With temperatures finally warming up, it’s no surprise to see that more and more people are looking for ways to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer — like going hiking. While hiking is a fun way to enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors, it’s a sport that requires the right equipment, like most activities. Whether you’re a casual explorer or someone who loves to challenge themselves with a rigorous expedition, having the right hiking gear is vital to ensuring a successful (and stress-free) trek. There are a handful of must-haves most people are aware of: food, water, a first aid kit , and the right shoes. But when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, there are a couple of other items to keep handy in the woods.
Below, check out 12 hiking essentials you’ll want to have on hand for your next adventure.
Every good hiking trip starts with a good backpack, and it's hard to beat the beloved Osprey Daylite . So what makes it so special? This lightweight bag features a compact design made with water-resistant fabric, breathable Spacer Mesh shoulder support, and a front organizer pocket to keep all of your essentials within reach. The best part? It's can also hold an Osprey Hydraulics water reservoir for convenient extra water storage.
Everyone knows how important it is to have a water bottle on hand during a hike, but the Katadyn BeFree isn't any old water bottle. This one is collapsible and designed to fit in any bag. It also comes with a filter so you can safely drink from any water source around you.
We know it's a pricey pick, but hear us out — the Garmin Instinct GPS watch is a best-seller for a reason. Designed to make navigating any terrain a breeze, this watch features a built-in axis compass, barometric altimeter, and GPS support. There's also heart rate monitoring, a 14-day battery life, and a trackback feature that allows you to navigate the same route back to your starting point.
Flashlights are a classic, but they also leave you one hand down. For a hands-free light source, a headlamp like this rechargeable BioLite option is the way to go. You'll never want to hike without it.
Every hiker needs a good sunscreen in their kit to protect themselves from the sun's harmful rays. This Banana Boat one is made with SPF 100, making it perfect for a day spent outdoors. It'll also keep you protected no matter how much you sweat.
Second only to sunscreen is a reliable pair of sunglasses. Whether it's to protect against the sun in the summer or to prevent snow blindness in the winter, a pair of polarized sunglasses should be in your hiking bag at all time. We love this Jojen pair . Not only are they super stylish, but they also offer a non-slip fit alongside 100 percent protection from the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays.
Sure, your favorite dad hat will suffice, but when it comes to hiking, a hat that offers 360-degrees of sun protection is the one you'll want to wear on your trek. This hat from Columbia will keep your face and neck from getting burned. It also reduces sweat, thanks to its moisture-wicking Omni-wick fabric, UPF 50 sun protection, and mesh vent to keep you cool. Plus, it's also adjustable with a quick pull of the toggle drawcord.
The Buff is the hiking essential you've (likely) never heard of. Serving as a face mask, neck gaiter, and headband, this headpiece uses cooling technology to keep your temperature stable while the UPF 50+ fabric offers unbeatable sun protection.
While many may find a set of trekking poles unnecessary, hikers with bad knees will tell you otherwise. Designed to reduce impact on knees while also offering increased stability, trekking poles like this Black Diamond Trail pair are also great for uphill or downhill hikes where a stable hand is necessary.
You never know when a knife will come in handy. With over 28,000 reviews, the Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops knife is Amazon's favorite. We love that this knife is lightweight, durable, and has a serrated edge for tougher cuts. It also has a liner lock for added protection for your hands.
In emergency situations, having quick access to a warm fire can be crucial. This Icfun lighter is not only waterproof and windproof, but it's also rechargeable (meaning no gas or butane is required).
No hiker would be set without a proper first aid kit. Packing more than meets the eye, this compact first aid kit features a first aid guide, CPR mask, one emergency blanket, bandages, a tourniquet, medical scissors, tweezers, eye wash, gauze, antiseptic, prep pads, safety pins, and cotton applicators to address any injuries mid-hike.
Sarah M. Vazquez
Sarah writes about all things shopping for Apartment Therapy. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, Elle Decor, and PureWow, among others. In her free time, you can find her strumming away at her guitar, on the perpetual hunt for the coziest duvet, and enjoying Sundays in the park with Marty—that's her pup.