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The Ultimate Checklist For Hiking Essentials
Much like camping, we Australians have an eternal love affair with hiking. There's just something so alluring about connecting with the great outdoors and exploring the unknown. Experienced hikers will know all too well about the importance of being prepared, especially when hiking in the harsh and remote areas of Australia's unforgiving landscape. However, if it's your first time venturing out into the exotic and untamed beauty that is the Australian outback, then it's crucial that you know what equipment for hiking you will need to take along with you.
Is it your first time hiking? Or maybe you are planning a big trip with friends and family and want to make sure that you don't forget anything? From what important equipment for hiking to take to what should be in everyone's hiking kit, our camping and hiking experts at Anaconda have created the ultimate hiking essentials checklist to make sure that everything goes according to plan.
- Most Commonly Asked Questions
- Essential Equipment For Hiking
- Hiking Clothing You'll Need
- Hiking Footwear To Take
- Food To Take
- Water To Take
- First Aid
- Navigation & Communication
- Tools & Hygiene Items
Most Commonly Asked Questions
What is trekking vs hiking?
There are a lot of similarities between the two, so it's easy to get confused - but there is a difference. Hiking, also known as 'wandern' in German, is defined as the act of taking a long and energetic walk along hiking trails in a natural environment overnight or for a day. Trekking, on the other hand, is defined as the act of hiking for an extended period of time, usually for multiple days at a time.
How heavy is too heavy for a backpack when hiking?
There is no 'official weight capacity' that is universal when it comes to backpack weight because each individual is different in terms of how much weight they can carry by themselves. However, as a rule of thumb, a hiking backpack shouldn't weigh more than 20 percent of your body weight when going on a hike.
What should you NOT bring hiking?
There are a few things that you should definitely not bring with you when you are hiking. As you will most likely hiking under the hot Australian sun, taking raw meat with you is not a good idea, unless it is kept completely cold/frozen in a portable cooler. It's also not a good idea to bring along delicate foods such as bananas or peaches as they can easily get bruised when walking along rocky and uneven terrain.
Is it better to hike in jeans or leggings?
While it may be tempting to hike in a pair of leggings because they are so incredibly comfortable, a big drawback is that they don't offer the same level of protection as proper hiking pants do. For example, leggings are made from thin material which means lots of bugs and insects can still get you through leggings. Another benefit of hiking pants is that they offer resiliency to changing temperatures while providing reinforced protection.
What should a beginner take hiking?
We will cover this more in-depth throughout this hiking essentials guide, but here are the top ten things everyone needs to have on their hiking checklist:
- A first aid kit
- Equipment to start a fire
- Sunscreen and sun protection
- Navigation equipment
- A pocket knife
- Shelter like a hiking tent
- Food such as camp meals
- Lighting for when it gets dark
Essential Equipment For Hiking
To make sure you avoid the awkward situation of reaching into your hiking pack and realising you've forgotten to bring one of the most crucial hiking essentials, we've broken down and explained all the essential hiking gear you'll need to bring:
As most hikes will usually last for the day, you will first need to start with a good daypack. You will want a backpack that is able to hold a large amount of items yet is comfortable enough to wear throughout the entire day without giving you grief. Even though we have an in-depth guide on how to choose a hiking backpack, here are some of the main factors to consider when choosing a daypack for hiking:
- Make sure your daypack has a waist belt as this will transfer a lot of the weight onto your hips and save your shoulders from carrying most of the weight.
- Ensure it has a rain cover or is made from water-resistant material and has a DWR finish, as the last thing you want on a long hike is to discover that the inside of your bag is completely soaked.
- Make sure that the straps have efficient padding, otherwise your daypack will dig into your shoulders the entire hike which is not ideal. Also make sure that the straps are easily adjustable and that it fits properly.
- As it will be receiving some wear and tear along the way, ensure your daypack is made from durable materials such as Vinylon F and ripstop nylon.
Walking poles are sometimes an afterthought when it comes to what to bring on a hike. Most commonly associated with the Finnish outdoor activity called Nordic Walking, walking poles are designed to provide additional stability during your hike. It's completely up to you if you want to bring a pair of walking poles along on your hike - but they become more essential the longer your hike is and if you are lugging around a lot of weight in your backpack.
Next on your hiking checklist is clothing. Depending on the environment you are hiking or trekking in, you will want either light and breathable clothes or something warm and layered. But either way, you will always want durable and protective hiking clothing.
Here's a breakdown of what types of layers to consider:
The base layer is basically the clothing that will be touching your skin, so we are talking underwear and thermals. As you will be walking and being active, you will want something comfortable and breathable so you aren't getting sweaty early on into your hike. If you're hiking in cold conditions, then you will want to make sure you have a good pair of thermals and leggings made from material such as moisture-wicking merino wool.
The middle layer is basically the insulation component of your hiking outfit. This means fleece apparel is going to be your go-to. When hiking during the colder months, clothing such as fleece jackets and jumpers are going to provide excellent insulation, whereas fleece tops and pants are great for hiking in hotter weather because they are fast drying.
The outer layer is going to be what protects you from the elements such as snow, rain and wind. If you're hiking during wet weather, then you're going to need a good raincoat and waterproof pants. If you're hiking high up in the mountains where it's extremely cold and snowing, then you're going to need snow apparel like snow pants and snow jackets to keep you warm. If the weather is a bit warmer, then you can definitely get away with a high-quality puffer jacket.
When it comes to footwear for hiking, your main choices will be between hiking shoes or hiking boots. It all depends on your personal preference, the type of terrain and how long you will be hiking for. Most hiking shoes will offer a great level of durability, comfort and protection for day hikes. If you are going on a longer trek or hiking on very rocky terrain, then hiking boots will offer a more superior level of support on your ankles and feet.
There's nothing worse than hiking in a remote area and realising that you haven't brought enough food. As most hikes are only for a few hours, bringing along energising snacks that are loaded with nutrients is going to easily last you. If you're camping longer or overnight, camp food such as dehydrated meals are a quick and easy way to enjoy a delicious and nutritious meal without needing to prep ingredients and bring along all the equipment required.
The most essential item on any hiking equipment list is water, so no checklist for hiking essentials is complete without making sure you have a hydration pack or a good-sized water bottle. When it comes to how much water to bring along on a hike, a good measurement is to bring half a litre of water for every hour you are hiking. Of course, you will need to adjust this amount according to the intensity of your hike and the temperature.
Whether you're planning a trek for a few days or an overnight hike packing list, you must never set out without packing a first aid kit. You should always have first aid supplies on hand to deal with minor injuries such as scrapes, cuts and blisters, no matter how unlikely an incident may occur. For more detailed information, check out our guide to what should be in your first aid kit.
Communication & Navigation
Because you will be hiking in remote areas, it will be most likely that you will have little to no reception, which isn't exactly ideal should an emergency happen. This is why communication and navigation gear is another important box to tick on your hiking essentials checklist. For example, a global satellite communicator will make sure you always have reception on your phone and can make calls and texts, no matter where you hike in Australia.
Tools & Safety Items
Rips and tears can happen and are a part of life, but when you are out hiking, you will need to make sure that you can repair those rips and tears when they happen. This is why it's a great idea to pack some gear aid in your hiking kit. And as you never know what might happen during your hike, make sure you are carrying a multi-tool like a pocket knife in your daypack as well. This is great for tasks such as opening up packaging, food handling and survival situations in extreme cases.
As mentioned before, most hikes will only last the day, but if you're planning to take some overnight hiking essentials, then you're going to have to consider lighting. As you will be hiking, you'll want your hands free, so lighting such as headlamps is going to suit you best. They are also great for bringing along if you are hiking in dark areas such as caves.
Hiking Tent & Sleeping Bag
When it comes to what to take for an overnight hike packing list, you will definitely need to consider shelter and a comfortable place to sleep. There are plenty of hiking tents that can easily roll up and fit into your daypack without taking up too much room and offer plenty of shelter from the outside elements. You will also want to bring along a hiking sleeping bag that will make sure you stay comfortable and warm throughout the night.
If it's your first time hiking and want to make sure that you are bringing everything that you will need, then follow our hiking essentials for beginners guide and make sure that you have everything you need for your hike.
Whether you need to know what essential equipment for hiking you need to take, where the fish are biting near you, tips on delicious camping meals to make and much more, make sure you regularly check out our Adventure Centre.