Karsten Don - Fri, 21 Dec 2018 - Start the conversation

The 10 hiking essentials.

Hiking essentials will be one of the first things you will find when searching for information for hiking & backpacking, and it is the first building block you need to start the foundation.

You have to begin somewhere. And the " 10 Hiking essentials " is the perfect point to start,  I will give you a short description of all of the main concepts. A detailed explanation per subject will be given in the near future.

The 10 Essentials first appeared in print in the third edition of Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (January 1974). For this hiking blog I used the eighth edition of Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (2010) book.

The 10 Essentials:

1. Navigation.

2. Sun Protection.

3. Insulation.

4. Illumination.

5. First aid

6. Fire

7. Repair kit & Tools.

8. Nutrition.

9. Hydration.

10. Emergency Shelter.

1. Navigation.

Navigation an essential skill every hiker should have

[ Smartphone / Topographic map / Compass / GPS devices ]

One of the enjoyments of hiking is getting lost in the environment. The total immersion with nature might take you off the original plan. Yet you have to get back to reality at some point. Having certain navigation skills are crucial. Back in the days reading maps was the way to go, nowadays having a navigation device is an option. So always bring a device that can get you on the right path. This also means that you might need to bring an extra battery to make sure you have enough juice.

2. Sun protection.

Sun protection to protect against the sun on your next hike

[ Hat / Sunglasses / Sunscreen for lips & skin / Clothing ]

We all know the dangers that the sun can bring, but it's easy to forget to protect yourself. Being prepared is the way to make sure you remind yourself. We all love the sun but being in it for most of the day(s) may cause unwanted damage. Prepare yourself by adding a layer of sun protection before starting your adventure.

3. Insulation.

Isulation layers is a hikers number 1 friend

[ Layers of clothing & Gloves / Gaiters ]

Knowing how to dress for the occasion is a great way to control your own temperature. Having multiple layers with you will give you the option to do that. Because you never know when the weather might give you a curveball.

In a later post I will go into more detail.

4. Illumination.

Illumination for the darkness

[ Led headlight/ Flashlight/ Smartphone/ Extra batteries ]

Most hikes will be by day with sunlight. Because walking in the night gives an extra layer of complications. To make sure you won't have to be in the dark at any time bring some sort of illumination. Even though you might have timed the route and planned everything beforehand. In my own experience, a  flashlight on a phone isn't the greatest solution. Because it might drain the battery too quickly and then you don't have one of your last backups available.

5. First aid

First aid kit to make sure you are safe on the hikes.

[ Insect repellent/ Food care/ Location & time dependent ]

Being prepared for every scenario is unrealistic. But you can make sure yourself for the most common ones. Having a basic med kit and knowledge how to use it will get you out of the most harry situations. Don't forget to have protection for other factors, like blister prevention and insect repellent.

6. Fire

Fire to make your next meal warm and make yourself warm again.

[ Lighter/ Waterproof matches ]

Not all walks will be in perfect weather conditions, having the option to make a small fire can make a big change. This might not be necessary on one-day walks, and in some cases it might not even be legal to make a fire. But when you can give yourself some warmth from a fire it's such a morale booster, and having warm food is a real pick-me-up. To make sure you can make the fire have both with you (lighter/matches).

Warning: Only make fire on places where it is aloud. Make sure it won't damage the beautiful environment you are in.

7. Repair kit and tools.

Multi tool to have all in one , to make sure you can repair everything.

[ Multi tool/ Knife/ Duct tape/ cable ties/ Gear repair kit ]

To prevent cutting your adventure short because of a technical mishap, try to bring tools with you that can combat more than one problem. An example is duct tape. It's lightweight and has a solution for many problems.

8. Nutrition.

Nutrition, or chocolate in this case.

[ Additional food to survive an extra day/ Beyond the minimum expectation/ Dense superfoods ]

Hiking burns between 400-500 calories an hour (approximately). And to replenish that somewhat on your journey you need to bring sufficient nutrition with you. Even though chocolate bars are great, they might not give you the best nutritional value. So, a better solution is something high-calorie and low weight like: protein bars/ energy bars/ nuts.

9. Hydration.

Hydration to combat the thirst.

[ Bring water depending on your hike/ Purification tablets/ Lightweight water purifier ]

We all know we need to drink water when we are doing physical activities but how much water do you need? It's not an exact science but a good rule of thumb is if you’re hiking, to drink about 1 liter (32 ounces) of water every two hours. Keep this in consideration when you are planning your hike. Another solution is to bring a way to purify water sources (tablets /water filters / etc).

10. Emergency shelter.

Emergency shelter, like a emergency bivy or tent.

[ Emergency Bivy/ Tarp/ Tent ]

To make sure you won't be surprised in any situation it’s smart to bring an emergency bivy bag. It’s lightweight but brings a heavy punch and will help you out in extreme situations.


In most hiking and backpacking trips it's wise to bring all 10 items to be certain you are covered in all areas. Now that you have read the ten essentials, you can make a calculated decision what to bring on your next journey.

If you want to know which photography you should take with you on the next hike you can read the blog: Photography Equipment.

Good luck on your next adventure, let us know if it was helpful and what you learned from all your trips.  And if it’s possible:

Wander Together. 

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