Hiking is somewhat… strange. It’s both relaxing and tiring, but what makes hiking so fricking enjoyable is the sense of adventure that comes with it. The exploration, the challenges, the sighs after a long climb, the sense of escape you need from the urban life of working in the office, everything.

And then it hits. You forgot something. A bottle? Your compass? Your phone? Oh no….

And so comes the ultimate hiking checklist – a complete list of all the things you’ll need for your hiking adventure, and a couple of optional nice-to-haves to make things a little more convenient.

The Ultimate Hiking Checklist

Hiking checklist

Let’s break it down.

Basic Gear

While the rest are pretty self-explanatory, backpacks can get a little confusing. Here’s a quick breakdown:

The Semantics of Backpacks

HIking Backpack

Now if you’re a little new to backpacks in general, you’re probably wondering what’s the difference between a backpack, a daypack and a rucksack? If we’re talking semantics, all rucksacks are backpacks, but not all backpacks are rucksacks. 

Or in a more simpler term, a rucksack is a category of backpacks. Rucksacks in general are a lot more durable, and are commonly used by the military or hikers who have a lot of things to bring along with them. Although they’re different by definition, a lot of brands tend to use “backpack” and “rucksack” synonymously, which is not entirely inaccurate.

As for daypacks, it’s in its name. They’re backpacks that are meant for daily essentials, and aren’t meant for overnight trips.

Essentially, rucksacks and daypacks are, in fact, backpacks. Welcome to the English Language.

Now that we got the semantics out of the way, what’s the best backpack to buy? It all boils down to their capacity and use. Here’s a quick summary:

Capacity

Use
10 – 30 litres Hiking, day walks, commuting
30 – 50 litres Camping, hiking
50 litres and above Travel, expeditions, backpacking 

So, shop accordingly!

Moving on…

Navigation

  • Map
  • Compass
  • Guidebook
  • GPS 
  • Altimeter watch

 

Navigation

Now you’re probably thinking, why a handheld GPS and a map when your smartphone has both? Put simply, batteries.

A handheld GPS has longer-lasting batteries (and they’re replaceable), much better satellite reception and more water-resistant. And some models even come with a two-way radio and digital cameras as well. 

As for a map, well again, no batteries to worry about.

For a full guide on navigation, including how to read maps and a compass, check it out here.

Comfort, Clothing & Footwear (bring extras!)

These are some of the things that’ll make it more comfy for you. Moisture wicking T-shirts and quick-dry pants to keep you dry and plenty of sun protection with arm sleeves, sunglasses and sunscreens. 

But what about the shoes?

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For hiking shoes, there are 2 things to look for – the type and the cuts.

For the type:

  • Light hiking shoes: 
    • Ideal for day hiking
    • Lightweight 
    • Less durable 
  • Mountaineering boots: 
    • Suitable for the roughest terrain 
    •  Very durable 
    • Heavy 
  • Backpacking boots: 
    • Suitable for a large variety of terrains 
    • Ideal for multi-day treks
    • Less durable 

As for the cuts:

  • Low-cut
    • Perfect for a casual hike 
    • Lightweight 
    • Vulnerable to injuries 
    • Not suitable for rough terrain 
    • Not as durable 
  • Mid-cut
    • Provides ankle support and balance 
    • Protection from trail debris 
    • Not as durable 
  • High-cut
    • Provides ankle support and balance 
    •  Suitable for off-train and on-trail 
    • Suitable for rough terrain 
    • Durable 
    • Heavy 

Food & Water

Hiking snacks

Gotta stay hydrated and avoid any hangriness when you’re out on the trails. While a water bottle or hydration pack is enough to last you a while, having a water purifier will help out a lot for refilling at rivers in case you run out. And who wouldn’t love some snacks while on a hike? 

Nice-to-haves

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While these aren’t a must, they do make your hiking adventures a little better. A camera and a pair of binoculars for the views, two-way radios and a couple of extra batteries for some comms in case of emergencies, and some urinaries for the REAL emergency. 

Summing up

And that’s about… everything? Of course not! Everyone’s got some of their own stuff to bring along as well. And so, you can find a printer-friendly version of the checklist where you can fill in your own must-bring-alongs right below.

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Happy packing, and happy hiking!

 

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