9 Things to Always Keep in Your Hiking Backpack

9 Things to Always Keep in Your Hiking Backpack

Hiking enthusiasts will argue that the best way to really explore any region of the world is on foot. The slower pace allows you to savor the sights, pay attention to more details, and get to know the area like a local would.

Every hiker has their own special list of things they can’t do without, whether on the trail or hiking through the cities and towns of Europe. Though each trip you take may call for a different set of supplies, there are some basics you should pack no matter where you are going or how long you will be gone. The following list is not all-encompassing, but it gives you a basic idea of where to start:

1. Ways to Hydrate

Required supplies will vary depending on the duration and intensity, as well as the environment and temperature of your hike. However, you will need to make sure you stay hydrated the whole time.

If you are just going out to the woods for the day, then fill a water bottle and keep an eye out for opportunities to refill. More strenuous and longer trips may require you to bring along electrolyte supplements or even a water filtration device.

2. Pain Treatments

Some hikes are more punishing than others, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared for endurance. Always make sure you have fast, effective pain treatments—so you can spend more time thinking about the amazing view from the top of Pikes Peak than about your aching feet.

Professional and Olympic athletes have been turning to CBD lately, for fast-acting, natural relief that reduces pain and inflammation when they need to endure with their training. CBD cream provides the quickest route to soothing sore muscles, and it will help you push through your trip with less pain and more awe.

3. Paper Maps

Even though cell service is getting better and better, you can’t always rely on your cell phone to get you where you need to be. If you are out on the trail and your service goes out, your battery dies, or a bear steals your phone and runs, you don’t want to be lost in the woods with no map.

Take a paper map with you so you can be sure to find your way on the trail even without Google Maps to help you out in a pinch.

4. A Compass

Having a paper map of your trail is not likely to help you much without major landmarks or a compass. Make sure you have one and know how to use it if there is a chance that you could get lost in the woods on the trails you intend to use.

5. Emergency Signaling Device

Okay so you dropped your phone into a gorge, and you aren’t actually the best at reading paper maps or using a compass. Time to use your emergency signaling device so your search party can find you!

Emergency flare sticks and flare guns are unsafe to use on the trail, but there are plenty of modern devices that can help you get yourself found in case of being injured or lost. You want to make your choice based on the type of landscape in which you will be hiking, as well as the amount of weight you can tolerate.

6. Identification

Thousands of people enjoy a successful, injury-free hiking trip every year, but it’s a good idea to keep your ID on you wherever you go, whether it’s the forest, the desert, the swamp, or the concrete jungle.

7. Sunscreen

It doesn’t matter if you are hiking in the snow or in the sand, you need to have protection from the sun when you are out on the trail. Spending time in the deep shade of the forest will help you stay out of damaging UV rays; but sand and sun are reflective, exposing you to double the rays from above and below, and you never know when your trail will take you through a sunny meadow for miles.

8. First Aid

Everyone appreciates the person who came prepared for anything, and band-aids should be included in any well-prepared backpack. You can generally find pre-packaged first aid kits, or find guidance on building your own first aid kit for hiking. When you build your own, you can customize it for where you will be traveling. A minimal kit will include band-aids, medical tape, gauze, antibiotic ointment, and disinfectant; but your location will dictate some of the other things you take with you.

9. Flashlight or Headlamp

You may not intend to be spending the night out on the trail, but you want to take a light source and extra batteries with you just in case. Getting stuck in the dark without a way to light your path is dangerous, and the sun can drop behind the hills with a surprising suddenness—particularly in mountainous regions of the world. Make sure you are ready, with a bright led flashlight or a headlamp for safe, hands-free illumination.


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