The Ten Essentials of Hiking

Ten Things You Should Bring on Every Hike

Jasper Van Der Meij

American Hiking Society recommends everyone pack the “Ten Essentials” every time you head out for a hike. Whether you plan to be gone for a couple of hours or several months, make sure to pack these items. Become familiar with these items and know how to use them.

The Ten Essentials

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Appropriate Footwear

Happy feet make for pleasant hiking. Think about traction, support, and protection when selecting well-fitting shoes or boots.

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Map and Compass/GPS

While phones and GPS units are handy, they aren’t always reliable in the backcountry; consider carrying a paper map and compass as a backup and know how to use them.

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(and a way to purify it)

As a guideline, plan for half a liter of water per hour in moderate temperatures/terrain. Carry enough water for your trip and know where and how to treat water while you’re out on the trail.

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Pack calorie-dense foods to help fuel your hike, and carry an extra portion in case you are out longer than expected.

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Rain Gear & Dry-Fast Layers

The weather forecaster is not always right. Dress in layers to adjust to changing weather and activity levels. Wear moisture-wicking items and carry a warm hat.

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Safety Items

(light, fire, and a whistle)

Have means to start an emergency fire, signal for help, and see the trail and your map in the dark.

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First Aid Kit

Supplies to treat illness or injury are only as helpful as your knowledge of how to use them. Take a class to gain the skills needed to administer first aid and CPR.

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Knife or Multi-Tool

With countless uses, a multi-tool can help with gear repair and first aid.

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Sun Protection

Sunscreen, sunglasses, and sun-protective clothing should be used in every season regardless of temperature or cloud cover.

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Protection from the elements in the event you are injured or stranded is necessary. A lightweight, inexpensive space blanket is a great option.


Trash Bag

Pack this 11th essential to making sure that the trails you love stay beautiful for generations to come. A ziplock bag is a great option for keeping the trash you pick up along the trail separate from the rest of your gear. Level up by including a pair of disposable gloves to use when picking up less-pleasant litter.

Related Hiking Resources

Samuel Scrimshaw

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