Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities around the world, offering access to unparalleled views of cities, mountains, and unique sprawling landscapes. From exploring the best Fall foliage hikes in the UK to meandering along the trails in and around major cities like Colorado Springs, hiking is one of the best ways to stay active and enjoy the outdoors.

Planning a successful hiking trip requires a fair amount of planning. Before ever stepping out on the trails, hikers must map their route and determine how long they plan to be on the hike. Outdoor adventurers must also make their packing list, determining what hiking gear to include on their excursion. Considering everything from proper attire to nice-to-have electronics, these ten items are a must for hikers, regardless of where they choose to go exploring.

For those looking to invest in some new hiking gear, each entry also includes a highly-rated product recommendation, selected for their hiking friendly features.

Related: Adventurous Wardrobe: The 10 Best Travel Clothes For Women

10 Appropriate Hiking Shoes

Hiker wearing hiking boots standing at an observation point in Zion National Park
Photo by Lydia Venjohn on Unsplash
Hiker wearing hiking boots standing at an observation point in Zion National Park, Utah 

Proper footwear may be the single most important piece of equipment for any hiker preparing to hit the trails. Even the smoothest half-mile walk can quickly turn unpleasant with the wrong shoes.

The right hiking shoes will vary depending on the destination, so advanced research is a must. Scenic Fall foliage hikes in Oregon, for instance, may be short but are often muddy as the state's trademark rain settles in, requiring shoes with plenty of grip and firm ankle support, such as the Vasque Women's Torre AT GTX Waterproof Hiking Boots. Meanwhile, snowy destinations lend themselves to shoes where spurs can be easily attached.

Regardless of the destination, the first step to enjoying the views is having the right footwear to get there.

Popular Women’s Hiking Boots

9 A Reusable Water Bottle

Hydroflask Reusable Water Bottles
Photo by Shrey Gupta on Unsplash
A pair of Hydroflask Reusable Water Bottles on the grass on a sunny day

Water is another vital inclusion on even the shortest hikes. Whether exploring the arid desert of the Southwest or wandering along the coast on one of Acadia National Park's most scenic trails, dehydration can set in without warning.

Thankfully, sturdy, large capacity reusable water bottles, like Hydro Flasks, are plentiful. With hiking-friendly features like metal clips to keep them attached on even the most uneven hikes, no-spill designs, and filtration systems, the right water bottle ensures that staying hydrated is easy on even the longest outings.

8 A Travel-Ready Backpack

A backpacker looking over Zion National Park, Utah, United States
Photo by Presley Roozenburg on Unsplash
A backpacker looking over Zion National Park, Utah, United States

Even the shortest hikes often require more than two hands can carry, so it's unsurprising that a travel backpack is one of the must-have travel accessories for any trip. Travel backpacks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so casual day hikers and hard-core backpacking adventurers can all find their ideal pack.

Many of the most popular hiking backpacks, like Nike Hike, include both a large main compartment for bulkier items and a variety of pockets for smaller essentials, including a water bottle and phone. And given the tendency of many hiking trails to cross paths with water, many of the best travel backpacks (especially for fall) are also made of waterproof material, making it safe to bring even the more delicate accessories, like cameras, along.

  • Product: Nike Hike
  • Price: from $54.97
  • Why Hikers Love This Backpack: Lightweight; Oversized Main Compartment; Convenient Zipper Pockets; Made from Sustainable Materials

7 A Headlamp or Flashlight

A Hiker Looks down a Rocky Cliff with their Headlamp
Photo by Isaac Davis on Unsplash
A Hiker Looks down a Rocky Cliff with their Headlamp

Headlamps and flashlights may seem like hiking gear reserved for more intense explorers, but even those planning a more relaxed stroll along one of the deceptively easy US mountain trails can benefit from packing some emergency essentials.

Particularly in the Fall, when the days quickly get shorter, bringing some extra light in the form of Cyclops® Ranger’s 4-stage Headlamp can provide an extra level of protection if things take longer than expected.

For those who are intentionally spending the night out on the trails, opting for a small headlamp or flashlight is a great way to protect oneself at night while also limiting light pollution, which can interfere with nocturnal wildlife and night sky views.

6 A Sturdy Travel Camera

A woman holding a camera in Beverly Center, L.A.
Photo by JD Castro on Unsplash
A woman holding a camera in Beverly Center, L.A.

One of the joys of hiking is reaching otherwise inaccessible views of the natural landscape. For many, preserving these one-of-a-kind views is as important as taking them in. While more strenuous hikes may prevent packing in more expensive camera equipment, smaller digital cameras can often be slipped into even more compact hiking backpacks.

With modern cameras like the Action Camera Davola 1080P WiFi Sports Camera offering travel-friendly features like waterproof designs, even the most amateur photographers can capture memories of their hiking adventures.

5 A Multi-Use Pocket Knife

A hiker uses the saw on their multi-tool pocket knife
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
A hiker uses the saw on their multi-tool pocket knife

Pocket knives and multi-use tools are a staple for hikers and campers, offering a compact multipurpose tool that is easy to stuff in a backpack or tuck in a back pocket. Knives can be used to cut away overgrowth in the trail or remove painful splinters that are common when enjoying the great outdoors.

Multi-tools like the Gerber Armbar Scout are also great for longer hiking outings, helping with food preparation, and other tasks around the campsite. In emergency situations, pocket knives can also help with cutting clothes and making emergency shelters, making it a must-pack hiking item for even the best-planned hike.

  • Product: Gerber Armbar Scout
  • Price: from $44.99
  • Why Hikers Love This Multi-Use Tool: 7 Tools Included; Easy-Carry Pocket Clip; Lifetime Warranty; Compact Design; Stainless Steel Material

4 Sun Protection

A hiker in the woods wearing a hat and sunglasses
Photo by Old Youth on Unsplash
A hiker in the woods wearing a hat and sunglasses to protect from the sun's rays. 

The sun is an ever-present companion on any hiking trail. Even exploring Fall foliage on the often-overcast trails of Washington state, the sun is never far away. When it comes to counteracting the sun’s rays, there are several forms of sun protection that hikers can pack to keep themselves comfortable.

While hikers should always put on a healthy layer of sunscreen before hitting the trails, those embarking on longer hikes should also pack some in their bags to reapply throughout the day. In addition to some easy-to-apply sunscreen, some extra eye protection in the form of sunglasses or a hat is also a must, particularly for those hiking at higher elevations where the sun’s rays are more intense. Travelers often seek out durable, non-slip sunglasses like Under Armour’s Playmaker Polarized Sunglasses that can stand up against both the sun and the occasional accidental drop on the rocky terrain.

  • Product: Under Armour Playmaker Polarized Sunglasses
  • Price: from $120.00
  • Why Hikers Love These Sunglasses: Polarized Lenses; Water/Smudge-Resistant; Impact Resistant; Adjustable Nose Pads; Auto-lock Stop Hinge at Temples; Lightweight

Related: Outside The City: 10 Best Hikes You Can Do Near Seattle

3 Overnight Shelter

A person in a tent camping in Yosemite National Park
A person in a tent camping in Yosemite National Park

Many of the best hikes in the US cannot be completed in a single day, offering even more spectacular views as the night sky illuminates the trail. For those interested in undertaking one of the many multi-day hikes around the world, some extra hiking gear is necessary.

As much as overnight travelers may hope to enjoy sleeping under the stars, packing some overnight shelter is a must in case of adverse weather or unexpected challenges. Thankfully, ultra-compact single-person tents like the ALPS Mountaineering Lynx Tent make it simple to bring some extra coverage along, even if it doesn’t prove necessary.

  • Product: ALPS Mountaineering Lynx Tent
  • Price: from $116.99
  • Why Hikers Love This Backpacking Tent: Quick-Clip Pole Assembly; Freestanding Design; Well-Ventilated Design; Lightweight; Mesh Pockets; Easy Set-Up

2 Backpacking Sleeping Bag

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A Travelling Sleeping Bag
Image by Hans from Pixabay
A Travelling Sleeping Bag

Regardless of whether travelers are planning to enjoy the natural night sky views or want to hunker down in a pop-up tent, all overnight hikers need a compact sleeping bag. Even in desert destinations like Texas, where daytime temperatures can exceed 100 degrees, night temperatures frequently plummet 20 to 40 degrees.

Protecting one’s body from these extreme fluctuations is a must for any successful multi-day hike. Many hike-ready sleeping bags, like the Lightweight Camping Hiking Backpacking Carry Bag, can be stuffed into a small bag and weigh around three pounds, keeping this hiking necessity from monopolizing space in the backpack.

Related: 10 Things Hikers Should Pack For A Multi-Day Hiking Trip

1 A First Aid Kit

An open first aid kit
Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash
An open first aid kit. More compact first aid kits are just one of the things hikers should pack when planning to go out. 

No matter how carefully one has planned their hike, accidents are bound to happen eventually. From splinters to small cuts, injuries are a part of the hiking experience. Given the commonality of these small scrapes and bumps, even the most casual hiker benefits from including a small first aid kit in with their hiking gear.

Many popular first aid kits include standard bandages and gauze to quickly cover basic injuries, as well as tweezers or safety pins to remove splinters. More comprehensive hiking-oriented first aid kits, like the Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight Medical Kit, also include compression bandages, splints, and gloves for more serious injuries, helping hikers feel confident and prepared as they head into America’s backcountry.

  • Product: Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight Medical Kit
  • Price: from $29.69
  • Why Hikers Love This First Aid Kit: Pain Medication; Numerous Bandages and Gauze Sizes; Moleskin; Duct Tape; Safety Pins and Tweezers; Antihistamine; Antibiotics and Antiseptics; Small, Easy-to-Carry Pack; Waterproof Carrier