Below is the list of the top 10 hiking essentials you may need to enjoy your hiking more. These, I think are essentials for your hiking gear list. Starting with the most important thing – a map. It’s good to have a good GPS unit, but a map is extremely important.
Your GPS unit should only be a backup for your paper map. Try to learn the basics of compass and map reading, it could well save your life. I carry a paper map always, even though my GPS unit has them loaded on anyway. It’s always a good idea to look at the big picture sometimes!
Best Hiking Essentials No.1: A Good Detailed Map
Probably the most important part of any hiker gear is a map! It’s best to get a really good detailed map that shows trails, inclines, forests, bogs, and terrain. And you cannot beat the good old paper maps. The details of some maps are amazing and they are really easy to use.
For example, if you want to hike somewhere in the UK then the Ordnance Survey maps are very good. It uses the 1:25 scale (2.5 inches to 1 mile) and is a pleasure to read these maps.
Best Hiking Essentials No.2: Waterproof and windproof gloves
If you hike during the cold weather then the outer extremities of your body suffer the most and it’s a good idea to get yourself a well-made pair of waterproof and windproof gloves. Don’t scrimp on paying a little extra. Some cheaper gloves will only last a few hikes and begin to split quickly.
The North Face gloves are costly, but you know you will get a quality item that won’t let you down. It’s better to own two pairs, one for light use on chilly mornings and a thick pair for hiking during the really cold weather.
Best Hiking Essentials No.3: Walking Poles
Hiking poles are also a good accessory to have! They help you balance and can be used as the third leg on difficult terrain. And if you are going to use a tarp instead of a tent, then a hiking pole can help you to set up your shelter especially when there are no trees around. Make sure you get a strong set (they usually come as a pair) that are adjustable to your height and walking gait.
Best Hiking Essentials No.4: Beanie Hat
You can easily store them in your backpack when the weather improves. Personally, I have the SealSkinz hat and I really like, also I have SealSkinz waterproof socks.
Best Hiking Essentials No.5: Gaiters
If you going into a wet boggy area then it’s good to have gaiters. Because no matter how careful you are when picking out your route in a boggy area, you always seem to step into a deep wet mass of soggy earth, sometimes going up to your knee and beyond. Gaiters can help you to not get your boots filled with the stuff!
Best Hiking Essentials No.6: First Aid Kit
I only take out the very basic items (such as plasters, scissors, antiseptic cream, and a bandage) of first aid kit when going on short hikes. However, for a long hike, it’s better to take the full kit. Better safe than sorry.
Best Hiking Essentials No.7: Compass
So, you’ve got a super good feature-rich GPS unit you paid a fortune for, then why do you need a basic compass? Well, if the battery of your GPS unit or a smartphone will be dead or if you’re in a thick forest and the satellite can’t see you, or you’re lost, then you’ll be glad you packed your compass. Try to learn at least the basics of using one with a map. It could save your life. They are also very cheap to buy and take up no space at all.
Best Hiking Essentials No.8: Headlamp
It’s surprising how many times I’ve had to use a headlamp or a flashlight. Many times, I’ve lingered far too long on a hike and got caught in the darkness. And if you’re planning to sleep in a tent, a flashlight or a headlamp is essential. Get a good strong waterproof one that is small and very bright, and make sure you have a spare set of batteries with you if you are out all night.
Best Hiking Essentials No.9: Sitting Pad
This is the thing that most travelers (including me) forget when they go on a trip. It does not take up much space in your backpack and this thing is very lightweight and cheap, but it is very easy to forget. A sitting pad is very useful for hiking because thanks to it you can sit comfortably and rest.
There is nothing pleasant if you sit on bare, cold and sharp stones or on the cold and dirty ground. In addition, sitting on cold surfaces is unhealthy. Therefore, the seat cushion is very useful to you.
Best Hiking Essentials No.10: Portable Water Filter
If you are only on a shortish hike, a bottle of water of two should be sufficient for your hydration, but if you planning a hike into the deep wilderness and may be away for 2 or 3 days, then a water filter is an essential. You can’t just take a swig from a river or lake to replenish your thirst, oh no…it more than likely to have chemicals and some sort of nasty bacteria in there.
A portable water filter may seem extreme, but remember, you can only live 3 days without clean water, so perhaps a water filter system like the Katadyn Vario is good to have.
Another good alternative to the aforementioned water filter and that’s extremely popular among the hikers is the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter, this one doesn’t cost a lot and easy to use.
So there you have it. There are probably hundreds of things you can add to the list, but I feel these are the main ones. Please get in touch if you think other essentials should be on the list instead of the ones above. And of course, you will need a hiking daypack or backpack and depending on conditions – sun protective cream and/-or anti-mosquito spray.