Hiking equipment

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Main articles: Hiking and Backpacking (wilderness)
A winter bivouac in Germany.

Hiking equipment is the gear or equipment taken on an outdoor walking trip, usually on unpaved trails, or cross-country in the backcountry. The equipment used varies according to the duration, distance, planned activities, and the environment.

Hiking is usually divided into day hikes and backpacking trips, also known as walking tours, of two or more days. The distance affects the equipment because people usually do not want to carry as much equipment for longer distances due to weight considerations. Experts recommend total carrying weight be no greater that 25% of the hiker's weight.[1][2][3]

The environment is both the natural environment and the applicable government regulations; these often set the stage for planned activities. Nature has its beauty and fun activities, and the other side has the dangers, warnings, and cautions. Hikers plan accordingly when considering an equipment list.[4] To minimize the impact on the environment, many hikers follow the principles of "Leave No Trace."


Leather hiking boot (1982)

Hiking equipment may be considered in several categories.[5] [6]

  • Items Worn — Footwear, clothing, headgear, etc.
  • Carrying Items — Backpack, waist pack, hiking poles, or similar.
  • Food and drink — water, meals, snacks and emergency food.
  • Other gear that is essential for the hike safety or emergencies. (See also Survival kit).
  • Optional Items — Seating pads, cameras, notebooks, hammocks, electronic devices.
A modern backpack

Essential worn items[edit]

The choice of clothing will be based on the expected weather, temperature, and demands of the particular hike.

  • Footwear — This depends on the terrain: heavy waterproof boots with soles with a thick profile and high heels for rugged and mountainous country and light trainers for easier walks.[7] Spare hiking socks on multi-day excursions.
  • Clothes — Wicking clothing, including one complete change.
  • Wind and rain proofed jacket or parka.
  • Rain pants.
  • Hat
  • Scarf
  • Gloves

Possible additions[edit]

Other essentials[edit]

Day hike[edit]

  • Food, high-energy snack food.
  • Flashlight (torch in the UK) depending on time of year and length of walk (plus spare batteries and bulb).
  • Maps (detailed)
  • Compass
  • First aid kit, including nail scissors and waterproof blister pads.
  • Water (several litres in hot weather).
  • Plastic bags, to keep things dry.
  • Sun cream and sun glasses
  • Survival bag, or space blanket
  • Emergency whistle and knowledge of the code: One blast = STOP; Two blasts = COME TO ME; Three blasts = COME TO ME QUICKLY!

Additional items for backpacking[edit]

  • Food for meals, preferably with a low water content. Also high energy snack food and additional (and separate) emergency food.
  • Pocket knife, possibly with a tin opener and a saw, or multi-tool (similar but with pliers in addition).
  • Waterproof matches or a lighter, and possibly a flint or firesteel, which work, even when wet.
  • Tinder to start a fire.
  • Candles
  • Water purification tablets and/or filter.
  • Insect repellent
  • Sleeping pad or mat
  • Sleeping bag (and/or liner).
  • Bivvy bag
  • Plastic bags of various types and sizes to keep things dry, including ziploc bags. A garbage bag to line the backpack.
  • Toothbrush, etc.
Also worth considering[edit]
A U.S. Marine signalling an aircraft with a signal mirror.
  • Tent and/or ground sheet — the sheet (plus a rope) can be a simple substitute for a tent.
  • Cooking pot or billy.
  • Portable camping stove and fuel.
  • Eating utensils.
  • Trowel — for various purposes, e.g. to dig a cathole.
  • Small Axe or Hatchet.
  • Rain proof cover for pack.
  • Hammock
  • Pillow, preferably inflatable (possibly neck pillow), or use clothes or backpack.
  • Mosquito net
  • Twine/String — for all sorts of purposes.
  • Rope — various lengths and girths, for various purposes, e.g. Parachute cord. Maybe also (copper) wire.
  • Fishing line and fish hooks —
  • Machete — for use off the beaten track, if there is thick vegetation.
  • Cyanoacrylate or Super Glue
  • Towel
  • Sarong, shawl or other large cloth or handkerchief. Used for various purposes.
  • Soap and shampoo (bio-degradable)
  • Sewing kit, with nail scissors or possibly a scalpel.
  • Heliograph — a mirror with a hole in it for signalling airplanes.
  • GPS — A lightweight yet rugged and waterproof model with a long battery life, memory for topographical maps, base map ability (so you can drive to the trail) plus the ability to store notes.
  • Earplugs
  • Elastic bands
  • Gaffer tape — for quick repairs.
  • Notebook and pen or pencil
  • Radio
  • Binoculars
  • Camera plus spare batteries and film/memory card.
  • Waterproofing for boots.
  • Toilet paper, or paper napkins
  • Tweezers (if not already in pocket knife)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ How heavy should your pack be? Willis's Walkabouts. Millner NT, Australia.
  2. ^ How to Pack a Backpack: Learn how to correctly load your pack for your next outing. How to Pack a Backpacking Backpack." Wild Backpacker.
  3. ^ The Ideal Backpack Weight. Jeff Alt.
  4. ^ Lundin, Cody (June 23, 2003). 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive. Gibbs Smith. ISBN 978-1586852344. 
  5. ^ [1] Suggested list for a backpacking trip
  6. ^ [2] Lake District National Park: Check list for walkers.
  7. ^ a b [3] British Mountaineering Council: New Hill Walkers.