Even if you are an experienced hiker it is super easy to forget something that you really need. This is our ultimate hiking packing list. Post it on your wall, and check off these key items before you hit the trails!
Different hikes call for different gear and hiking clothing. You can use this complete hiking packing list as a starting point to create a day hike packing list, or for longer hiking trips like overnight hikes, weekend hikes, multi-day backpacking trips, and thru-hikes. Simply add or subtract items from your pack depending on how long you will be out on the hiking trails.
The Ultimate Hiking Packing List
The first thing you are going to need is a variety of bags to organize your hiking gear and clothing.
- Backpack (40-70 liters)
- Day pack (up to 30 liters)
- Pack cover or liner (for hiking in the rain or snow hikes)
- Packing cubes
- Dry bag
- Ziplock bags
Shelter and sleeping gear
- Tent or camping hammock
- Tarp or tent foot print
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping bag liner
- Sleeping pad
Food + Drink
Next, it’s time to think about what will keep you powered up. Bring a variety of hiking food and hiking snacks if you are going to be out on the trails for longer periods of time. More options make eating more interesting. Okay, this is what you need:
- Meals (plan by the number of days of your trip)
- Snacks (energy bars, nuts, chips, etc.)
- Beverages (coffee, tea, powdered drinks)
- Water supply (bring what you can)
- Water bottles or water bladders
- Water treatment device
Your outdoor kitchen (cooking gear)
Heading out for a multi-day hike or backpacking adventure? Then you will need to bring along some gear to prepare your meals.
- Backpacking stove and fuel
- Matches and lighters
- Cookware set (pots and pans)
- Dinnerware set (plates, bowls)
- Utensils (for eating and cooking)
- Biodegradable dish soap
- Steel wool and sponge
- Coffee maker (mini Bialetti or titanium french press)
If you are going to get the Bialetti (do, they rule), get the one we recommend with the extra rubber gaskets and filter plates. They will break down eventually, and nobody wants a situation where they can’t make coffee, correct? Indeed, indeed.
Whether you are out on a day hike or extended hiking or backpacking trip, hiking navigation gear is super important. Nobody wants to get lost, right?
This is what you should have in your arsenal:
First, check out our guide to hiking clothes for a complete overview. It covers everything you should have in your closet for all seasons of hiking.
Warm weather clothing
During the summer or hot climates staying cool will retain your energy and comfort.
- Wicking hiking shirt or t-shirt
- Hiking/trekking pants and/or hiking shorts
- Wicking underwear
- Hiking hat
Cold weather clothing
In the winter or cold climates, you must stay warm to avoid hypothermia. Make sure to bring a collection of layers that you can add or remove to maintain a comfortable body temperature.
- Wicking base layer (long sleeve shirt )
- Wicking leggings or long underwear
- Fleece jacket or vest
- Synthetic or down jacket
- Winter hiking pants
- Wool hat, beanie, or balaclava
- Face mask (for extreme cold and wind)
Rain protection for wet weather
At some point, it could rain, and you must stay dry. Get high-quality rain gear for your hiking adventures. Staying dry could save your life. In some hiking destinations (such as the Pacific North West), you may be hiking in the rain for days. In other climates, like here in Colorado, rain and thunderstorms can suddenly appear in the high country during Summer months. Be prepared!
- Rain jacket and rain pants(waterproof/windproof)
- Waterproof gloves
- Rain hat (with large brim)
Be sure to check out our guide to hiking in the rain for more on wet weather hiking.
Before you hit the trails, make sure you have appropriate hiking footwear.
- Hiking boots (men, women) or hiking shoes (men, women)
- Hiking sandals
- Hiking socks (once you try them you will love them)
- Microspikes (for snow and ice)
Safety gear for hiking
Safety for you and your hiking party is essential. Make sure you are fully prepared for the worst-case scenario. Brush up on your first aid skills so you know how to take care of yourself or a fellow hiker. Super important. Devise an emergency plan. Next, get the right gear and understand how to use it before you go hiking. Also, be sure to review out the ten essentials of hiking.
- Emergency communication device
- Personal locator beacon
- Cell phone
- Survival bracelet
- Extra days worth of food
- First aid kit
- Sun protection (sunblock/sunscreen, sunglasses)
- Bear spray
- Trekking poles (for long hikes, backpacking, thru-hikes)
- Hiking knife or multi-tool
- Parts for stove
- Spare batteries for electronics
- Solar charger
- Towel and face cloth
- Tooth brush and toothpaste
- Biodegradable soap
- Skin moisturizer
- Lip balm
- Toilet paper
- Trowel aka mini shovel
- Insect repellant
- Pen and paper
- ID or Passport
- Money (cash and coins), ATM/credit cards
- Trip itinerary left with family/friends
There you have it, the ultimate hiking packing list. Never forget a key item again.