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Your All-Season Hiking Checklist

Throughout the year, you should go over your hiking gear and see if you have to add or take away several items. Even the most experienced among seasoned hikers forget a few basic essentials, so in order to refresh your mind, this article provides a hiking checklist of necessities that will make hiking a breeze.

Basic Hiking Gear Checklist

Listed in this checklist are the items you should bring at all times, no matter the season.

  1. Maps

Before going to your planned destination, make sure that you have with you a comprehensive map of the area. Study the area and the map — you should know how to use it.

Next to a proper paper map, you could take a hiking GPS with you as well. This makes following your hiking trail a lot easier and gives you a better overview where you are.

  1. Compass

Look for a compass that’s liquid-filled, 0-360 degrees, features a modifiable declination, has a clinometer, an incandescent bezel and markings, a folding mirror and has a 3-4 inches baseplate. The compass should be lightweight.

A lot of hiking GPS unit have an electronic compass included. Although this doesn’t replace the traditional hiking compass, you can certainly use it for your daily hiking.

  1. Clothing

Wear clothes and pack additional clothing that fits the weather or climate. Asses the weather first for chances of rain and keep track of the temperature. The following are items that you can bring along.

  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Lightweight rain jacket
  • Lightweight fleece jacket (for insulation)
  • Hiking pants (waterproof is recommended)
  • Additional pair of socks (Gore-Tex is recommended)
  • Caps or beanies
  • A pair of gloves
  • Thermal underwear (not cotton)
  1. Flashlight or headlamp

For day hikes, headlamps or a trusty flashlight are essentials. Choose lights that have rotating heads or bodies for the power options, are water-resistant and come with a few spare bulbs.

  1. Eyewear

Treks on sunny or icy locales can pack a punch on your eyes so make sure that you carry something that will help protect them. Sunglasses with UV protection and light-reflecting properties are recommended. Furthermore, if you are heading to snow country, better pack a pair of high-quality glacier glasses with you.

  1. First-Aid Kits

SOL Origin Survival Kit backcountry first aid kitHere’s a list of essential first-aid items.

  • Band-aids
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Sterilized bandages
  • Aspirin or any pain relief medicine
  • Tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • Antibiotic treatment
  • Treatment for poison ivy, etc
  • Waterproof matches
  • Duct tape (a sufficient swath rolled up on a pen will do)
  • Mirror
  • Prescription medicines (if any)
  • Insect repellent
  1. Pocket knife/tools

Pack equipment with multiple uses like the always-reliable Swiss Army knife. Knives are always helpful when it comes to cutting rope or patching things up and is also quite handy for food preparation.

  1. Water carriers/filters

If you are acquainted with your destination and there’s a guaranteed water source around the area, bring along a sufficient amount of water to take you there.

However, if you’re not bringing public-sourced water with you, remember to treat the water you take from your destination, despite its source. Boil the water first before drinking or make use of purifiers, filters or chemical tablets.

For convenience, place water inside lightweight bottles such as bottles made from high-density polyethylene or Lexan polycarbonate. You can also make do with old plastic juice bottles but make sure that they won’t split or leak during your journeys.

  1. Sunblock/sun protection

Bear in mind that the higher the locale, the greater the sun’s glare. Protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays is an obligation that every one of us has to do. Summer hikes usually require lighter-colored clothing and hikers must take note to cover exposed skin, especially the neck and ears, with sunblock containing a high SPF rating (30 is sufficient).

Apply your sunblock and SPF-protected lip balm frequently to avoid burning.

  1. Repel 100 Insect Repellent, 4 oz. Pump Spray, Single Bottle

    Insect repellents

    Insect repellent

Insects can easily dampen a hiker’s mood, and in order to keep these nasty buggers away, you must pack some insect repellent with you or wear bug-repelling clothing. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts in lighter colors. You can also check out clothing treated with Permethrin.

Wear hats to keep them out of your hair or if you don’t mind, you can also opt for insect-screen clothing like hats or jackets, even a full body suit. Use DEET-based insect repellent on your exposed skin but make sure that you wash it off as soon as you reach home.

  1. Whistle

Whistles are handy for emergencies. You can use them in case you get lost on your trail, you acquired an injury and need help, etc. Choose plastic ones instead of the metal kind because the latter tends to freeze up on colder environments.

  1. Food

Take along more than you need. Calorie-dense goods are recommended and those that come in smaller sizes are sufficient enough to keep your energy on track.

  • Trail mix
  • Power/energy bars
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Nuts
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers
  1. Other items to consider

  • Phones
  • Binoculars
  • Hiking knife
  • Camera
  • Plant and wildlife guides exclusive to the area
  • Toilet paper
  • Trekking/hiking poles

Seasonal Hiking Checklist

The list of essentials have been discussed earlier, and now you can just add in some additional gear to the necessities depending on the season or the destination you’re heading at.

Additional Items for Summer

Especially in hot climate areas you might want to bring additional items with you:

  • Swimming gear (swimsuits, trunks, etc)
  • Shorts
  • Sun hat
  • Lightweight water shoes

Additional Items for Spring and Fall

  • Thermal underwear
  • Midweight fleece mittens or gloves
  • Avalanche beacon (optional)
  • Snowshoes (optional)
  • Trekking pole (optional
  • Ice axe (optional)

Additional Items for Winter

  • Hiking/insulated winter boots

  • Midweight thermal underwear
  • Midweight gloves or mittens
  • Down sweater
  • Hand warmers
  • Avalanche beacon (optional)
  • Snowshoes (optional)
  • Trekking pole (optional
  • Ice axe (optional)

Night Hikes

Start with the basics then add the following items on the list. Additionally, this will require a bigger pack for you since you will be carrying more gear than usual.

Sleeping Essentials

  • Sleeping bag, pad or a bivy sack
  • Four-season tent

Cooking Equipment


Take food that won’t require too much preparation (instant oatmeal and freeze-dried dinners are fast and easy). Pack staples like grains, beans, spices, salt and sugar on sealable bags and plastic containers while liquid ingredients should be placed in plastic squeeze bottles. Store food where it is easily reachable with the most used ingredients close to the top.

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