Guide For Must-Have Hiking Items

Updated: May 27

Planning a Hiking Trip? Pin this so you don't forget this guide!

Whether you are a beginner hiker, newbie, or advanced hiker the needs for the kind of hiking trip you’re planning will vary. From going on multiple cross country hiking trips to road trip hiking and camping to a local day trip each one has a different need. However, the day trip break down I'm going to share with you, will be needed for all the above hiking options.


Now, this list I’m going to share with you comes from my personal experience. When I planned out my cross country trip and I was looking for what must-have items I would need for the spot I was going to hike. That is important information for you to look up especially when it comes to footwear. You don’t want to wear boots that are great for rocky ground, but you’re going to be on sandy ground.

With that disclaimer, here is a break down of my suggestions for what to pack for your next hiking adventure. I am going to break up the different hiking trips into three blog posts so each piece can be a helpful guide for you!

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products or services I use.


Let’s start with a day trip because these essential items will be needed in your pack for the other hiking trips you plan!


For a day trip hike, you may carry fewer items than you would for a camping or cross country trip. However, the basics for all these items should be

This might seem random to you, but trust me it’s not!


Why a hat? If it is the summer, you want to protect your scalp, face, and neck from being burned. If it is chillier weather or winter, you’ll need it to keep you warm.

One hike I went on, it was a gorgeous day, but the elements changed during it. It got cool, thank goodness I keep a hat in my pack or I could have caught a chill and gotten sick. Another time it was an overcast day and I didn’t bring my sunglasses. Since I had a cap in my bag when the sun came out, I was able to protect my eyes.

Neck cover? This can be optional from a buff, turtle fur neck cover or a bandana. I used to not bring this with me but I asked for one for my birthday from an artist, and I wanted to support her. I enjoy its versatility. 



This neck cover will do the obvious of protecting your neck. It can also act as a headband if that is your preference. Or a way to wash off your hands, wipe away sweat or keep you warm.

Sunscreen, water, and tissues, I don’t think this needs more of an explanation. I will say, bring more water than you normally drink.


A pack. This will hold all your supplies. Since getting a hiking pack, I will not hike without one. It will save your fingers from lugging items about. Also, it allows certain key items to be in your pack always and makes it easy for you to not forget them.

Aquaphor, I am a big Aquaphor advocate for its variety of purposes. If you get a cut, it’ll help protect it so you don’t get an infection. It can be used on your lips to keep them from getting dry. Super windy? It can be used to protect your skin from cracking. Cold? Put in your feet and hands and it acts as an insulator.


First Aid kit, anything can happen in a hike. I keep a basic first aid kit in an old Altoids box. My kid includes antibacterial wipes, KT tape, floss (you never know!), and bandaids. I mainly keep small bandaids in here for small scrapes, blisters, and those minor band-aids needs.

What is in your pack can differ per person. Say you have small kids, you’ll need to take extra snacks, waters, maybe different first aid items,

What is in your first aid kid could also be different. Do you have allergies or allergic to something? You’ll need the right medicine or an EpiPen depending on the severity.

The kind of snack you bring is also personal to the packer. If possible I would suggest avoiding ones that accumulate a lot of garbage. I like to use Stasher bags to hold a nut mix. My favorite mix of the moment is almonds, craisins, coconut shreds, M&M’s, Chex, and caramel bits. I would go very light on the caramel bits!

I love playing around with different nut and dried fruit options for hikes. It’s a great way to sustain you through a hike. Depending on the length you might need a heavier lunch. If you have a cooler bag, hummus and veggies with a sandwich is a great way to go. One of the best hike lunches I’ve had was leftover chicken from the night before, hummus, in pita bread!

It can be fun to be creative.


A jacket and socks can be combined for similar purposes. A rain jacket would be ideal since if it gets cold and windy, they can help break up the wind. Rain jacket, for the obvious reason, if it begins to rain. If you don't foresee rain or don't want to take a rain jacket, an additional layer always helps if the temperature changes and you need another layer while hiking. Socks? If it rains or you go through wet areas that your feet get wet. You get to swap your socks at one point so you don't injure your feet.


Bonus/optional items that aren't a must-buy:

  • Trekking poles - these are a new addition to my pack. I started seeing a difference in how my knees were taking the impact for certain areas going downhill and I want to protect them for as long as possible. I have Lekki poles that I love!

  • Fitness watch - track distance, telling time to be mindful of when the sun will set. I have a Versa Fitbit, but I've heard amazing things about Garmin watches.

  • Electrolytes - depending on hike length, I bring Nuun tablets,

  • Hair ties, bobby pins, or headbands

  • Bug spray

  • Camera

  • Change of clothes, this is optional to keep in the car, helps if you think there is a chance of rain or muddy conditions.

Tell me in the comments below what are the must-have items for your pack? What trails are you planning to hike?


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