Best packing list for hiking

If you are just about getting into hiking, or just never really sure what to pack, it’s a good idea to have the best hiking packing list before you pack your backpack. This way you won’t forget anything anymore when on a trip.

You don’t want to pack too heavy, because then you need to carry all the extra weight with you.
But you also don’t want to forget anything and then freeze, or get hungry or can’t see because you are hiking in the dark.


First of all, before you get started with packing take a piece of paper/or open a document on your laptop and to ask yourself a few questions:

  • how long will you be hiking?
  • are you starting early/coming back late (in the dark)?
  • how’s the weather? (cold, rainy, snowy, hot, windy)
  • how’s the route? (flat, mountain, wetland, etc.)
  • is there a lunch/refill opportunity on your route or do you need to pack enough food/water?
  • any informations about danger: snakes, ticks, mosquitoes, or wild animals?
  • are you hiking alone or with others? If you hike with others check what they already might have, so you don’t need to pack everything double

After all that, read through the following list/recommendations and see what you need, have already or need to purchase.
If you gonna go hiking for the first time, and not sure if this is something you like to do more often, first of all ask friends, family if you can rent some stuff from them before you buy new expensive things, or take a look for second hand to save some money. Only boots and backpack need to fit perfect and should be your own gear.

If you have all the informations for your trail, let’s go have a look for what you might need.

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What to wear hiking

It depends on a few different factors what you need to wear hiking.

First of all your personal factor: 

you like to wear leggings or rather hiking pants? Are you sweating much/not so much at all?

How long will you be hiking or backpacking?

Then the external factor: 

How is the weather supposed to be? Will it be cold, is it maybe colder where you are on your trail (if you are going for a mountain hike)? Will it become really hot/sunny? Or rainy….

After that take a look for the route. Is it gonna go up and down hill?
Is there maybe any chance you need to walk through wet land, water? 

Is it gonna be very unstable to walk (many small stones, sand)? This is important for the shoes. I am somebody who would like to use high shaft boots there because my ankles are a little weak. But my boyfriend hates high shafts, he feels better with low ones.

Packing list for hiking: essentials

Some essentials everybody will need, no matter if you hike for a few hours or a few days:

  • Backpack*: a smaller light backpack for day trips (needs to fit perfectly or you might get problems like neck pain, back pain, etc.) a bigger one for a longer trip…
  • good fitting shoes (high shaft, low shaft, water proof, lightweight,) Read more about how to find the right hiking shoes in my blog post-> “Best hiking boots”
  • comfy pants or leggings
  • shirt and jacket (even in summer, if you go uphill it might become colder quickly)
  • good fitting underwear
  • good socks
  • water bottle*/hydration pack*
  • snacks
  • a bag for your trash (leave nothing behind but footprints)
For rainy days
  • a rain coat/waterproof jacket
  • rain pants
  • rain cover for your backpack (some backpacks come with a rain cover already)
  • water proof shoes
  • a second pair of socks
For cold days
For hot sunny days

You need to drink more if it’s really hot so get a big hydration-pack or one/two filter bottles or taps to make water drinkable so you can drink from every fresh water source without being afraid of contamination.
You also need to drink enough when hiking in winter. You might feel less thirsty but remember to drink enough!! 
Read more: How much water you need when dayhiking


Personal items / Accessories

This is a recommendation for personal items you might need/like to carry with you. I always have my hiking packing list written on a piece of paper/printed to check everything to that I don’t forget my favorites;)

  • Cash
  • ID
  • permits if you need them for national parks, camping etc.
  • cell phone/power bank/GPS
  • a good map
  • always leave a hiking itinerary with family or friends. Just in case if anything happens to you and they don’t hear from you they can call help.
  • hankies (try use reusable cotton hankies, no trash to carry)
  • biodegradable soap (if you stay over night or wash in a stream)
  • toilet paper or a carry on bidet*
  • binoculars
  • bamboo toothbrush*, natural toothpaste/tablets
  • lip balm (I always get very dry lips while hiking, and I love this natural DIY lip balm)
  • a menstrual cup – lunette* is the one I have and I love it.. (A menstrual cup is perfect for activities. Diving, long hikes, swimming…. No trash involved.)

Best hiking food/snacks

This is a very personal topic too. Some people love all those small energy sachets, bars, power foods. I personally don’t like them. I find them too expensive mostly and the taste…. well… like I said, a very personal thing 😉 I like fresh, self made snacks. I will link to some natural prepackaged food too, but you will also find some inspirations for your own snacks on the blog.

Snacks packed with energy and good fat is great for hiking. The longer you walk, the more energy you need. In winter you need even more, but we talk about that in a different blog post.

I always wrap my self made sandwiches in bees wax wrap/or other reusable bags so I don’t carry any disposables with me. I carry a collapsable/foldable silicone or stainless steel container with me for salad. For now I only carry refillable bottles with me. My friends all recommend a hydration pack though.

If you don’t carry anything disposable with you, nothing can left behind.

So my favorite snacks/food for the trail:

  • nuts
  • fruits
  • the favorite chocolate (not recommended on hot days though) 😉
  • sandwiches
  • buckwheat/couscous/pasta/rice salad
  • self made energy balls/müsli bars
  • overnight oats

Packing list for hiking: equipment

Hiking equipment is a very individual thing too. Some people like to have all the newest technique with them, others like to hike rather minimalistic. So I will recommend a few gadgets, equipment but in the end? You need to find out what you really need (want).

If you hike over night or might even camp
First Aid:

last but not least pack your personal first aid kit for hiking.

  • personal medication
  • blister tape
  • bandages
  • sterile compresses
  • disinfectant spray
  • ibuprofen/aspirin
  • bee/wasp sting kit (if you might be allergic)
  • snake bite kit (if you hike in a snake area)
  • Poison ivy cream

These are only some examples. You see, the first aid kit can include so many different things, but if you don’t hike somewhere where there are dangerous snakes you don’t need to pack a snake bite kit at all. So always check the area before you pack. Make sure to be familiar with everything in your kit, keep it up to date. If you want to feel even more comfortable, go take a first aid class.

Pack light and necessary

Yes you don’t want to pack too heavy, but no you don’t want to forget important things.

Write down your favorites, your personal medications, and check where you are going. Then plan your packing list and you will be fine.

Enjoy nature and hiking. It clears your mind, boosts your immune system and gives you more energy.

Tell me in the comments about your favorite hiking gear or your favorite personal item you don’t want to miss when on the trail.

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