Hiking checklist: Essential gear for the trail

Have you packed enough for your hike?

Here is a summary of what I believe to be the essential items you should carry on both day and overnight adventures. Your hiking checklist. I have provided a more detailed information under preparing your pack.

Day Hike Checklist

  • Pack Comfortable, adequate size, line with a strong plastic bag* to keep contents dry
  • Sturdy hiking boots, preferably waterproof
  • Water bottle/s Durable. Bladder, aluminium or heavy duty plastic. Read more about hydrating and minimum requirements here
  • Map, laminated or protected in map case
  • Compass oil filled
  • Watch (analog is best as it can be used for navigation)
  • Sunscreen, water resistant SPF 30+
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • First aid kit
  • Survival kit
  • Compact torch (windup is a good idea)
  • Pocket knife
  • Whistle
  • Notepad and pencil
  • Toilet paper and trowel
  • Matches and/or flint

An overnight pack liner doubles as a “bivvy bag” for an emergency shelter. Day walkers may also consider carrying a specific bivvy bag.

Overnight Hike Checklist

Overnight/Multi Day Checklist

All of the above plus…

  • Tent with fly, integral floor, insect proof
  • Sleeping bag, sealed in plastic bag to ensure that it stays dry. Liner sheet preferable. (in alpine areas you bag should have a sub-zero rating)
  • Sleeping mat or self inflating mat
  • Stove and billies, compact
  • Fuel bottle/s leak proof and clearly labelled
  • Matches, sealed in waterproof container
  • Extra water container, used wine/water cask bladder
  • Mug, bowl/plate
  • Utensils
  • Water purifying tablets and/or filter
  • Pocket knife
  • Spare torch batteries and bulb
  • Cord
  • Change of clothes
  • Warm clothing and jackets suitable for cold climates
  • Personal locator beacon (PLB). At least one member of your group should carry this
  • And if you still have room in the pack
  • Camera
  • Cards
  • Books
  • Repair kit
  • Candle lantern

Ideally, pack weight when sharing equipment between two people should be 13 kg + 0.7 kg of food per day.

Major items of overnight camping equipment can be borrowed or hired until you decide exactly what you need. Specialist hiking shops hire equipment and can also help with advice. Many clubs have equipment available for hire to members. Sharing equipment between walkers can considerably lighten your load.

Taking care to clean, dry and air equipment after a walk will increase its reliability and lifespan.

8 thoughts on “Hiking checklist: Essential gear for the trail”

  1. Darren, where you listed “Toilet paper and towel” did you mean toilet paper and trowel? I can do without a towel for the day but don’t want to dig a hole with my KFS set. I have a trowel on my touring bike for just such a purpose.

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