What to Pack for a Hike – 10 Essentials and Emergency Items

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The weather is finally looking up and now is the time when hikers crack out their backpacks and trekking poles, dust off their boots and go out for their long walks. It’s important to ensure that everyone knows what to pack for a hike. Depending on the time you’ll be out and the distance you’ll do, there may be different items you need to pack as well as checking the weather before you go to make sure you have the right clothing and outerwear ready to go. 

Whether you’re out hiking with friends or family, you must make sure that you have the right equipment for your hike. You don’t want to overpack for a smaller, shorter hike but equally don’t want to be underprepared if you decide to stay out for a little bit longer. 

Backpack

Make sure your backpack is the right choice for you. There are so many different varieties out there that you can be bogged down in trying out 20 different types. We’ve done some digging for you and have come up with a few ideas that may just be the best backpack you’ll ever have. 

Remember, they don’t have to be huge, but they must have enough space to fit in your essentials. 

We recommend making sure that your most used items are within easy reach. You should be putting maps/compass/ snacks in the lid of the rucksack or on the side pockets. Water on the other side pocket. The small inside pocket could carry your phone, backup power and emergency food as well as your whistle. 

In the main compartment, add your spare clothes, any shelter you’ve packed, foil blankets, packed lunch, first aid kit and any emergency kit you may need but not immediately i.e. fire lighters, water purifying tablets etc. 

If you are using walking poles, these can be attached to the outside for easy access when you need them. 

Best overall backpack: Osprey Exos 58 

Favourite daypack: The Adventure Bag

Best pack for lighter walks: Deuter Trail 22 SL Hiking Backpack

Spare weather-appropriate clothing 

You’ll obviously have clothes on, but making sure you have you’re prepared if the weather changes – for better or for worse, is always a good idea. Making sure you pack a good lightweight, yet waterproof jacket is a must. Waterproof trousers might also do you good as well as a fleece. Put in some sunglasses, hats, gloves, neck warmers or buffs and spare socks! Merino wool socks are a hiker’s favourite, but bamboo is also a great choice if you want to try something else. 

Food

If you’re anything like us at UK Fitness Events HQ – you’ll be snacking throughout your hike, so make sure you have enough! We recommend getting a mixture of sweet, savoury and then some energy style ones. Pack a decent sized lunch that is easy to eat on the go and doesn’t involve a lot of rubbish or packaging. Snacks will be great in terms of flapjack, sweets, energy gels and then some of our hiking friends pack sausage rolls, pork pies and cocktail sausages for quick easy snacks. For vegetarians and vegans, we love falafels, trail mix and roasted chickpeas!

Water

It is so important to take more water than you think you’ll need. Also pack some electrolytes, salt sticks and an energy drink to make sure you’re fully covered. Most people take around 2 litres of water for their hike. If you want to be extra cautious, put in some water purifier tablets in case you need to take some water from a stream. 

Map and navigation

Some hikers favour the traditional paper map which can be great if you know you’ll be somewhere with little to no phone signal. However, if you are a bit worried about it getting blown around, or not being able to find where you need to be and space in the backpack, then download the OS Maps website, get signed up and you’ll be able to find your way. You can also download maps for offline use, find popular routes and local activities and link them to your phone so it tracks your walk. 

As well as a map, it’s useful to have a traditional compass – again if you prefer, you can download an app for your compass but be careful of battery use and signal. If you’ve never read a compass, this handy guide will help.

First-aid kit and emergency pack

This is an exhaustive list – you’ll never know what you might need. However, we recommend having a specific outdoor first aid kit, like this one. As long as it has the basics, we think you’ll be ok. We asked a group of trail runners and hikers and they also suggested making sure you have a foil blanket, hand sanitiser, wet wipes and a waste bag as well as having tick remover, a whistle and a flare. 

Head torches are also a must – this one by Nebo is our favourite and ideal for longer hikes. Pack a portable charger with the right cables you need to charge your phone and torch and anything else you might need. 

If you’re hiking in the summer, make sure you also have sunscreen on and you have some spare. It’s ok to think you’ll be ok with one coating, but it’s important to top it up throughout the day to avoid getting burnt or falling ill with sunstroke. Packing a hat may also help with protection.

Non-essential extras

We recommend packing these just in case, but if you know you’re only going to be out for a couple of hours, you know the route and weather and you’re not alone; these could be left out. They are probably better off being packed for longer or solo hikes. 

Multi-tool

A great idea to have if you need anything at all or you need to cut something like a bandage in the first-aid kit, you get caught in branches or well, pretty much anything! There is so much that they can be used for and are a perfect addition to any hike or camping trip. 

Fire-starter kit

Always good to have on hand in an emergency and most of the ones online also come with emergency whistles – such as this one from Light My Fire. As they are small, they will fit easily into one of the pockets in your backpack and you will be able to light a fire I you’re stuck outside unexpectantly or if you’re wild camping and need to get a fire going.  

Survival shelter

surprisingly compact considering how big they get, but this is one of those things that you may not even think about until it’s too late. Having an emergency shelter is ideal, even if you’re out for a shorter walk and get caught out in a storm. You can get them for 2 to 4 people and even these might include a whistle! The Lifesystems store on Amazon has a full range of them so take a look and don’t get caught out. 

There can be a lot to remember to pack for what you might think is going to be a simple hike, but we know it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Essentials for any hike – backpack, food, water, first-aid kit, map and navigation. We also think having a spare change of clothes would be a great idea in case it’s wet and you don’t want soggy feet on the way home! 

It goes without saying that having the right footwear for your hike is important. There’s no point going on a long hike in unsuitable footwear, boots or walking shoes are a must. Check out our handy guide to The Best Walking Boots to get some great tips and a look at some great products.

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