15 Essentials for Hiking a Backpack

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If you plan to go hiking, you have a great few days ahead. However, backpacking requires proper preparation. Your hiking backpack will come in handy for carrying your essentials.

This article will discuss the essentials to put into a hiking backpack. If you follow today’s list, even if you get lost or stranded for a few days, you should have the tools and provisions to stay safe and alive.

List of Essentials for Hiking Backpack

Here are the 15 most essential things that should go into your hiking backpack for your next adventure.

1. Rain Gear

One of the most essential items for any hiking trip is rain gear. There’s nothing worse than being rained on while hiking and being wet for the rest of the day. It’s uncomfortable and soggy, and if it’s cold, it can be dangerous. Therefore, at the very least, you should bring a hooded rain poncho. However, if you have enough space, carry full-fledged rain gear.

2. Warm Weather Clothes

Just like rain gear is essential for your hiking trip, so is some warm weather clothing. After all, you might be hiking during warm weather. You’ll want shorts and a T-shirt in your backpack if you are.

If you’re hiking and get too hot, you’ll start sweating; once you’ve sweated through your clothes, it will be almost as uncomfortable as if you were rained on. So you’ll appreciate clothes to keep you cool when temperatures are high.

3. Extra Socks

Whether it is raining, you get sweaty, or just step in a puddle you didn’t see, there’s usually nothing worse than wet socks on your feet.

At the very least, it just doesn’t feel comfortable, and even worse, it can result in blisters. If your feet are wet for several days, trench foot and other conditions can occur. Always take at least one or two extra pairs of socks.

4. Hat and Sunscreen

Sun protection is one of the most essential things for camping and hiking trips. If you’re out in the sun all day without sunscreen, you can develop a severe sunburn, and nobody wants that. Unfortunately, sunstroke and heat stroke are both realities as well.

Therefore, carry sunscreen with a high SPF rating with you. Moreover, a hat will keep the sun off your head, and sunglasses will keep your eyes comfortable. When it comes to summer hiking trips, sun protection is absolutely essential.

5. Insect Repellant and Afterbite

Another essential is mosquito spray or insect repellant. Nothing will ruin a hiking trip faster than bloodsuckers trying to make a meal out of you. You’ll end up covered in bites and feeling really itchy.

Therefore, carry high-quality insect repellant. This way, you can enjoy hiking or backpacking without having the insects enjoy you.

However, insect repellant is not 100%, so take some afterbite to take care of insect bites.

6. Fire Starter

A campfire is an excellent way to dry off if you get wet, stay warm at night, illuminate your campsite, cook food and boil water, and keep predators away at night. A fire starter is much easier to use than rubbing two sticks together.

A fire starter could be matches, a lighter, or an actual flint firestarter. Personally, we recommend all three, as you really cannot have enough ways to start a fire.

7. GPS and Cellphone

A communication method is essential if you get lost or stranded in an emergency. Therefore, have your cellphone charged and ready to go.

On that note, you might want to consider getting a satellite phone, so you can call for help even if there’s no signal for your cellphone.

An even better tool is a combination satellite phone and GPS mapping tool. This way, you can keep track of your location and call for help when needed.

Essentials for Hiking a Backpack

8. Map and Compass

A map and a compass can keep you on track and prevent you from getting lost if your GPS fails. If you get lost, you will still have a way to determine your location and get back on track. However, you need to know how to use a map and compass, so you might want to brush up on your skills. It’s something that could save your life one day.

9. Mirror and Whistle

A mirror and a whistle can be handy if you get lost or stranded and have no other way to communicate with potential rescuers.

You can reflect sunlight over distances with a mirror to get the attention of potential rescuers.

At the same time, a whistle may allow you to get the attention of your rescuers using sound. These are essential things to have if you plan on being out on the water.

10. Emergency Blanket

An emergency blanket will be helpful if you get stranded in the woods on a cold night. However, you don’t want to freeze or suffer from hypothermia, which can happen if the temperature drops too low.

Emergency blankets look like sheets of thin aluminum foil, so they are lightweight and portable. Yet, they are specially designed to reflect and hold in heat.

11. A Knife and Multitool

Another backpacking essential is a good survival knife, even better if you combine that with a good multitool.

A simple blade can be used for hunting and foraging, making fires, building shelters, cutting rope, fishing, self-defense, etc. Therefore, a good knife is essential whenever you head into the woods.

12. First Aid Kit

This one needs no explanation. A first aid kit should contain basic bandages, gauze, disinfectant, infection-fighting medications, a needle and thread, and other things that can be lifesavers. So if you are in the woods for several days, a good first aid kit should be in your backpack.

13. Extra Food and Water

Ensure you have enough food and water to last a few days. For example, you might be planning to hike only a few hours, but that can turn into a few days if things go wrong.

Therefore, carry extra water and food. This can be in the form of energy bars and other compact foods that don’t take up much space but are rich in calories and proteins for the energy you need to survive.

Water filter straws are small and convenient to carry, so you don’t have to take extra water bottles.

14. Camping Stove

A camping stove can make cooking easy if you plan to stay in the woods overnight. Cooking over an open fire is nice, but you might struggle to get a wood fire burning in the wet. A camping stove will allow you to have a hot meal to keep your spirits and energy up.

15. Water Purifier

We briefly touched on this before, but you also want to have a water purifier if you run out of water. You should never drink straight from a stream, river, or puddle, as these can harbor dangerous bacteria. However, you need water, so having a backup if you run out is essential.


These are the 15 most important things to put in your hiking backpack to keep you safe, comfortable, and on the right track.

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