What to Bring on a Hike

Hiking is one of those activities that you never feel bad about after you’ve finished.  Sure, some days it takes a little longer to convince yourself you should go, but once you start moving it’s always worth it.  To make your hike more enjoyable you will want to know what to bring on a hike.

bring on a hike

On a smaller hike you can probably get away with slapping on a pair of shoes and getting out on the trail, but for a longer hike you want to be prepared.

What constitutes as a longer hike?  Well, I think it might depend on who you are hiking with.  If it’s just my husband and I hiking (and let’s be honest, that hasn’t really happened in 13 years which is how old my oldest child is) we could do a short 1 km hike without bringing anything.  Heck, if I’m honest I’ll admit that I’ve done those shorter hikes in my flip flops (which I don’t recommend.  You know, do as I say, not as I do….)

But if I have my kids with me I might bring some things on even a 1 km hike. Because let me ask you this:  have you ever been on a hike with a kid who is hungry, thirst, too hot, too cold, has a shoe that doesn’t fit just right, has a sock that rubs them the wrong way, etc. etc.etc.

As bad as that last paragraph sounds my kids actually do very well hiking.  We’ve hiked with them since they were babies and so they kind of just grew up that way.  We do always need to pick hikes that the youngest who is 8 can manage.  And while we won’t be doing any 10k hikes with the kids anytime soon, the kids can manage a 1 or 2k hike.

Whether you are going for a long hike or a shorter hike, you can still pack a backpack with key essentials to make the hike memorable – in a good way.  Ain’t nobody want to remember a hike for how horrible it was.

So, let’s talk about some good things to bring on a hike.


This post contains affiliate links.  Please see our full disclosure policy HERE.


Honestly, we like to eat in this house and so snacks rank as number one up there.  Sure, things like a first aid kit, water, and even a compass sound like they should be top of the list and for most people they probably should.  But have you ever seen my family hangry?  I have, and it ain’t pretty.  Okay, okay, I ‘ve seen myself hangry and it ain’t pretty.

Plus, as I said, we have kids and let me tell you, they LOVE hiking if I keep feeding them.  If you REALLY want to encourage your kids to go hiking bring snacks that they LOVE but you don’t normally buy.  They will be looking forward to that hike from the moment you mention those special snacks.

But in all seriousness, what kind of snacks should you bring?  High protein snacks like trail mix and beef jerky are great options, with some fruit like apples and oranges.  You don’t want to bring snacks that will make you feel sluggish (yes, Amanda, that means put down the pastries….)



I think we all know how important it is to stay hydrated, especially when being physically active.  Combine that with being out on a hot day and you will want to make sure you bring a good supply of water.  Some hiking backpacks actually have a hydration pack built in which we will talk about later, but if you want a good old fashioned waterbottle, try this one that collapses when not in use to save on space.



Let me tell you, there are few things that ruin a beautiful hike faster than a swarm of mosquitos attacking you.  Bring your bug spray, especially during spring.  If you are going far into the woods I recommend some strong bug spray like this one.



Years ago our family went on a hike when our youngest fell and cut himself on a rock.  It wasn’t enough to send us to the hospital, but deep enough to bleed quite a bit and make a 3 year old very, very upset.  We quickly made our way back to our vehicle which was probably about ten minutes but felt more like an eternity with all the very passionate crying going on.  If we had a first aid kit we could have dealt with the cut, put a fun band aid on him, and diffuse the situation.

A first aid kit is beneficial because sometimes you are quite a ways away from your vehicle or civilization and you may need to tend to a wound.  You can get travel size ones like this one that fit nicely into a backpack.



To me this really depends on where you are going.  We go on many small trails in conservation areas that are well marked and you aren’t very far from where you started at any given time.  However, if you are going on a bigger hike that is less frequented, I would definitely bring a compass or a map just in case.



Coming back from a hike completely sun burnt is nobody’s idea of a good time.  Bring sunscreen to protect your skin against the elements.



Again, this is more necessary if you are going on a longer hike.  If you think you will be out for hours or all day, or even on an overnight hike you will want to dress in layers.  Of course, you don’t want to be weighed down in stuff so think about what is easy to carry.  A rain jacket with a hood can easily be tied around your waist if it gets too warm.  A pair of gloves and a toque is small enough to fit in your backpack.



If you are going on a hike later in the day take a flashlight, even if you don’t plan to be out past dark.  It can easily take longer than you thought and trying to get back in the dark is not as easy when you are out in the woods.  Try one of these headlamps so you don’t have to physically carry it but can just stick it on your head and go.



If you were to get lost on your hike or got stuck somewhere in the woods overnight you will be thankful you can make a fire.  Along with matches (Try these ones that are storm proof)  you can bring some fire starter as well just in case.



I mean, really, when does a pocket knife NOT come in handy?  Whether you need it to open up your snacks (priorities here, people) or use it to shave wet wood, or to pull out a splinter from your skin, you shouldn’t be without your pocket knife.  I’m a big fan of the Swiss Army knives.



This may seem obvious, but in case it wasn’t, you’ll want a decent backpack to hold all your goods in.  Many hiking backpacks now come with a hydration pack in it as well. Try this one or this one that are very functional for hiking.



You may be hiking on some difficult terrain and your feet will thank you if you are wearing proper footwear.  Don’t wear flip flops.  You’ll always regret it.  Ask me how I know.



Hiking is a great activity that most people can do to some extent.  There are hikes for every skill level, and every age.  It’s a great way to spend time with your family and get exercise.  The sights you will see on your hikes will be worth the trip.  But you want to be prepared so you can enjoy the hike to it’s fullest.  When you are thinking about what to bring on a hike, use this list to  make sure you don’t miss a single thing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *