Department Store · Sports & Outdoors · Travel

15 Hiking Essentials You Need To Pack

When you set out to go hiking, you probably think of a comfortable backpack and good hiking shoes. Check out this list of essential gear you need to pack on your next day or overnight hike. These items could save your life, if you ever find yourself in an unexpected situation.


A flashlight, lantern or a headlamp are an essential that is very needed, It can get very dark at night and if you have to navigate anywhere, you will need to light your way. Headlamps are good because they keep your hands free. Most headlamps have different light modes including a strobe mode that can be used to get help in an emergency.


You might have all the apps or GPS devices you can imagine, but you need to have a real map with you. Technology can fail and run out of power. Often the signal strength is not good out in the mountains, so you need to have something you can rely on. Topographical maps are the best to take with you.


Along with the map, you need to have a compass that can direct your steps, even if you have a sophisticated GPS device or app. Compasses don’t need a power source or batteries and some come equipped with a sighting mirror that can be used to flash sunlight to signal a helicopter or rescuer in an emergency. Technology is good, but don’t underestimate the importance of tried and true navigation devices.


Out in the elements, you need to protect yourself from the damaging UV rays of the sun. Don’t forget the sunscreen and remember to apply it. A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 is recommended as well as one that blocks UVA and UVB rays.


A good pair of sunglasses are essential. Make sure you buy a quality pair at a retailer such as REI. All of REI’s sunglasses block 100% of ultraviolet light (UVA and UVB) which is a key component of quality lenses. Did you know that UVB rays have been linked to the development of cataracts? Protecting your eyes is very important for your health.

First Aid Kit

Purchasing a readymade kit is best because they are designed to have supplies for a variety of issues and save you the time of building your own. You can find several first aid kits at Target, even ones that are packed in lightweight, waterproof containers.



When you are hiking you need plenty of water, hydration packs and water bottles are a good way to make sure you have enough good, clean water to drink. There are filter purifiers that can be used to turn stream or other water into safe drinking water that you should carry in the case of emergency. You can find these water filters on Amazon.

Safety Whistle

A loud safety whistle should be in your gear. If you need to signal for help, this will be heard much farther than your voice.

Insect Repellent

Carry a spray or lotion to protect yourself from biting insects, spiders, ticks and more. Many insects such as ticks can spread deadly disease, so be sure to protect yourself with an insect repellant that works well for the area you are hiking in.

Emergency Shelter

Even if you are not going on an overnight hike, you should still pack an emergency shelter. You may feel you will not get lost or injured, but it is best to be prepare for the unexpected. Something as simple as a space blanket or lightweight tarp can protect you from wind, rain, snow or sleet while you wait for help. You can find the Survival Shack on Amazon, it is lightweight, and expands into a huge 8′ by 5′ survival tent with room for 2.



Waterproof matches stored in a waterproof container can help you build a fire that will keep you warm if you are stranded or to use to signal for help. You should have a butane lighter as well as a backup.


A firestarter like some dry tinder, candles or special wood soaked nuggets should be kept in a waterproof bag, so that you can quickly get your fire to ignite. Even household dryer lint can be used.


A good knife and multi-tool are great to use for repairs, food prep, cutting branches or to use in emergency situations You can find all kinds of knives and multitools on


Pack extra food even on day hikes. Food items that are light, but have good nutritional value, are dried meats, nuts, protein bars and dried fruits.

Extra Clothing

Weather conditions can change rapidly, so pack an additional layer of clothing to protect yourself from the elements. Choose your clothing based on the season and the worst weather conditions you could face.