hiking supplies are laid out ready to be packed

Must-Have Gear for Hiking Trips

Hiking gives you a chance to escape city life and taste the fresh air in the mountains. However, hiking is not an activity that should be undertaken without the proper gear and preparation. With the right gear, you'll have a more enjoyable experience and minimize the chance of getting lost.

GPS Unit

The days of stuffing a few worn maps into your hiking backpack are gone. With a GPS unit, you can have instant access to the latest map data for your planned hiking route. If you find yourself off the trail, you can use the GPS unit for easy directions back to the proper route. You can also find similar functionality through GPS apps on your smartphone. Even with these technological tools, however, it's not a bad idea to bring a map or two as backup in case your device runs out of power.

Water Containers

Besides the extra weight, there are few downsides to carrying more water than you expect to drink. To stay hydrated during your adventure, keep a water bottle close at hand with extra water stored in your backpack. If you're journeying to remote areas, bring water treatment options, including chemical tablets and water purifiers.

Extra Food

Even if you're only planning a short trip, it's not a bad idea to bring along some extra snacks. Unexpected delays on the trail, such as taking pictures or chatting with a fellow hiker, can make your trip longer than you expected. If you have extra food, you won't need to worry about your supply lasting until you get back to your car or campsite. If you're worried about packing too much weight, take along some lightweight food, such as trail mix and fruit bars.

Hiking Shoes

If you're planning a multiday trip through Grand Canyon National Park, you'll need to equip your feet with something better than a pair of tennis shoes. A good pair of shoes designed for hiking may help prevent some common hiking problems, including blisters and worn ankles. Spend some time breaking in your new hiking shoes before you leave on a long hike. If you have extra room, consider bringing extra socks in case your original pair gets wet or wears out.

First-Aid Kit

A first-aid kit can provide the necessary materials to deal with a number of typical injuries on the trail, including bug bites and minor scrapes. A good kit should include a variety of essential items, such as adhesive bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, tweezers and gloves. Be sure to check on your kit each time you head out the door; you will need to replace used and expired items.

Sun Protection

Protecting your skin from the sun is a good way to prevent sunburn and dehydration. If you put sunblock on before you leave for your hike, bring the bottle along so that you can apply another layer later. If you want to forgo the sunblock, you'll need to wear a hat, pants and a long-sleeved shirt to keep the sun off your skin.

Last Updated: December 16, 2014