What to Bring on a Hike

Ten Essentials

The special items most hikers believe should always be with you:

  1. Map
  2. Compass
  3. Flashlight/headlamp
  4. Extra food
  5. Extra clothing
  6. Water & filter
  7. First aid supplies, including sunscreen
  8. Pocket knife
  9. Matches
  10. Fire starter

Outdoor Clothing

The following items are considered essential for a successful outing.

  • Boots: Of heavy lug construction, they should fit comfortably snug with free play for toes and with little or no slippage on the heel. The boots should be weather proofed and broken in before hiking.
  • Socks: Don't skimp. Wear good, wicking socks with lots of cushioning. If your boots don't fit snuggly, wear a pair of synthetic liner socks. Keep an extra pair of socks in your pack in case you need dry socks.
  • Pants: Constructed to be loose, warm, comfortable, and quick drying. For added warmth, wear long underwear. Don't wear cotton.
  • Shirts: Light, man-made fiber - such as bunting or nylon pile - recommended for good insulating quality and quick drying. Don't wear cotton.
  • Jacket: Mountain style with a hood, windproofed, waterproofed, and sized large enough to cover more insulating clothes worn under it.
  • Head Covering: Styled to retain body heat or provide shade as changing weather dictates.
  • Gloves and Overshell Mittens.
  • Rain Gear: A lightweight poncho, or rain pants and hooded parka.


The following list of items is designed to support life under any trip emergency in the backcountry, regardless of the season or weather conditions. Learn how to use it. Keep it always in your pack and check the condition of these items periodically. Your life may depend on it.

  • Fire starting kits. Bring two or three, each one different, including a cigarette lighter. Make sure they all work in wet, cold and windy conditions.
  • Pocket knife and wire or folding saw. The saw is for cutting large pieces of wood for an emergency fire.
  • Space blanket. The space blanket can be used as a wind breaker, heat reflector and as a signaling device for air rescue. Wave the cooler side up when standing on snow; the silver side up when standing on dark grounds.
  • 3 large plastic leaf bags. For quick rain and wind protection, put one bag over your head, the second around your legs, and the third over your backpack. Make a gap in the first for breathing.
  • Duct tape. This is handy for general repairs to space blankets, clothing, tents, boots, etc.
  • Ensolite pad. Reduce body heat loss by sitting or sleeping on pad instead of cold ground.
  • Head lamp with spare bulbs and batteries. A head lamp enables you to use both hands.
  • Map and compass plus surveying (flagging) tape. Make sure that you remove the tape on your way out.
  • Extra clothing.
  • Metal cup to melt snow.
  • Extra safe (boiled or filtered) drinking water.
  • Water filter.
  • Extra food.
  • Whistle and signal mirror and 100 feet of parachute cord.
  • Sun glasses and sun cream.
  • First aid kit.
  • Toilet paper.
  • Snow shovel on trips where snow is expected.

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