The ‘Ten Essentials’ to Pack for Every Hiking Trip - aZengear
Healthy Lifestyles

The ‘Ten Essentials’ to Pack for Every Hiking Trip

by Emily Jannet on Nov 16, 2022

Every country has its own official and semi-official outdoor health and safety bodies. In the United States, one of the most prominent is the American Hiking Society. The self-proclaimed “national voice for America’s hikers”, the American Hiking Society promotes safe, responsible, and enjoyable hiking across North America.

Along with providing a wealth of helpful resources and FAQ for hikers, the AHS also offers a ‘Ten Essentials’ list for safe and enjoyable hiking. A list which has become the backbone of the responsible hiker’s packing list, and should be heeded by anyone heading out and about.

Whether planning a hiking trip in the USA, the UK, the EU or anywhere else, these are the ‘Ten Essentials’ the American Hiking Society recommends taking along for the ride:

  1. Appropriate Footwear

First up, appropriate footwear means well-fitting shoes or boots that are suitable for the terrain and conditions you will be tackling. For obvious reasons, a lightweight pair of summer walking boots is not going to make the grade for a challenging winter’s hike. Ideally, you should be looking at setting yourself up with several pairs of hiking boots and calf support sleeves for different seasonal conditions.

  1. Map and Compass/GPS

A traditional compass should be seen as mandatory, given how mobile phones and GPS devices cannot always be relied on in the wild. The same can also be said for a map and/or guidebook, which is never going to let you down due to a shortage of power. Of course, learning how to use a map and compass properly is also essential.

  1. Water

As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended to take along at least half of the water for every hour you intend to hike. Of course, this is entirely dependent on the intensity of your hike, and the weather conditions at the time. On longer hikes, you will need to plan for the availability of water along the way, and how to purify it for drinking if necessary.

  1. Food

Super-lightweight dehydrated camping meals are great, but rarely deliver the same slow-release energy as calorie-dense whole foods. Examples of which include chocolate, nuts, avocados and so on, which are worth taking along for the ride (if you can accommodate them).

  1. Rain Gear & Dry-Fast Layers

You cannot (and therefore should not) rely on any weather forecast as accurate.  Things can change quickly when out on the trail, so you need to pack for all weather conditions. Dressing in layers you can adjust to suit the weather at the time is the way to go, as is wearing moisture-wicking items that will keep you comfortable.

  1. Safety Items

The basic safety items you should never be without include something to help you start an emergency fire, a loud whistle to attract attention, and a light of some kind so that you can see in the dark.

  1. First Aid Kit

Likewise, it is never advisable to head out on any hike without the most basic first-aid provisions. If you plan on hiking on a regular basis, you should also take the time to take a basic first aid and CPR course (usually offered 100% free of charge).

  1. Knife or Multi-Tool

A reliable multi-tool can be worth its weight in gold, should you find yourself in a bind. Multi-tools that can be worn (rather than carried) can be super-convenient, combining a whole bunch of convenient essentials into one lightweight accessory.

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  1. Sun Protection

Often overlooked but essential nonetheless, sun protection is an absolute must. Throughout all four seasons, you should always ensure your pack contains sunscreen, sunglasses, and sun-protective clothing. Remember that even in cold and cloudy conditions, you could still succumb to harm from the sun’s rays.

  1. Shelter/Protection

Last up, some form of emergency protection should be kept in your pack at all times, in case you find yourself injured or stranded. When things take a turn for the worse, something as simple as a lightweight blanket could keep you safe and warm while waiting for help.