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The hiking checklist

How to pack for your adventure

Planning a hike? Unsure of what to carry? Our hiking checklist will help you get kitted out for a long day on the trail.

The pack

Your backpack should be roomy enough to carry all your required kit but not be bursting at the seams. Depending on the pack-size of your gear, a 25-40L backpack is likely to be sufficient enough for a long day hike. Not only do backpacks come in a variety of different sizes, but there's tons of features available; from bladder pouches to walking pole holders.

Some additional items that can help organise and protect your pack are:

  • Pack liner - An added layer of internal protection if rain is a serious possibility.
  • Dry bags - Useful for organisation and protection. These are excellent at keeping kit dry.
  • Fitted pack cover - Some packs have these already built in, or you can purchase them separatly to specifically fit the size of your pack.
hiking checklist

Clothing

man hiking mountains

Your clothing requirements will definitely vary depending on seasonal climate and location specific weather. Research the area you plan to hike and prepare accordingly.

Here’s the essentials.

  • Footwear – You’ll be spending hours on the trail so it is important to have comfortable, supportive shoes which offer adequate protection. Hiking boots or trail runners are a must.
  • Gaiters – Gaiters are useful if the ground is going to be damp or muddy. They won’t make footwear waterproof but they will help you avoid splashes and rainfall running onto your socks plus they're great at keeping out debris.
  • Hiking socksBreathable hiking socks keep your feet ventilated as much as possible and provide some cushioning. A spare pair ensures that a little rain doesn’t dampen your spirits or, opt for waterproof socks instead.
  • Base layer – The ideal base layer will wick away sweat when your engaged in strenuous activity but will also keep you warm in windy or cold conditions. Merino wool is a great choice of material.
  • Mid-layer – Your mid layer’s breathability and thickness should be chosen based on the location and weather. It will help retain the heat that wasn’t captured by your base layer. Fleece is the most common material of choice.
  • Outer layer – Your outer layer is your wind break or your waterproof layer (probably both). Your waterproof jacket and trousers should be light, breathable and have a waterproof and breathability rating of 10,000 and above.
  • Trousers/Shorts – Water-resistant hiking trousers are a useful item to own, especially those which zip off into shorts.
  • Sunglasses – If it’s sunny there’s a good chance you’ll be needing to protect your eyes, even in winter.
  • Buff - a buff weighs next to nothing and can be incredibly handy at keeping you warm. Wear it around your head, your neck or over your face.
  • Gloves and hat - a warm hat and gloves are essential in cooler weather. In warmer months you'll want to ditch the gloves and swap your beanie for a hat that will protect you from the sun.

If you're planning a multi-day hike, you'll need to pack additional clothes like spare underwear and clean clothes for when you're in your tent/accommodation or if you get a soaking. You may also want to pack an insulated jacket which you can throw on if the temperature drops or you stop for a while. They aren't great in the rain but they do an excellent job at instantly warming you up.

Our Ultimate Guide to layering Our wet weather gear guide

Kit

walking kit

You’re going to be relying on your core kit at both the best and worst of times. Only pack what you need, you don't want to be weighed down, but do ensure you have all the essentials for a safe, enjoyable hike. The more walks you do, the more you'll learn about what you do and don't need.

  • A map – You may be familiar with the route but it is still important to be prepared. A paper map is essential for both your safety and for the enjoyment of your hike (remember, technology cannot always be relied on so it's important to have a back up map).
  • A compass – Weighing next to nothing, a compass is an incredibly important tool to have around. Whether in an emergency or just orienteering your way to your destination, be sure to pack a compass.
  • Waterproof map/phone case - You never know when the heavens will open in Great Britain! Be prepared with a waterproof map case and phone pouch which will allow you to navigate in the rain.
  • Hydration – A hydration reservoir or a sturdy water bottle sounds obvious but be sure to think about how much water you may require. Dehydration is a commonplace ailment while hiking so always carry more than you require.
  • First Aid Kit – Special first aid kits for walkers are incredibly compact and easy to carry. They can be vital in a sticky situation but also make a trip more comfortable (blister plasters, we’re looking at you).
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent - this is a must in warmer months! Keep those critters away with a decent repellent and choose a sun cream with at least 50 SPF.
  • Foil blanket - It's a good idea to keep a thermal blanket at the bottom of your pack for emergencies. It weighs so little you'll hardly notice it.
  • A torch/headtorch – As well as a useful tool for overnight trips, a torch or headtorch is an important piece of safety kit in case you get lost or misjudge your timings.
  • Power bank - Solar-powered chargers are great for longer trips where you may have limited access to electricity. They are also lightweight and easy to carry, slotting in nicely down the back of your pack.
  • Micro towel - Whether you're day tripping or staying overnight, a lightweight micro towel can come in handy. Dry your wet face from the rain, take a bush shower or mop up split tea! For longer trips you may want a larger version.
  • Walking poles - Full-adjustable poles are particularly useful if you suffer from sore knees and they come in handy when trying to keep your balance over tricky terrain.
  • Snacks – Although not technically kit, snacks still deserve a mention. Having dense, easy to stow, high energy snacks will be necessary if you’re planning on hiking any distance. Summer + chocolate do not work well!
  • Stove, gas, bowl, mug, spork - You may like the flexibility of being able to eat when, where and what you want. Even if you're not planning on cooking, a mug and spork always come in handy, especially if purchasing food and drink from a supermarket.
  • Multi-tool - From slicing a fresh baguette to opening a bottle of beer, multi-tools have an array of uses and can help fix up kit and overcome challenges you may experience on the trail.

If you're planning a multi-day hike, you'll also want to think about your shelter (where you will sleep), your sleep system (sleeping bag, mat, pillow), overnight toiletries and additional food and water.

Now you're ready to pack you bags and plan your next walk! If you have a handy item that lives in your hiking pack that isn't on our list, let us know in the comments below or tag us on social media.

Edited: 26.08.2021