8 Things Every Adventurer Should Pack in Their Hiking & Camping Bag

We are fortunate to live in a world full of breathtaking natural spaces that we have a chance to hike and explore. Escaping to nature for your next vacation is a great way to get away from the noise and the havoc of modern life. That being said, you need to pack carefully and purposefully for your next trip.

Have you ever been completely isolated in the wilderness and needed something that you forgot to pack? Or maybe it was something that you didn’t even think about packing in the first place. There’s nothing scarier than being caught alone, in the wild and without the tools to survive.

Whether you’re young, lighthearted and free-spirited, or older, wiser and more experienced, it’s critical to plan for a hiking trip, camping trip, or general outdoor adventure.    

Most times this isn’t the case, but once in a while, not having packed your bag with the proper advanced planning may be a matter of life and death. (Or at least the difference between an enjoyable trip and a really uncomfortable trip).

In this article you will learn about the eight things that every adventure lover should pack before going hiking or camping. Here’s your day hike checklist.

1. The bag

So, before you can pack your bag, you need to have a bag, and choosing the right bag is one of the most important parts of preparing for an outdoor trip.

Anyone who has ever been hiking and had to carry a bag on their back knows the importance of a good fit, adjustable straps and padding in the right places. Sure, you might try a pack on for a few minutes and of course it feels comfortable. But before taking your pack with you on a long haul, you need to test it out on shorter hikes to make sure it is up to the challenge.

Remember—any discomfort you feel on shorter hikes will amplify exponentially during longer trips.

When choosing the right backpack or daypack, some things you should look for:

  • Breathable material
  • Waterproof
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Easy access
  • Organization options

2. The clothes

It is extremely important that you bring the necessary clothing with you. Check the forecast beforehand and see what Mother Nature plans to bring your way. Is it going to be cold? Rainy? Bring a jacket even if you don’t think you need one, especially a waterproof jacket.

If you are in the market for a jacket, in can be hard to know what to look for. As a rule, the best women’s waterproof jackets will be hard-wearing, and yet still be plenty flexible. Also, think taped seams, a lined chin guard and Velcro wrists. The best men’s jackets should follow the same criteria. Also pack a pair of sunglasses; even if you are hiking somewhere that tends to be cold and wet, a high sun can get in your eyes and make a walk feel like torture, so it is worth packing a decent pair of Ray Ban glasses or similar.

And don’t forget to bring lots of socks. There is nothing worse than suffering through with wet feet.

Here are some essential clothing items you’ll want to make sure you’ve got packed:

Moisture-wicking underwear

Moisture-wicking T-shirt

Quick-drying pants

Long-sleeve shirt

Lightweight fleece or jacket

Socks (synthetic or wool)

3. Water bottle

This should probably actually be at the top of the list, because if you don’t have access to water, you won’t need any of the other things you packed.

You know the deal, when you are hiking your body dehydrates quicker due to increased production by your sweat glands. This goes for when it’s cold out too!

You should always carry a water bottle with you and make sure to refill it at every opportunity at natural sources of water.

If you care about the environment, and of course you do, you should make sure to invest in a quality reusable water bottle, that won’t break easily, like Nalgene water bottles; originally made for rock climbers.

There are some great refillable water bottles out there. And not only will a good water bottle keep you hydrated, but you’ll be saving your natural environment from tons of plastic garbage and litter.

4. Hiking boots

Similar to the water—you won’t be getting very far without a good pair of hiking boots. In fact, this is probably the most important piece of gear (besides water) that you can bring with you on your trip. There is no shame in spending a lot of money on a quality pair of boots.

Many hikers believe that the comfort and protection offered by quality hiking boots makes them far more important than any other hiking gear. You want to make sure that your boots include the following factors:

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Sturdy
  • Warm
  • Waterproof
  • Ankle protection
  • Good grip

5. Snacks

Hiking can be quite strenuous and requires a lot of energy. Make sure you bring snacks with you to munch on every once in a while. Some good things to bring include:

  • Candy bars
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Energy bars

These foods are tasty and full of protein, carbs and fiber, and don’t take up too much space. Additionally, hiking is no time to be starting a diet, so don’t worry about limiting carbs, sugar and fat intake (unless you have a medical condition that requires you to do so.) You’ll need all those things to give you energy.

6. Swiss knife

Not only will it give you hipster cred these days, a Swiss Knife or other multipurpose knife can get you out of all sorts of trouble. And lately these guys have been upgraded to keep up with the modern world. A multi-tool knife can help with:

  • Preparing food: Use your knife for peeling fruit, opening food packages and cutting meat.
  • Preparing fires: In the case of wet situations, you can make tinder by shaving wood. If you use a ferrocium rod to start a fire, you can use your knife as a striker.
  • Cutting cord: If you’re an experienced trekker/camper, you probably carry several types of cord with you for campsite tasks, such as bear bagging, rigging a tarp and making clothes lines. When working with cord, knots can become stuck and must be cut.
  • First aid: Cutting gauze to cover a wound.

You won’t know what kind of trouble you might get into and need your knife for until it happens to you, so make sure to pack one just in case.

7. Flashlight

So, news flash: There’s no electricity in the wilderness. This is great for unplugging from the chaos of the the modern world, but not so great if it’s nighttime and you need visibility.

You never know if you’ll get lost on a hike and night will fall before you have a change to make it back to your campground. Especially if you are on rugged terrain. Imagine trying to make your way back to camp while crossing a glacier or a mountain, filled with deep crevasses. It’s scary to think about, but a flashlight might just save your life.

8. Map

You may wish to harness the spirit of Robert Frost and head down The Road Not Taken, but you should really plan where you are going in advance. And you should also have a hard copy of a map with you.

Sure your cell phone probably has GPS, but your phone might get lost, damaged or run out of battery. Also, Google Maps doesn’t know everything. So, trust the actual map.

This is a more serious issue than you are probably thinking, in fact, according to National Geographic, in a study of news reports done over the last 25 years, 42% of hikers who got lost for long periods of time, did so by accidentally straying from the trail.

These items are not listed in order from most important to least important or vice versa. It’s true that some things, like food and water are essential for staying alive, but you won’t get very far with an uncomfortable backpack and poor quality boots.

In reality, there are tons of things that could and should be on your packing list, but these eight items should be a base from which you can add on.

Stay safe and happy trails, and if you’re looking for some ideas on where to go, why don’t you check out some of the best hiking trails in the world, according to Nat Geo, or some great beginner peaks for mountain climbing?

This is a contributed post.