We love being outside, especially when we’re on a trail. Hiking is a great way to explore local, state parks, and national parks, but packing can be a bit daunting if you don’t know where to start. Don’t worry! We’ve put together a list of hiking essentials (plus our favorite bonus items) to help you get started and get out there! 


Woman backpacking through a valley with a yellow backpack.


To start, let’s talk backpacks: 

Backpacks come in all shapes and sizes, and choosing the right one can be tricky. You need to determine what kind of trip you are going on. Is it a day trip (daypack)? Are you going for a short hike? Or are you going on a multi-day backpacking trip? Don’t fret, there are plenty of resources and shops equipt for just this kind of thing! We recommend shopping for your backpacking pack at your local outdoor outfitter, but if it’s a short hike or a day trip, a school bag with supportive straps works just fine (try to find one with a good amount of pockets, trust us).


Yellow backpack in a grassy field.


Now that you’ve got your pack, it’s time to prep for your trip: 

It’s important to know all the information you can about where you are heading, what trails you’ll be hiking, and your general timeline BEFORE you arrive to your destination. Pre-downloading apps like ‘All Trails’ is a great way to prepare for your adventure. Be sure to share this info with friends or family, and update them if your plans change. Learn about the area by visiting their website, and be sure to check trail and road conditions before you make the trek. 


Image of a flat map and compass.


Time to pack: what to bring with you: 

The essentials should always be with you during a hike, even if you think you might not need them. Here’s what we’ve collected for our day hiking checklist: 

  • Map and compass 
  • Water bottle// hydration (at least 1/2 a liter per hour of your hike)
  • Rain jacket
  • Knife or multi-tool 
  • First aid kit 
  • Whistle 
  • Lighter or waterproof matches 
  • Snacks (think salty, sugary, and protein-packed)
  • An extra layer of clothes (longsleeves, emergency blanket, extra clothing)
  • Sunscreen 
  • Headlamp or flashlight 
  • Bug Spray
  • Cellphone and battery pack

Got everything you need? Let’s talk bonus items. These might be considered essential to some, and optional for others—we’ll leave it up to you: 

  • Lightweight camp chair or hammock with straps 
  • A good book 
  • Binoculars or a magnifying glass
  • Pocket field guides of your region
  • Chapstick 
  • Hat or sunglasses 
  • Small field notebook and pencil 
  • Deck of cards 
  • Trekking poles
  • Garmin
  • Toilet paper
  • Repair kit
  • Bandaids
  • Energy bars
  • Extra water


A brown sign saying "Please Take Nothing But Pictures. Leave Nothing But Footprints."


Remember to follow Leave No Trace principles when on your next adventure, and check out our other blogs about tips for your next camping trip, leaving things better than you found them, and how to be a better trail user. Happy adventuring!  


Hiking is a great way to explore parklands, but packing can be daunting if you don’t know where to begin. We’ve put together a list of essentials (and a few bonuses) so you can be ready to hit the trails.
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