking, make sure you bring enough food to replace the meals you miss!


I’ve gone hiking and left behind food, but you should always triple check the amount of water you need for a hike or camping trip. During one of my hikes in New Hampshire, about halfway through I ran out of water because I didn’t realize how long the hike would take (I’ve learned a lot since then). There is no worse feeling than that, running out of water at the top of a mountain. Needless to say, my legs were fairly shaky by the time I reached the end. 

If you’re curious to know how much, check out REI’s article on hydration basics!

Safety Equipment

Another important thing to consider on any outdoor trip, how to stay safe!

Every hiking trip should have at least a small first-aid kit.

That’s not the only piece of safety equipment that you might need for a hike. Most activity guides will offer what safety equipment is needed for what you’ll be doing. For example, if you’re on a trail with dangerous parts to clip into, you’ll also need climbing gear and a via ferrata.

Some hikes will have minimal cover and require sunscreen. It all depends on what your trip entails, so make sure you look up the safety equipment specific to your hike. 

hiking navigation


You’re out in the wild (maybe), trees may be obscuring your vision, and it’s an unfamiliar area, getting lost happens. 

The best way to not get lost is to prepare in advance and have the right navigational tools. This may be a map and a compass, but not many people know how to properly use a topographical map. There’s nothing wrong with that, but make sure you know how to read a map if you bring one. 

Most people will opt to have a GPS tracker or ensure their phone has service (that’s my preference).

Hiking Backpack

Where are you going to carry all of this gear? A hiking backpack! 

Hiking backpacks come in a variety of sizes and prices. I have two hiking bags depending on the kind of hike. A day hiking bag (small and lightweight) and a larger trekking bag that is essentially a rucksack for hiking to a camping spot. 

There are some great options for day hike bags here!

Hiking Extras

There are some extra things you can take with you that may come in handy, but aren’t really needed.

  • Flashlight
  • Binoculars (wildlife spotting!)
  • Camera
  • Cellphone
  • Personal ID

Have fun and be safe!

Nothing compares to a nice day on the trail, but make sure you’re safe! Hopefully this short checklist helps and makes you more prepared for what to bring hiking!

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