The ULTIMATE Hiking Packing List
As I have continued to travel more around the world, I have continuously grown my passion for hiking. Whether it be in the mountains, rainforests, along the coast, or in valleys, I am always searching for that next hiking trail. I have also learned over this time period how important my supplies are that I bring with me on a hike. Whether it be staying hydrated and fueled, or being comfortable enough for any conditions, a thorough hiking packing list is essential when hitting the trail. If you are an experienced hiker or just a first timer out there, I am hoping that this packing list can help you out with your travels.
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Before getting into the list below I should mention that this is for day hikes only (anywhere from just a couple hours to a 10+ hour trail). If you are dealing with an overnight hike and need to bring your own tent, supplies, etc. this packing list would need to expand. If you are going on a multi day hike (say a guided tour) where all overnight items are taken care of for you, then you can still just leverage the list below.
I have listed out each and every item that I take with me when hitting the trail. You can click on the links and images along the way to purchase the same or similar items that I have through Amazon. You do not have to purchase the exact items but these are listed out to give you a good idea of what your itemized packing list should look like.
When going on nearly any type of mountain hike or one in a cooler climate I always bring 8 items of clothing. You can of course add or remove some items given the exact type of hike and climate you will be experiencing. Just do not assume the weather you will start the hike in will be the same all the way through.
5) Wool Socks
8) Warmer Jacket Layer (if weather permits)
When climbing a mountain or dealing with cooler temperatures it is vital to bring along layers for all parts of the hike. A normal type of hike could work something like this: an early morning start in cooler temperature wearing all layers, followed by a sweaty ascent up with just a T-shirt and shorts on, and finishing up top with my layers back on with the wind blowing and frigid mountain air settling in. You never know what certain hikes can bring, so being prepared with those layers is essential.
Going off of that – when choosing your clothing layers, be sure to pick those that are NOT made of cotton material. Cotton absorbs moisture, which can be very problematic when it comes to sweat. Always opt for dri fit polyester or wool material that passes along the moisture from one layer to the next and ultimately into the air (these are called moisture wicking material).
On top of the clothing I would highly recommend a packable rain jacket. The one linked below folds up into one of the pockets and is extremely travel friendly. As mountain weather (or weather in general) can change any minute, having a sturdy rain jacket will work wonders. And make sure that jacket is waterproof and not just water resistant! Staying dry will go a long ways up on the trail.
> The clothing items linked are to the mens options. Nearly every item out there will have the same or similar womens options available
Going on a hike would not be complete without a sturdy pair of hiking shoes. I have seen so many people over the years do some pretty technical hikes with just sneakers on. And I can’t tell you how many times I have seen these people slip, slide, and fall all over the place. If you want to hit the trails, I highly suggest investing in a solid pair of hiking shoes.
This will all depend on fit for you but some of the main brands include Keen (Targhee Series), Merrill (Moab Series), North Face (Ultra Series) and Salomon (X Ultra Series). A couple things to take into consideration are how much support you want (i.e. how high the shoe goes) and whether or not to get waterproof shoes as that usually adds on to the cost of the shoe (but believe me it is worth it!).
There is probably nothing more important that staying hydrated during a hike. Especially if it a hike in hotter weather when you will start sweating a lot and losing that fluid. I always fill up a 750 ml water bottle and depending on how long the hike it I would bring along another disposable bottle – whether than be just a regular bottle or a 1.5 liter one. You can also think of getting a hydration bladder if you want to store more fluids in an efficient way.
Not only do you need water on the trail but you will also need some fuel. Since you will want to keep your body going at peak performance throughout a hike it is very important to bring along some food. My go to options usually include Clif bars, fruit nut mixes, and granola bars. Now this can be up to you depending on taste but always make sure to bring something with you during a hike.
Also don’t forget to have a hearty dinner and breakfast before a hike. Preparing your body beforehand is always an important thing to do.
Here is a list of a few more essentials that I believe should be brought along when hiking. While you may not need every item on every hike, I wanted to write them down just so you can decide for yourself when preparing for the trail.
Sunscreen & Bug Spray
Going along with protecting your body, sunscreen is also an extremely important item to bring on a hike. The sun is strong out there so making sure you are protected from those rays will go a long way. If I am going on a rainforest hike and there are a lot of bugs out there, then taking some bug spray is essential to not getting all bitten up.
Backpack Rain Cover
I’ll be going into hiking packs in the last section but it is always a good idea to keep your belongings nice and dry. If it starts raining during your time out there on the trail, you don’t want everything in your bag to get soaked. This small packable backpack rain cover can do wonders out there.
GoPro & Accessories
This may not be for everyone but bringing along a GoPro to capture some footage during a hike has been one of my favorite things to do. A phone or regular camera may work but getting those wide angle shots of the trail and yourself heading up it, is always going to be better shot on a GoPro. Bringing along some GoPro accessories too will make capturing your footage a bit easier. From head straps to expandable sticks, there are plenty of accessories to choose from.
Whether you are using your phone for directions or photo taking, you will always want to have it charged during a hike. Phone batteries can die sooner than you think if you are constantly taking shots or taking a look at a map. I usually bring along a small portable charger along with a charging case as well.
Now that you have all these items it is time to put them all into a backpack. I have basically only used Osprey (Talon Series) and Thule packs through the years. They are durable, reliable and have plenty of different pockets to store all your items above. You won’t need one that is too big but it should be at least in the 20+ liter range.
BONUS: HIKING APP
While all the above will help prepare you for hitting the trails from a gear perspective I also wanted to point out a very helpful mobile app to get you around the trails. The app maps.me has been an essential part of my hiking experiences. Basically, with maps.me you can download the offline maps of the area where you will be hiking so when you head on the trail, you will always know where you are (even when you have no service). The app has almost all hiking trails mapped out, along with places of interest, viewpoints, etc. so you know exactly what to expect along the way. During certain hikes where there are multiple routes or poor signposted trails, you can just look at maps.me and be on your way in the right direction. Believe me this is one app you want to have!!
Well then, that about does it for an all inclusive hiking packing list. I hope you have learned a bit more about what to bring along on the trails and why some of these items can be essential out there in nature. If you have any additional recommendations feel free to write them in below! Always open to hearing other people’s thoughts when hitting the trails. Have fun out there and safe travels!