From mountain trails to coast trails, you can find your perfect hiking trail everywhere. It might be that you want to explore the surroundings around your base camp, take a break after a busy week, push yourself, or simply get lost in nature.
Regardless of your passion, your gear shouldn’t be a burden. Here, we’ll explain how getting best hiking gear, so you can make it work for you. We recommend keeping your pack light.
IDENTIFY THE TYPE OF HIKE
Pack your gear based on the type of hike you’re planning (time, distance, climbing, technical difficulty) and the conditions you’re expecting (climate, season, weather).
Packing the right gear and clothing depends on your hike’s nature and the weather condition.
There aren’t many differences between a half-day and a full-day hike (except for the amount of food and water you pack). A multi-day trek requires a more complex selection of gear.
There’s so much gear to choose from, but only so much space in your pack! Do you need a tent, a sleeping bag, or a camping stove? Will you need freeze-dried meals or extra clothing layers?
Ascent and distance
As you hike, your itinerary will determine a hike’s difficulty more than the time duration. The longer or more challenging a hike is, the more important it is to hike light.
When you save a pound, you’ll have more energy and less fatigue, especially by the end of the hike.
Here are some differences between hiking and mountaineering. Throughout this article, we focus on hiking that does not require climbing rope (although a short hiking rope can sometimes be used to make exposed sections safer), crampons, or other mountaineering gear, such as ice axes and screws or skis.
The disciplines of backcountry skiing and glacier walking require special equipment and expertise in winter mountain conditions.
It is best to plan your itinerary in advance so you don’t get lost in difficult terrain. You can get topographic maps from local recreation areas (national parks, forests, state parks), or you can search online for them.
Weather, climate, and seasons
You will choose your clothing based on the conditions you hike in:
- Climate: There is a huge difference between the climate along the coast and in the mountains. Protect yourself from the cold, heat, rain, and sun when you are there.
- Season: Choosing the right season for your hike depends on the climate. Conditions can vary greatly within the same route (snowy, cold, or hot).
- Weather: The weather forecast for the day of your hike or the period of your trek should be checked. If there is a slight chance of bad weather, take extra layers (a waterproof jacket or windbreaker, rain pants, and a change of clothes).
Regardless of the type of hike, you should always bring the following gear (you may have to adjust depending on the conditions and terrain).
WHICH EQUIPMENT IS ESSENTIAL FOR HIKING?
- Hiking shoes of high quality
- Backpacks for hiking
- The right clothing for the weather
- The following items can help you stay protected from the sun: sunglasses, a cap, and sunscreen
- Food and hydration systems
- GPS watch, a hiking GPS, a smartphone with maps, a map, a compass, an altimeter, or a smartphone with maps.
- A first aid kit, an emergency blanket, a multi tool with a knife, a headlamp, and a cell phone are all essential first aid supplies.
FIT YOUR GEAR TO THE TYPE OF HIKE
Now that you’ve decided what kind of hike you’re going on, you’ll need to prepare your gear according to the weather.
Hiking requires the following equipment:
- Good hiking shoes: suitable for your hiking terrain and fitness level.
- A backpack can hold up to 70 liters for a multi-day trek without accommodation, and 10 liters for an hour-long hike.
- An adequate hydration system should always be available: a reservoir, water bottle, or flask
- You can use walking poles on steep terrain if you are used to them.
- If it rains, cover your backpack with a rain cover
- For multi-day hikes requiring shelter, bring a tent, sleeping bag, or camping mat.
- Liner for sleeping bags in mountain huts
- Travel towels made of microfiber
- When hiking independently for several days, you will need a camping stove, pots, and pans, as well as cutlery.
- If you plan to hike on exposed terrain, bring a harness, rope, and carabiner
Packing your clothes, as well as the clothes you wear, is very important:
- Socks: If you want to avoid blisters and rubbing, you should wear good-quality walking socks
- Depending on the weather, wear shorts or pants. Also, available are pants that can be converted into shorts
- Comfortable sports bra for women made of synthetic fibers or merino wool.
- Cold mornings or summits require a fleece mid-layer or a thin-down jacket.
- Changing your T-shirt when you reach the summit or when you descend is a good idea.
- Changing underwear on multi-day hikes
- If there is a chance of rain, wear a windbreaker or waterproof jacket
- In case of rain, wear waterproof pants
- You should always have a down jacket in your pack when it’s cold outside. They’re warm and have a great weight-to-volume ratio.
- Depending on the weather and what you normally wear, wear a cap, sun hat, bandana, or beanie.
- In case of cold weather, gloves are a good idea.
- Snow gaiters or low-cut shoes: in case of snow.
Food and hydration
You should have a hydration system that can carry at least 1 liter of water. You should wear a backpack that has a separate water compartment, either inside or on the straps. Take more water if it’s hot, or if there are long stretches without water.
When it’s cold, an insulated drink’s bottle or a thermos of tea is always appreciated.
Water purification tablets or a filter should be brought on remote treks.
Ensure you have enough food, energy bars, and dried fruits for the entire hike. Eat regularly to prevent hypoglycemia and other conditions that can slow you down. Save your freeze-dried food for solo hikes, as well as breakfast rations. Be sure to keep an extra energy gel or bar at the bottom of your bag (or even in your first aid kit).
Do your research on the internet or by reading guidebooks and plan your itinerary in advance. In accordance with your preferences, you could take the following steps:
- Don’t forget to download the maps before you leave so you can access them offline on your smartphone with a GPS application
- You should opt for a GPS watch that has a barometer and altimeter
- Maps of the topography
- Due to the proliferation of cell phones and watches, a compass and altimeter are not commonly used.
A first aid kit and security supplies
You should prepare your first aid kit so that it covers any situation you may encounter without becoming overly heavy.
- Wear sunglasses and sunscreen (except if it’s pouring down rain!)
- An appropriate first aid kit for hiking
- Blanket for an emergency
- Knives or multitools with knives
- Keep a headlamp (at least a light emergency model) in your bag.
- With emergency contacts saved on a charged cell phone
- Information such as identity documents, phone numbers, medical conditions, and medications you may be taking could be extremely helpful in case of an accident.
As an option, depending on the circumstances:
- When hiking in dry weather, remember to check the potential wildfire risk, as carrying some items may be prohibited.
- If your GPS and cell phone run out of power, you’ll need an extra battery
- In the case of remote hiking, you will need a two-way radio, a satellite telephone, and a GPS track.
You can use tissues in a variety of situations because they aren’t too heavy and are easy to carry.
Tick repellents are becoming increasingly popular in affected areas. A good mosquito repellent may prove useful.
Keep your equipment light (cameras with lenses, binoculars, notebooks, and drawing materials). Being weighed down by your pack isn’t much fun and will restrict your movement.
You should avoid going on a hike alone, and you should share your itinerary with at least one person. These simple precautions could prove to be very important if something unexpected happens.
Keeping our environment clean is important. Carry a small bag and take your litter home with you.