What’s in your hiking daypack?
If you’ve been hiking with the 52 Hike Challenge community for a while, then you’ve probably heard us talk about the importance of carrying the 10 Essentials. Even if you’re just taking a mile walk in the woods, we always advocate for you to have these items.
But did you know there’s a lot more gear you can carry with you to be even more prepared?
If you’re going on a full day adventure, exploring with kids or just want to be ready for whatever the trail brings, you’re in luck:
We put together an extensive list of hiking gear that takes you beyond the 10 Essentials.
As you venture into the wilderness, you’ll feel safe and secure knowing you have these items on-hand.
First let’s quickly cover what the 10 Essentials are and why you need them in your hiking pack.
A Quick Overview of the 10 Essentials
The 10 Essentials are the bare minimum items you should always carry on any trail anywhere no matter what.
This list is designed to keep you safe from the elements and prepared in the unexpected event of trailside emergencies.
The 10 Essentials
- Fire: matches, flint, fire starter
- First aid kit
- Sun protection: SPF sunscreen, sunglasses, lip balm with SPF
- Navigation: map & compass
- Layering system: extra clothing (rain jacket, insulation, fleece, etc.)
- Tools/knife: multi-tool (leatherman or swiss army knife)
- Illumination: head lamp, flashlight
- Nutrition: snacks, lunch, etc.
- Hydration: water, water bottle, filter, electrolytes
- Emergency shelter: tarp, emergency blanket
All gear recommendations are tried, tested and trail-approved by your hiking buddies at 52 Hike Challenge.
The 20+ (Additional) Essentials You Didn’t Know You Needed
Gear Recommendations from 52 Hike Challenge
Please note the items on this list are additions to your 10 essentials and should never replace any of the items listed above.
Beyond the 10 Essentials: 20+ Additional Items to Add to Your Hiking Pack
#1. Detox Wipes
The outdoors can get messy, and we found the perfect product to protect you from nature’s irritants and poisonous plants.
From the Tecnu line of products you know and love, these multi-purpose wipes will keep your hands, skin, kids, pets and gear clear from harmful toxins sometimes found in the outdoors.
The best part? They’re effective and sustainable.
Derived from bamboo fiber, these single-use waterless wipes are biodegradable while helping you remove poison ivy and oak oil, pitch, tar, and other oily substances. They can be used on your skin, equipment, tools, pets, and more.
Tested & trail-approved by Karla, co-founder of the 52 Hike Challenge
#2. Portable Charger
Hiking is a great way to unplug, but it’s always a good idea to have your phone powered and ready in case you get lost or injured on your hike.
If you use your phone to track your hikes, take pictures and share your location with a loved one, you might lose battery faster than you’d think. Carrying a portable charger is basically an insurance policy to keep your phone powered so you can stay on track while on the trail. Make sure not to forget your charging cord!
Tested & trail approved by Mandi, content creator at the 52 Hike Challenge
#3. Kula Pee Cloth
What’s a pee cloth? It’s the hiking gear essential you didn’t know you needed.
Ladies, this one’s for you.
Kula Cloth creates cute, reusable and sustainable pee cloths for your outdoor squat. These antimicrobial cloths are made with the environment in mind, so you can squat in style while keeping nature wild.
P.s. Get your 52 Hike Challenge Limited Edition Kula Cloth while supplies last here.
Tested & trail approved by Karla & Mandi at the 52 Hike Challenge
#4. Trash Bag
Trail stewardship is a great way to make an impact and elevate your hiking game!
Do your part to Leave No Trace by leaving the wilderness better than you found it. We invite you to pack a trash bag on your next hike and pick up any litter you encounter
You can find biodegradable or reusable trash bags on Amazon, Target and plenty of other stores.
The 52 Hike Challenge has been practicing Leave No Trace since its inception in 2014.
#5. GPS Unit
If you’re venturing off-grid and away from cell reception, a GPS unit is a great way to ensure your safety. These handy devices keep you connected even when your phone is completely offline.
When you travel with a GPS unit, you’ll be able to track and share your location, send out a distress call and much more.
Some of our favorite GPS systems are made by Garmin, Zoleo and SPOT, all available at REI.
Tested & trail-approved by Karla and Phillip, founders of the 52 Hike Challenge
#6. Water Filter
Water is one of the ten essentials, but what happens if you run out? While you should always carry enough water for your trek, unpredictable circumstances can cause you to use more water than you thought you needed.
On the off-chance you get lost in the wilderness, a water filter can save your life. In fact, dehydration is one of the leading causes of Search and Rescue (SAR) missions.
As a result, we always carry a tool to purify water in the event of an emergency. There are lots of options out there, and we particularly like the Squeeze water filtration system made by Sawyer Products.
Trail tested & approved by Karla and Phillip, co-founders of the 52 Hike Challenge
#7. Bear Spray
If you’re exploring Grizzly Country, bear spray is a must. The hope is that you never need to use it, but the idea is that you’ll be prepared in the rare event that a bear charges you.
Always keep your bear spray within reach as you will have limited time to respond if you’re in danger of a bear attack.
Familiarize yourself with the wildlife where you’re hiking and know whether you need bear spray before you set out.
You can find bear spray at most local outfitters wherever grizzlies are known to live.
Mandi is currently living in Montana and carries bear spray on all of her hikes, even the ones close to home.
#8. Sunburn & Insect Bite Relief Gel
The wilderness has beautiful views and peaceful sounds, but sometimes you may end up with a sunburn or bug bites.
Don’t let either keep you from enjoying your adventure. Carry Tecnu Calagel to treat these conditions quickly so you can hike on.
This itch-relief formula is cooling and soothing, and it even smells nice!
Tested & trail-approved by Karla, co-founder of the 52 Hike Challenge
Add an extra layer of protection by keeping a wilderness whistle attached to your pack. You can use this device to scare off approaching wildlife, alert others of distress and more.
Some survival whistles, like Coghlan’s Four Function Whistle, even come with a compass to help you stay on-course along with other tools like a thermometer and magnifying glass.
You can find this and other brands at your local REI.
Trail tested & approved by Mandi, 52 Hike Challenge Content Creator
Travel with a trowel to be an even better trail steward. This trusty tool helps you follow Leave No Trace guidelines as it assists in burying your waste deep enough so it doesn’t pollute the trail.
Some trowels are even made out of lightweight titanium so they won’t add much extra weight to your pack.
Look for your trowel REI and other outdoor outfitters.
#11. Bandana or Buff
Offer yourself some sun and wind protection by traversing the trails with a bandana, buff or neck gaiter.
This extra essential is especially helpful if you’re hiking on a dusty desert trail. In addition, you can use this piece of hiking gear to protect your neck, face and scalp from sun exposure and wind damage.
Did you know we have our own neck gaiters in the 52 Hike Challenge store?
Trail tested & approved by all of us at the 52 Hike Challenge
No matter where you explore, it’s always a good idea to have your prescription medications on-hand. Add to your emergency kit and in the event of an emergency, carry enough medication to last you a couple days.
You never know what the wilderness will bring, and it’s best to be prepared for the unexpected at all times.
You can get portable pill cases on Amazon, at REI and more.
#13. Tape for blisters and repairs
If you feel a hot spot coming on, wrap the affected area with medical tape before the blister forms. This will help prevent the blister from becoming a bigger problem.
As you probably know, duct tape has many uses, and it can be used as repair tape. You can use it to patch holes in clothing and gear as well.
Pro tip: Wrap duct tape to your trekking poles for easy access and save space in your pack.
#14. Cold weather hiking gear
Layering while hiking comes in handy for comfort and safety alike. If you’re hiking in cold weather or in an area that has extreme temperatures that change rapidly, be sure to pack insulated layers. Also bring cold weather items like gloves, a hat or beanie, scarf, etc.
In addition, it’s a good idea to carry an emergency blanket in the off-chance you or your hiking buddy suffers from hypothermia.
As an extra perk, hand and foot warmers come in handy during breaks when your body temperature cools down.
#15. Insect repellent
Summer hiking is beautiful, and the pests area. Summer is mosquito season, and these little pests can make or break your hiking experience. Prevent a bunch of bites by carrying insect repellent.
We particularly like Sawyer Products Picadirin because it repels mosquitoes while keeping ticks away. You can find yours at REI.
Trail tested & approved by Karla & Mandi
#16. Extra socks
Hiking brings a lot of wet and wild adventures. If you’re trekking river crossings, muddy trails, around lakes or simply hiking in the heat, it doesn’t hurt to have a spare pair of socks on-hand.
Nobody likes soggy socks, especially when you have miles to walk in them. Keep your feet happy by keeping some clean, dry socks in your pack.
Darn Tough is one of our favorite hiking sock brands because they’re durable, comfortable and cute. Plus, they have a lifetime guarantee, and they’re made right here in the USA.
Did you know about these uses for a survival paracord?
This hiking safety item can help if you or your hiking buddy gets injured on-trail. You can use your paracord to create a suture, sling, splint and more.
You can also use a paracord as a rescue cord if the unexpected happens while crossing a river and more.
These next few items are less about safety and more about having fun, but if you love documenting your adventures and getting a close up view of wildlife, then they’re essential for your hiking experience!
Whether you choose to trek with your smartphone, Nikon, Canon or your own two eyes, don’t forget to stop and enjoy the view! Nature is constantly putting beauty in front of you, and it would be a shame not to stop and appreciate it.
A camera is a great way to document your adventure. You can even use your smartphone to identify plants and wildflowers you haven’t seen before.
Want to enjoy wildlife from a safe distance? Binoculars are a great way to get a close-up view of birds and other game seen on the trails. In our opinion, this is the best way to appreciate wildlife because it keeps all parties safe at all times!
#22 Journal and pens
Nature inspires a sense of introspection and inspiration. Sometimes you just need to write those profound thoughts down. Carry a journal and pens so you can document how you’re feeling, what you’re seeing and any creative words that come to you.
If you’re taking the 52 Hike Challenge, our Journey Journal is an awesome way to chronicle your hiking adventures. When you look back, it will be so rewarding to see where you started and how far you’ve come.
Bonus Expert Tip
Pack and leave post-hiking items in the car for comfort. Think deodorant, a change of clothes, baby wipes, sandals, water and snacks… all the snacks.
Last but not least, have a great hike!
Which of these hiking essentials do you already carry with you? What are you definitely adding to your pack from now on?
Let us know in the comments!
Thank you Tecnu for sponsoring this in-depth guide on hiking gear essentials.