Planning a trip into the wilderness and not sure what you should take with yourself?
Check out my list of must have gear that I take with me on every hiking trip.
Working as an outdoor instructor I have quickly learnt to take only the things I really need on trips. Reason being first of all I only have limited space in my back pack but I also like to keep my bag as light as possible. Below you will find the list of things that I won’t go hiking without, let me know in the comments section what you think of my list and if you agree with it. If you have any suggestions please also type them up into the comments. Also to help you out with your packing check out my Camping Checklist which will send you an email of the things you require to pack for yourself. Follow the link in the menu at the top of this page.
1. Toothpaste + toothbrush – I know many hikers take a toothbrush and cut it down to a smaller
size to save the extra 10 – 20g but in all honesty I am more happy to carry the weight as it just makes the job to brush teeth in the morning that much easier. I use a tooth paste called EarthPaste as I find it to be the only toothpaste I used so far that I can brush my teeth with and then not bother rinsing my mouth out with water. All natural and after only using one tube of it I found my teeth to be super clean and even whiter by a few shades.
2. Sunscreen – I don’t use sunscreen very often but whenever I find myself doing water activities I apply like there is no tomorrow. From my own experience as a lifeguard on sunny days and while in the water my skin would get super burnt very quickly. Let’s face it it’s not heavy and might as well carry it around just in case there is a need for it.
3. Hand Sanitizer – As you go hiking you will find your hands seem to get super dirty and eating food with dirt on them might not be the most hygienic, personally I use water and sand to wash my hands but I also keep a hand sanitizer on myself at all times as well. This is just in the instance I have no access to clean water and need to get a good scrub in.
4. Broad Brimmed Hat – Well These days I find myself always wearing a hat, for obvious
reasons but the wider the brim the more skin it protects and for me its important to not get sunburn as it not only looks unprofessional for an outdoor professional to be burnt but also I don’t want my skin looking like leather in the future. I purchase hemp hats because they look cool but also can be folded up and packed away nice and easily.
5. Rope – I find rope to be the most useful piece of gear that I take out with me on camp. First of
all you can use it to play heaps of games and initiatives but also you can use it to set up your shelters, tie things together and pretty much your imagination is the only thing stopping you from using rope in any way you need. Rope is so versatile. I carry 30m of high visibility rope with myself and paracord for rope that is strong but does not take up much room in my bag .
6. Back pack – Probably the most important piece of gear that you should really look at investing some decent money into to. After all you will be carrying it on your back for hours upon time. You want something that will fit you properly and have a really comfortable harness that will make carrying your backpack a breeze. Keep in mind there are many different sizes for both men and women. Do your research and when you look at buying a bag place weights into it to make sure that it actually works well with you before buying it. I have a Mont Flyte and I can’t fault it. It’s durable, compact 75L and the harness makes it feel as if everything is just floating on my back.
7. Shelter – If you are planning on going out for overnight expeditions you will have to really think about getting a shelter. There are heaps of different types of shelters ranging from tarps, tents to waterproof linings for your sleeping bags. It’s going to be up to you to decide how much weight you want to carry and how much comfort you want included during the trip. I personally carry a 2 person tent which has enough room for myself, my mattress and a bit of my gear on the inside to keep it safe. At the same time it only weight 1.5kg which I would consider to be very lightweight.
8. Knife – I never used to carry a knife when I went out into the wilderness but since I have
purchased a leatherman Skeletool I can’t imagine going back to not having one. I always take it with me not for protection but just the fact that I can use it for so many things (rope cutting, . Best of all, with the skeletool I can clip it onto my pack and its really easily accessible.
9. Water Container – Bottle’s are great, easy to fill up and you can carry multiples so you keep tabs on how many liters you have remaining. On the other hand there are plenty of camelbacks out there which make it super easy to store large amounts of water, plus make it easily accessible through a tube which you can hook up to the outside of you bag to continually sip on water while walking. I think this is great because I find myself constantly drinking water and by doing so I stay hydrated. On the other hand I sometimes go through 6L of water without really realizing it because its just so easy to keep drinking water. I purchased a MSR Dromedary which I find to be tough and perfect for all the things I require it for.
10. Food Container + Spoon – When going camping or hiking on my own I like to take a bowl that I can also use as a cooking utensil. For example a small pan or a pot. This means I can not only eat food out of it but also, boil water and cook my food all in one. As for the spoon, fork knife debate I always just take a spoon because I can use it for soups, all meals and if I need a knife I have my Leatherman.
11. Burner + Fuel – There are so many different types of burners out there which you can purchase, I find the best ones are the ones that take up barely any space and ones that work with mentholated spirits. My preference is mentholated spirits because they are affordable and you can buy large amounts of it for many camp trips. Plus you always know how much fuel you have on hand unlike prepackaged gas cylinders.
12. Lighter – A simple lighter usually does the trick, on the other hand I also carry fire starters to make it super easy to rock up at a campsite and get the fire started. If you are after some fire starter ideas check out my post about them here.
13. Thermals – Thermals are a must when going camping, I always go for merino wool, just
because it doesn’t smell and they look a lot better then most synthetic thermals. I always have thermals on hand just in case the nights get a bit colder and just sleeping in a sleeping bag is not enough. Also if you end up doing a water activity by you can quickly change into them as they dry very quickly and keep you warm.
13. Notebook + Pen – A notebook and pen can sometimes be the best things to bring on a solo trip through the wilderness. It’s amazing how many great ideas you come up with when you are left on your own with just your mind. The serenity and beauty of nature can truly inspire your creative side and after a few days you can easily end up writing a notebook full of interesting things.
14. Rain Jacket – Don’t go out without one. First of all if you get soaked you will have a bad time, secondly you will get soaked and thirdly it can be dangerous for you to be wet for longer periods of time as it will speed up hypothermia significantly. A great jacket is one that is small, very waterproof and has air vents to allow for your body to cool down and release your sweat from the inside. I like to always store my jacket in a very accessible place in my bag. After all its better to be prepared than rather digging to the bottom of your bag when you are getting soaked.
15. Sleeping Bag – If you are going for overnight expeditions make sure to get a good sleeping bag. You need to take into consideration if you are a warm or cold sleeper, if you are a female or male and also the temperatures that you are going to be subject to when hiking. Do the research and save yourself from having a sleepless night due to being overly cold.
16. Inner Sheet – You have a sleeping bag so why do you need an inner sheet? To keep you sleeping bag cleaner for longer, It’s amazing how much dirt ends up on the inside of the sleeping bag. Also by having the inner sheet you create layers which in turn make it even warmer for you to sleep in. I have a thermal liner which gives me a super toasty good nights sleep.
17. Sleeping Mat – I truly believe that the sleeping mat is the thing that will make you have a good nights sleep rather than a bad nights sleep. Reason being is that you will be more comfortable but also a lot of temperature from your body escapes into the ground. If you spend a whole night on the cold ground you will most likely wake up with stiff and painful joints. I have an exped mattress, Yes it weighs 1.5kg but when I take into consideration the amazing nights sleep I get from it it really becomes a no brainer. Find a mat that will work for you.
18. Hiking boots – Planning on walking for long distances? Make sure you have boots that are comfortable. If you just purchased them make sure you wear them in before the hiking trip so that you don’t have put up with blisters during the trip. If you have leather shoes and have no time to break them in use a hair dryer on them. Heat them up and stretch them back and forth to make them more flexible and comfortable for your feet.
19. Quick drying shirts and pants – Pretty self explanatory. You want shirts and pants that dry quickly. These days we have a whole array of incredible synthetics which make it super easy to choose the right ones. I always try to go with Merino wool ones because they not only don’t get as smelly but also are more comfortable to wear. One thing I make sure I don’t do is wear cotton shirts or clothes in general. Reason being is that they store moisture and don’t keep you warm when they get wet which in turn makes them dangerous as they can speed up Hypothermia.
20. Jumper – Fleece or wool jumpers are the best as they dry quickly and are warm. You could also look at investing in a puffy down jacket. Just make sure that the jacket is waterproofed as if the feathers get wet they can start to gather mold and in no time you puffy will be useless.
21. Camera and spare batteries – When you go out hiking you will find yourself coming across some incredible sighs, make sure you capture those moments so that in the future you can revisit the memories more easily. I always have spare batteries as I take plenty of photos. I like the Go Pro 4 as I find it to take amazing photos and its super compact.
22. Head Torch + Batteries – A head torch is in my opinion a better choice over just a torch, you can do so much more with a head torch. Plus these days they are so powerful you don’t really notice the difference. Research a head torch that is bright and has a long lasting battery life.
23. Dry Bags – Keeping your stuff dry is super important. I won’t go out camping without these, I store my tent inside a dry bag, I store my change of clothes, I store my sleeping bag and just to ensure that its 100% safe I store all that in another large dry bag. Seriously getting to camp and sleeping in a wet sleeping bag sucks and on top of that is dangerous again due to hypothermia. Invest in dry bags, if you can’t at least take many rubbish bags so you can wrap up all your gear.
24. Change of socks and underwear – I personally don’t change my socks for 4-5 days but in saying that I know many people that love the feeling of fresh socks on a daily basis. So make sure to have at least a spare change so that you can put them on when you need to. Also a great idea is to have bed socks so that if your feet get cold during the night you can keep them warm, in fresh toasty socks. As for underwear I take a pair but free balling is my preference. Take the amount you need and if possible make sure they are not cotton. Again if they get wet they will make your groin cold plus major arteries which run down your legs will be affected by cold. Making you feel more miserable faster and also speed up Hypothermia.
25. Map and Compass – These are must have items, a GPS just doesn’t 100% cut it, what happens if for no apparent reason it stops working and you are in the middle of the forest. That is when a map and compass become your best friend. It’s one thing to take it out but also make sure you learn how to navigate effectively as well. A map and Compass are only as good as your navigation skills are. Check out my post on some Advanced Navigation Skills here and practice them before going out into the wilderness.
26. Toiler Paper and shovel – As much fun as it is trying out different types of leaves to wipe your butt it is also dangerous if you don’t know what plants are what. Grab a few TP (toiletpaper) rolls with you and wrap them up in some bags to make sure they don’t get wet. Nothing worse then needing to go to the bathroom and having mushy paper to wipe your butt with. Also grab a shovel so that you can bury your Poo and paper underground so that animals don’t decide to snack on what your body digested.
27. First Aid Kit – The first aid kit is like your insurance, you will carry it around with you for
heaps of trips and one day if something happens you will be 100% happy that you brought it along with you. One with basic necessities is usually all I need but I sometimes will change it dependent on the areas I go hiking in, ones with more water, colder places, snakes etc.
- broad brimmed hat
- food container + spoon
- Burner + fuel
- Notebook + Pen
- Rain Jacket
- Sleeping Bag
- Inner Sheet
- Sleeping Mat
- Hiking boots
- Quick drying shirt and pants
- toothpaste + toothbrush
- head torch + spare batteries
- Dry Bags
- Change of socks
- Change of underwear
- map + compass
- Hand Sanitizer
- Toilet paper + shovel
- First Aid Kit
So that is my list of things I carry with me whenever I go hiking, It may seem like a big list but I easily fit it all in my 75L pack. It ends up weighing in at around 15-20 kg depending on how much water and food I take along with myself. I do constantly look at reducing the weight of my pack but the only way I could do that is if I start purchasing lighter gear.
To help you with you packing check out my Camping Checklist which will provide you with a tick and flick document which you can send to yourself. Just click the link in the menu at the top of this page.
What do you think of my list? Have I forgotten something? What do you take with you that is super important for you? Write it down in the comments below and as usual don’t forget to follow me and share this post on facebook and twitter.