Hiking Checklist Essentials
With hiking trips around the world and headquarters in the trail-rich Bay Area, Backroads knows a thing or two about packing for a trek. Whether it’s an all-day excursion or a weekend afternoon hike, bringing the right essentials is…well, essential!
Here’s an easy hiking checklist that includes what to bring next time you hit the trails. Now, grab your day pack and get packing!
No matter what kind of mileage you’re covering, staying hydrated is critical. Before you hit the trail, drink a glass of water or your favorite sports drink. While hiking—particularly on more strenuous hikes and in hot weather—you should aim to drink at least one quart every hour. A water hydration pack, such as a CamelBak, makes it easy to sip water regularly as you go. For longer hikes, electrolyte powders or sports drinks and healthy snacks, such as trail mix or potassium-rich bananas, can help you maintain energy levels. Limiting your caffeine and alcohol intake will help you stay better hydrated. Be sure to keep refueling after the hike as well!
Not all terrain calls for heavy-duty hiking boots, but making sure your feet are happy is paramount to a successful day on the trail. On some routes, you might feel best in lighter athletic shoes with good grip; on other hikes, you might want more ankle support and cushioning. (Check out our article about hiking boots to learn more about the available options.) Most importantly, make sure your hiking checklist includes shoes or boots that fit properly and have been broken in before you start hiking!
When spending prolonged periods of time outside, be sure to protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays. Apply a good broad-spectrum sunscreen to exposed skin before hiking, wear a hat with a wide brim, and check out your local sporting goods store for activewear made from UPF-rated fabrics. Enjoying that beautiful scenic vista? Keep your eyes healthy with at least 98 percent UVA and UVB sunglasses!
Backroads Pro Tip
Apply sunscreen 20–30 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply every two hours—even on a cloudy day or when hiking a mostly shaded trail.
Here are your hiking checklist must-haves to stay healthy in the sun:
- Broad-spectrum sunscreen
- Wide-brimmed hat
- UVA/UVB sunglasses
- UPF fabric clothing
- SPF lip balm
Map or guidebook and compass
While smartphones offer amazing features to help you navigate popular trails and backcountry routes, a map or guidebook and a compass are fail-safe resources should you find yourself without cell service or if your phone runs out of battery.
Backroads Pro Tip
Need a map, guidebook or compass? Sporting goods stores, local tourist offices and ranger stations are all great places to find these old-school necessities.
Warm layer(s) and a lightweight rain jacket
Mastering the art of layering up and being prepared for a range of weather during outdoor adventures are fundamental skills for any outdoor enthusiast. Check the weather before you leave, and grab some climate-appropriate gear to keep in your daypack, just in case cold weather or rain hits. Even if you luck out with conditions, these layers will always be useful as cushions during a rest or for extra sun protection. (Check out our article on mastering layering for expert advice!)
A small packable first-aid kit gives you peace of mind and the necessary remedies for minor trail incidents and injuries—including those pesky blisters.
Even though nobody wants to have to use emergency items, these few small products can make all the difference, and they don’t add a lot of weight to your pack:
- Headlamp or flashlight. (You never know if something will delay you until after dark!)
- Multitool knife.
- Fire-starting mechanism.
With all the goods and gear marked off your hiking checklist, you’re ready to get outside and explore. Enjoy the fresh air and stay safe. Happy trails!