In early days of my travel, every time I went for hiking or trekking trip I used to forget one or the other thing. And why not? Being a novice hiker or trekker you are bound to make mistakes and forget some important things to carry on hiking or trekking trips. This is very usual especially with all the excitement overshadowing the preparations for such adventure trips 🙂 … In the last eight years or so, I have learned from my mistakes and now I carry at least some items which are important for any hiking or trekking trips without fail. Nowadays most of us no longer live much closer to nature and are used to the obvious availability of certain things in life. Hence, it is very important to understand and appreciate that when you are hiking or trekking a mountain, some obvious things may not be around you when you find yourself in a tricky situation.
I do not want you to be in the same spot in the middle of nowhere and wishing that if you had carried ‘something’, the situation would have been much better 😉 … In this article today, I am going to talk about a list of must-have things to carry on a hiking or trekking trip. In my travel experiences, each one of these items has helped me in one or other situation. In the last couple of years, some of them have proven to be more than useful and I am more than happy that I collected them for my hiking trekking trips based on one or other experiences 😀 😀 … By the way, I do not trek or hike much but I have hiked enough to appreciate the importance of these items as a novice or mediocre. I am sure pro-trekkers or pro-hikers may have more sophisticated lists of important items to carry. However, if you are starting your trekking or hiking trips and getting used to this hobby, this list will certainly help you quickly start the learning process.
List of Things to Carry on Hiking or Trekking Trip
Let’s check out first the most important items that we all must carry while going for a hiking or trekking trip. Your treks or hikes will become less worrisome to some extent when you don’t have to care about basic items of survival in temporary adverse conditions.
1. Water Bottle: A savior in many ways
No need to stress the fact that a water bottle is nothing but a very precious thing to have on any hiking or trekking trip. When you are hiking, your body dehydrates but most times due to cold or cool temperature, you do not realize you are sweating. Hence, sipping water from your bottle frequently will keep you hydrated. I have been to a couple of treks where I did forget to carry a water bottle only to curse myself in the middle of it. One bad experience was my trek to Chandratal Lake and the other one the Prashar Lake.
You should always carry a water bottle and refill it whenever you get a chance from natural streams. Buy a sturdy water bottle that does not leak or break by falls. I have been using these Contigo ones but you can also go with similar models from like Milton or Quechua ones available at Amazon or other e-commerce websites. It will not only keep you hydrated always but you will also help in saving the Himalayas from plastic garbage and carry not much load of water while trekking or hiking. Remember, every tiny step counts and you can help save the mountains keeping the plastic waste in check !!
2. Munching Items: Trail Mix, Dry Fruits, Chocolates or Energy Bars
When you are hiking or trekking, you lose energy much faster than you anticipate. Munching few things every now and then will keep your energy level optimum. I always carry a mix of items such as a pack of trail mix, some dry fruits or nuts, few chocolates like Snickers or you can carry some energy bars too. The advantage of carrying these munching items is that they take less space and easier to carry than too much of real food without worry about spillovers.
3. Daypack or Backpack – Travel Light & Organized
A good daypack or a backpack always helps you keep your things well organized on any hike or a trek. There is a wide variety of backpacks available. I own a couple of North Face backpacks and Quechua rucksacks which are quite comforting on my shoulders and balances the loads evenly. They also provide easy access to items and keep them organized better. I have used some cheap quality backpacks too in the past but always felt them either burdening or bruising. I will recommend investing in a good backpack or a daypack which will help you feel light and less sweaty on the back. A good backpack or daypack must protect your gear or items from at least light rain/snow and also provide easy access or organization of your items.
4. Trekking Shoes or Hiking Boots – Walk the talk on your Hike or Trek
I believe the quality, comfort, and protection offered by a good pair of trekking shoes or hiking boots far outweighs any other trekking or hiking gear you may have ever purchased. If you have started hiking or trekking or looking forward to it, I will highly recommend saving and investing money in a comfortable, lightweight, sturdy, warm and waterproof pair of hiking shoes providing good ankle protection and a firm grip on slippery surfaces. The waterproof factor shall not be ignored while purchasing a good pair of hiking boots as it can essentially prove an important factor in successful completion of your trek. I used to own Quechua Forclaz 500 Trekking Shoes but since this year I have also started using THE NORTH FACE THERMOBALL VERSA BOOTS. I will write a detailed article on this new pair in time to come when I use them more often in hikes. So, far they have held up the deal I got for them 🙂 …
5. Swiss Knife – A multi-purpose toolset
Well, you will be surprised to know that this little piece of handy toolset called Swiss Knife has proven to be handy in more situations than I remember now. It has proved very helpful in not just my hiking or trekking trips but for all kinds of trips. I own a Victorinox Huntsman Red Swiss Army Knife for last 6-7 years and it still works like a charm.
6. Torchlight or Flashlight – Find the way in dark
In case it gets late or dark while coming back from the day’s hike, a torchlight or flashlight can prove to be a lifesaver. I still remember the horrors of my trek to Triund and Laka Glacier where it got pitch black by the time we were a KM away from our camps. It proved to be a life-saving ordeal in the absence of torchlight.
Have you checked our comprehensive list of things to carry when you travel? If not, you can read about them in the article List of things to carry when you travel
7. Hand Sanitizer – Kills the unwanted germs
Your hands will keep coming in contact with unwanted spots either by falling or climbing or looking for support when you are on a hike or a trek. Hand sanitizers will help keep a check on germs and help reduce the probability of getting sick while on a multi-day trek or after coming back from a day’s hike on the nearby trail. Since I got infected on my Spiti Valley trip in 2014, I always carry hand sanitizer on all my trips. I use it often enough now even for no reason at times 😉 …
8. Trek Pants or Trousers – Feel the comfort
Similar to a good pair of trekking shoes, I believe that one must own a comfortable, breathable, cargo styled and quick dry trek pants or trousers (preferably). In case you are planning on snow trek, you can opt for trek pants which offer built-in gaiters to get required snow protection. Quick dry capabilities prove very satisfying in the situations of crossing water streams. Also, a good number pockets on cargo styled trek pants help keep other things like eateries, swiss knife, etc.. handy for you while you hike.
9. Cap or Hat – Get in the shade
Whenever hiking or trekking in open, you should always protect yourself from the direct exposure of skin to the sun. Sometimes the sunburn can be really bad and if you are too much into hiking and trekking then buying a cap or hat will help you in a long way.
10. Sunscreen, Sunblocks, and Lipbalms – Prevent the sunburns
You must protect yourself from UV rays and direct sunlight, especially while traveling or trekking/hiking in places in Ladakh or Spiti Valley where the intensity of sun rays are far more impacting than normal cities. I always use sunscreens with SPF 70 or more as I have seen some really bad cases of sunburns which proved very painful for quite a few days after the trip. You can also carry lip balms with SPF rating to protect lips getting sunburn.
11. Trek Route or Map – Don’t get lost
You should always keep a hard copy of the map of your trekking trail or route. We know cell phones have GPS but many times you will find yourself a spot where these phones do not work or run out of battery. This especially true for the long-running hikes or treks. A dedicated GPS device with trail map loaded will still be worthy when it comes to gadgets but a hard copy may always prove to be contingency plan just in case you run out of luck 😉 …
12. Medical Kit or First-aid Kit – Helps patch up basic health issues
Last but not the least, you must carry basic medical kit with creams for burns, bruises, antiseptic lotions, bandages, bandaids etc.. You never know when small medical first-aid kits may help you or a fellow hiker or trekker with minors health issues including burns, cuts or bruises…
Other Miscellaneous or Multi-purpose Items – Worth Mentioning
Let us also look at some other optional or non-mandatory items that are good to have on your hiking or trekking trips.
1. Hiking Pole – Get some support
Carry a hiking pole is always helpful and worth buying especially when trekking on snow and long treks. It gives you stability, some comfort, and support to your knees and legs on all type of terrains. You should choose to buy trekking poles or hiking poles which are lightweight, adjustable, foldable and have some shock absorbent capabilities.
2. Smartphone or Compact Camera – Capture the memories or moments
Well, a Smartphone or a compact camera will help you in capturing pictures or moments from the trip. A phone will also help you get connectivity the moment you are in the signal zone.
Pro Tip: If you are on a self drive trip and not on a hiking or trekking trip, then make sure to read the article 40 Must Have Things to Carry on a Self Drive Trip to the Himalayas
3. Powerbank – Don’t run out of power
If you are carrying a Smartphone, it is always recommended to carry a fully charged power bank just in case the need arises. Phone battery can drain pretty quickly especially when making videos and taking a lot of pictures. So, a phone Powerbank will always be helpful in capturing more on your trek or hike.
4. Sunglasses – Save those eyes
Sunglasses are very helpful to block the sun rays and protect your precious eyes. This is especially true when you are hiking or trekking in the snow where the reflection just sores your eyes. You may get snowblind in abundance of snow from the reflecting sunrays from snow. At times, the irritation or burns from the snow gets quick painful in the nights making it hard to sleep or open eyes.
Hence, for all snow hikes or treks, it is mandatory to have Sunglasses on to protect your eyes on a sunny day in the snow. Otherwise, you can pick them as optional item.
5. GPS or SmartWatch or Fitness Tracker – Track your Hike or Trek
If you are a gadget freak or fitness freak who keeps a track of your fitness, you may opt to carry some GPS enable Smartwatch such as Apple iWatch Series 2 or Apple iWatch Series 3. You may opt to carry a dedicated trekking GPS device with yourself for recording the trek trail. In case, you are interested to keep a check on your health and fitness, you may get ones of those Fitbits and carry them on your hike or trek. I have a Fitbit Charge 2 and I just love it for my hikes, trek, gym and daily routines.
Some of these items are also of personal preference but are very useful when the situation arise. I have collected them over time and now it feels like I have my basic hiking and trekking kit complete. I hope the above list of things will prove helpful in planning your upcoming hiking or trekking trips or completing your own hiking kit. Did I miss on an important thing that you carry on your trekking or hiking trip?? Please feel free to post them in the comments section of the article. It will help other fellow travelers or hikers or trekkers of the community. If you have any questions, you can post them under our newly introduced Travel Questions section on this website from the main menu or in the DoW Community forums.