You want to hike. What now?
Hiking is one of the best forms of fun activities out there. After a hefty load of stress from work and other responsibilities (Read: Adulting), sometimes you just want to pack things up and explore places that will take you away from the monotony and pressure of your daily life.
Being outdoor urges you to reflect, commune with nature and gain another beautiful perspective of the world. Or sometimes, just reset. I know I do.
But before you go, keep in mind that it can get unpredictable in any adventure outdoors, so you should always be prepared and know your essentials. Outdoors is not a joke, Jim!
In this guide, I will cover:
- Your 10 Hiking Essentials
- What to pack for a day-hike?
- Your camping essentials
- Other bonus tips to help you stay alive
Recommended Hikes For Beginners Mt Kulis in Tanay, Rizal (Ultimate Travel Guide) Laiban Falls Travel Guide Hiking Mt. Manalmon in San Miguel, Bulacan
What Are The 10 Hiking Essentials?
These are core items that you need to bring with you on the trail, whether that’s a short or a multi-month through hike. This list goes way back in the 1930s (imagine an era before helicopter evacuations and satellite beacons!) and has stood the test of time in keeping folks safe and alive outdoors.
But, of course, you can modify it with the latest in gear and technology, along with what’s appropriate to your itinerary and needs.
MAPS & NAVIGATION
I once almost got lost on the trail while hiking solo to Australian Base Camp in Nepal. I was pretty confident (or stupid?) about the footpath being straightforward with clear signages along the way.
And yet, that unpreparedness almost cost me my safety and the worry of my loved ones. So, it’s best not to commit the same mistake and take navigation as a considerable part of being prepared outdoors!
Related Stories For You: My First Solo Hike: Australian Base Camp in Dhampus, Nepal Meet the People Of: Thamel, Kathmandu | Nepal (Part 1) Meet the People Of: Thamel, Kathmandu | Nepal (Part 2)
If you can, please bring both electronic and old-school tools:
Old School But Indispensable:
Compass and Topographic Map
Electronic and Digital:
GPS Device: Almost every smartphone/watch comes with a GPS app, but keep in mind that location tracking can quickly drain your batteries on both. So either closely watch your battery percentage or pack an extra set of batteries/power bank. I always carry two (2) batteries for a 1-2 day hike and a fully charged power bank.
Personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite messenger:
This gadget can come in handy during emergencies as this will determine your position using GPS and contact authority or commercial satellites. It also has an excellent messaging service in remote locations without stable signals.
Personally, I haven’t used one yet since I have a reliable local mountain guide with a walkie-talkie. But I will purchase once I do more international hikes.
To & From Destination / Jump Off Point
Google Maps – This one’s a given. Just download the relevant map online beforehand, and switch to flight mode to conserve battery.
Maps.Me – Another good option when it comes to offline maps. But I seldom use this and only get by with Google Maps alone.
Waze – Download the app (available both IOS and Android) and look for your destination as a pin.
AllTrails – This app allows you to access a database of trail maps, which includes crowdsourced reviews and images. (Note: Not as extensive yet for local trails (Philippines) based on observation. But more than comprehensive for international or western routes. But I use this frequently for research purposes.
Additional Note: In the Philippines, we usually have trained mountain guides that carry portable two-way radios to communicate to/from Barangay halls. I recommend double-checking if they are taking one as there are instances that they will leave it on-site out of complacency and an easy hiking trail.
Ensure they have it with them at all times so appropriate authority and rescue will attend to you in case of emergencies.
There’s a big chance that you’ll suffer during your hike if you don’t take hydration seriously. I carry both a one (1) Liter water bottle and a hydration bladder. The latter is more convenient for me. It’s the ease of just pulling out the hose without hauling your entire bag or stopping mid-trail.
Take your water seriously!
Also, I source my water from home then carry it with me from the commute to the trail. I consider the extra weight as “training.” But if you’re not up for that self-induced struggle and also want to be extra careful, you may also sterilize your water sourced from the trail by using Steripen or any of those purification tablets.
I’m not a heavy eater on the trail and can survive on small snacks such as below. Just make sure to pack food high in calories, but low in weight and have a good mix of proteins and carbohydrates.
- Protein Bars
- Trail Mix
PS: I’m that type of hiker that looks forward to pasta or any cravings as a reward after summiting the mountain. Oh boy, imagine my face once I stuffed that plate of joy into my mouth!
That fiery ball of beauty is one of the primary causes of aging. And as much as I love the outdoors, I know how incredibly damaging those rays of light can be to our skin. So save yourself the trouble of sunburn, sun poisoning, or even skin cancer by packing up these things:
- Sunblock, sunblock, sunblock!
- Hat, gloves, and sunglasses
- Sun Protect Jacket
- Bandana and Buff
- Lip SPF
Prepare for all weather eventualities. As much as you can, you should stick to sweat-wicking material. Avoid jeans or any cotton fabrics – if they get wet, they are heavy, take forever to dry, and you’ll get cold quickly. Also, you don’t want to mess with Hypothermia.
In socks, merino wool is the optimal choice. It prevents blisters due to its quick-drying capabilities. It’s the best out there, and I haven’t researched any better options yet. Let me know if you do.
Okay, I’ll come clean and admit that I also use my phone as a source of light while on the trail. It’s risky, though, since there are trails that need scrambling, and I am a petite Asian girl that needs to crawl and hold on to branches and rocks for balance. That means placing my phone between the space of my sports bra (yep! plenty of room there!).
Aside from illuminating your footpath, the headlamp can also send signals to rescuers in case of emergency.
As much as possible, don’t settle with “pre-packaged kits” alone. Instead, please customize your own according to your medical needs and other emergencies you can think of. Also, you’ll never know when your preparedness can save a life on the trail.
I’m a fan of Les Stroud (Survivorman), and I can distinctly recall his emphasis on learning how to start a fire as one of the foundations of outdoor survival.
Make sure to pack any of the following. The last one is the most convenient: Fire Starter, Magnifying Glass, Outdoors Lighter (Bic Lighter)
REPAIR GEAR & TOOLS
You may encounter accidents or inconvenience while on the trail so bringing tools that can get you out of trouble or hassle is an excellent addition to your packing list.
Personally, I just bring a multi-tool and duct tape just in case my shoes betray me. But you may also consider adding the following:
- Small gear repair kit includes fabric repair tape, cordage, safety pins, zip ties, and repair parts for a water filter, tent poles, stove, sleeping pad, crampons, snowshoes, and skis.
SHELTER – EMERGENCY BIVY
You need to protect yourself from extreme cold and heat in case you are injured or stranded. Carrying an ultralight tarp, a bivy sack, or a lightweight emergency space blanket is necessary. This setup is apart from your tent if you’ll be leaving the latter at camp.
What Are Your Day Hike Essentials?
- Day Backpack
- Clothing (And extra!)
- Boots or Shoes
- Sandals or slippers
- Navigation Tools. (See details above)
- First aid kit
- Phone and other electronic devices
- Camera for documenting the beauty around you!
- Other 10 hiking essentials listed above as suited to your hike!
How About Your Camping Essentials?
I don’t own a complete list of camping equipment yet but will gradually invest soon. As a minimum, though, the following should get you covered for a good day of camping:
- Sleeping mat, bag, and liner
- Pillow (Mine’s just my bag because I’m paranoid, but hey, a decent pillow wouldn’t hurt you!)
- Cooking: Small burner, gas canister, and other cooking supplies.
You’ll need the usual hiking gear below:
- Hiking Poles
- Refillable Water Bottle or Water Bladder (I carry both. 3L gang here!)
- Water purification method
- First Aid Kit (As much as possible, don’t settle with “pre-packaged kits” alone. Instead, please customize your own according to your medical needs and other emergencies you can think of.)
- Rubbish bags for carrying out all your waste
- Head Torch
- Basic toiletries (Also, tissue & toilet trowels for digging a hole and burying human waste are necessary.)
Obviously, I like documenting my adventures through photos and videos. But who doesn’t these days? So below is the list of electronics you should take with you to capture your special moments too:
- Appropriate Cables
- Power Bank
- DSLR/Mirrorless/Point and Shoot Cameras
- Extra Batteries for Camera
- Extra Memory Cards for Camera
- Add Ons Only – Solar Panel for Charging & Satellite Communication device for Emergencies.
Other Bonus Tips to Help You Stay Alive!
Do Your Research
Before you visit a place, especially if alone, do extensive research first about the area and activity you’ll be doing. Below are the questions I usually keep a mental note of before going out:
- How do you get there?
- What’s the weather forecast? Regardless of how brave you are, no one is above mother nature. Don’t compromise your safety.
- What are the requirements before visiting the place? Do you need to book an appointment first? (More so on stricter protocols during this pandemic.)
- What’s your itinerary? Is it a day trip? Or are you camping overnight? (Refer again to the hiking essentials list above.)
- What do you need to pack? How much money do you need to bring?
- If shit hits the fan or you encounter any form of inconvenience, what’s your contingency plan? Plan B sometimes isn’t enough. You need a Plan C as another backup.
Trust Your Instincts
I read a book that says our instincts are honed through our primal need to survive and avoid death. So if your gut tells you that there’s something or someone suspicious or threatening around you, extricate yourself from the situation. And call for attention or help.
Safety over Ego and Fun
Being outdoors or traveling, in general, is not just about having fun and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone; your safety should come on top of your priority list.
If you are a woman traveling alone to a remote place, make sure to finish your itinerary or settle before the sunsets because it lessens the variable of what might get you into trouble: sketchy people, transportation, and lodging problems, among a few. I think this topic requires a post on its own based on my experience. We’ll get to that soon.
You deserve it.
Overall, preparedness is key to enjoying the outdoors safely. I hope this list of hiking essentials helped you in planning a safe and enjoyable trip!
If you have any useful info to add or stories to share, get in touch through the comments section below or send an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll try my best to help you. Good luck and enjoy your trip!
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