The hiking agenda is ready, but did you pack gear that’ll come in handy if something goes wrong?
While it’s unlikely, being prepared to stay out on the trails longer than you anticipated is a smart move, even if you only plan to be out for a few hours. A sprained ankle, inclement weather, or losing the trail while foraging for mushrooms could all spell arriving back at the trailhead later than expected.
These 10 essentials are all designed to help you out if something goes wrong. Today, even the National Park Service recommends packing the 10 essentials: navigation, sun protection, extra clothes, extra water, a first-aid kit, fire, nutrition, shelter, a knife, and a light source.
In addition to aiding in minor injuries, these supplies make it possible (though certainly not comfortable) to stay out overnight. In the case of hiking, being over-prepared is far better than being under prepared.
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Pack enough calories to last an extra day. If you actually need to eat these calories, you’re not gonna be firing up the camp stove to cook anything, which means this is the perfect situation for protein bars. RXBARs pack 12 grams of protein per bar and have around 210 calories in a wide variety of actually enjoyable flavors.
Designed for two hikers on a two-day hiking adventure, this first-aid kit outfits you with all the basics to help if one of you gets injured. From Moleskin for pesky blisters to antibiotic cream and ibuprofen, the Adventure Medical Mountain Series is neatly organized and labeled for several types of trail trauma.
Getting lost on the trail is no one’s idea of a good day. The Garmin inReach Mini allows you to check maps, weather, and send text messages through the Iridium network of satellites above. The bad news is you’ll also have to sign up for a service plan that costs $15 minimum.
One of our favorite water bottles is also incredibly affordable and fits the bill for packing along extra water while hiking. The Glossier Nalgene bottle holds 16 ounces of water with a narrow mouth, so you’re less likely to dump it all over yourself. Pair this with a Lifestraw for optimal filtration, and you’re ready for the wilderness.
Just because you’re packing survival gear doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish. The Nike ACG Bucket Hat comes in a quintessential outdoor green color while offering rain protection with Gore-Tex fabric. The wide brim keeps you shaded from the sun, and the cinch down chin-strap means you won’t have to run after it in windy conditions.
Every hiking kit should include a light source in case things go wrong and you find yourself hiking in the dark. Weighing less than 100 grams, the Petzl Tikkina headlamp comes with 250 lumens to light your path. It’s also water-resistant so wearing it during a downpour is fine, although we don’t recommend going for a night swim with it.
Arguably the most important essential in a well-outfitted hiking bag is a fire starter. This lightweight and compact firestarter from überleben (German for “to survive”) is easy to use and has a comfortable wooden handle for grip. With 15,000 strikes, the Zünden ferro stick produces a spark shower measuring 5,500F, which means wet conditions are no issue here.
While it looks like an orange garbage bag or the emergency blanket from your elementary school earthquake kit, the SOL Emergency Bivvy could spell survival. The bivvy keeps you warm and dry if you’re forced to spend an unexpected night in the wilderness. As a bonus, it comes with an emergency whistle if you need to signal for help.
Lightweight but packing tons of warmth with 800-down fill, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer hoody serves as an extra layer of warmth in case the unexpected happens. The jacket packs down exceptionally well, and it’s made with a ripstop outer material for durability, all while weighing under nine ounces. The hood addition also means you brought along a warm hat.
A universal and compact multi-tool can come in handy even if your hike goes exactly to plan. The Leatherman Squirt PS4 Keychain Multitool ticks all the boxes in what you’d want while hiking, including a knife, scissors, and pliers. This 9-in-1 multi-tool weighs a mere two ounces, so it’s not gonna tip the scales on your backpack’s weight.