8 Essential Things Every Hiker Should Carry

Summer is a time for outdoor activity.  Many of us will find ourselves hiking, camping, or just going on long walks.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to make up a list of what I consider the most important things a hiker should have in his possession.

You will develop a healthy respect for both Nature and Fortune if you spend time outdoors.  Nature gives much, but she is neutral when it comes to protecting our safety.  Fortune is also fickle.  You need to be prepared if things go wrong, because they usually will go wrong.  The following is only a list of my own ideas.

1. Map And Compass

It is a sad fact that many people today have no idea how to use a map and compass.  The GPS is a great tool, but if you lose it, you will need to know how to use the old-school tools.  Let’s begin with maps.  You should have a couple of them that completely cover the area you are hiking in.  You need topographical maps that show contours, scales, and distances, not the junk “maps” you find in guidebooks or hotels.


The U.S. Geological Survey is one of the few government agencies that has its act together: go to their site and get the maps you need.  Make sure you get more than one, and laminate them for durability in the field.  Make sure you get maps with the right scale for the job.  In general, scales of 1:62,500 or better are good for hiking.  The National Geographic Trails Illustrated series also makes great maps.

Land navigation is a subject near and dear to my heart.  A lot of time is spent teaching the subject to Marine lieutenants, and even after twenty-five years, I still remember most of the important points.  I’m not going to go over all the arcane things like “shooting azimuths” and other topics, but you should at least know how to orient (or “orientate”) a map.

First, you need a good compass.  Get one of those compasses used for orienteering (Silva makes the best ones).  Remember that magnetic north and true north are not the same.  “Magnetic declination” is the name for the angle between the two.  Most good maps will have this in the legend.  You must remember to correct for magnetic declination.  With some compasses, you can do it by setting the compass itself.  If not, then you’ll need to remember to add or subtract the declination.  It’s just like adding or subtracting a correction factor.

If the declination is given as west, just add the declination to zero degrees.  If the declination is given as east, then subtract the declination number from zero.  Use the memory device:  east is least to remember this point.

When you orient a map, you are just making sure that what appears on the map corresponds with what you see in front of you.  The idea is that the map should be lined up with “true north.”  Put the compass on the map, and rotate both of them together so that the compass needle and the orienting arrow on the map are in alignment.

2. Flashlight


You never know when you will need these.  I like small Maglites.  Remember to bring spare batteries.  Some guys swear by headlamps, and that’s fine, but I’m not convinced you need them for regular hiking.

3. Food And Water

Food for thought

No matter what happens, you will get hungry.  No one ever hiked around all day and said they were not hungry.  I’m personally partial to military surplus MREs (meals ready to eat), but they seem to be a lot more expensive now than they used to be.  Check out military surplus stores and see what you can find there.  They have come a long way in twenty-five years, believe me.  The days of the freeze-dried hocky-puck “pork patty” are long gone.

I also like to bring a lot of dried meat.  I make my own, actually, and you’d be surprised how easy it is.  Just get a cheap cut of meat, slice it into thin strips, and marinate in a mix of liquid smoke, soy sauce, red pepper flake, and teriyaki sauce.  Hang on a rack and dry in front of a blowing fan.  Beef jerky is one of man’s great inventions.

4. Multitool


You will swear by these things after a few long hikes.  Gerber and Leatherman seem to be the most popular, and both of them work well.  At the very minimum it should have a decent knife blade, a saw, pliers, ruler, and a can opener.  Cork-screws are useless, by the way.  A decent Swiss Army knife will still work in an emergency.  Better still would be to take both.

5. First Aid Kit


People usually end up going overboard with this piece of gear.  Unless you’re going to be out for more than a day, you don’t need syringes, splints, and complicated medical items.  What you do need is a first aid kit that can deal with blisters, cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites, or bad allergy issues.  On the other hand, if you are out in the field for more than a day, be sure to have a more extensive medical kit.  The kit should have bandages, painkillers, bandages, gauze pads, antibiotic creams, and moleskin.  I like to pack everything in Tupperware containers for waterproofing.  Make sure your kit has a signaling device of some kind (e.g., a mirror).

6. Poncho

Grandpa Simpson is not a Red Pill role model

Bring this or some other reliable rain protection.  Ponchos are better, though, since you can lie on them.

7. Some Way To Start A Fire

fire small

Lots of choices here.  Windproof lighters are generally fine, but you can also get flint and steel kits, or waterproof matches in plastic cases.  They all work.

8. Sunscreen And Insect Repellent


You’d be surprised how important these are.  My favorite sunscreen now is one you can buy at CVS Pharmacy.  It’s called “Sport Sunstick” and has a broad spectrum SPF 55.  It doesn’t sweat off, it’s water resistant, and is hypoallergenic.  It also comes in a small Chapstick-style plastic tube for ease of carrying.  Great stuff.

Nobody like insects swarming over them.  From what I’ve read, the most effective ingredient in keeping insects off you is something called DEET.  The best general one for me is “Deep Woods Off!,” which has DEET and can be easily applied with an aerosol spray.

I hope these suggestions help.  One final word.  I won’t add it to this list, but also think—just maybe—about taking some self-defense weapon with you.  Doesn’t necessarily have to be a firearm.  Use your imagination.  You just never know.  And make sure you comply with all state, federal, and local laws in the process.

Read More: The Most Important Trait That Leads Men To Success

104 thoughts on “8 Essential Things Every Hiker Should Carry”

  1. Nice.
    I would suggest a folding camp shovel w/ pick (useful for self defense, though I always have my Ka-Bar too) and a roll of TP, both of which can be helpful for quick latrine needs.

    1. Funny you mentioned the K-Bar…that’s exactly what I use too. The key thing is to get the hard plastic sheath.
      These days, I’m even starting to think that a small pistol is also a key piece of gear. You just never know…

      1. I have the old WW2 style paratrooper knife from Camillus. I usually bring my 1911 with hollopoint and FMJ alternating in the mag, but I go to bear country.
        It’s a norinco so scruffs aren’t an issue. I keep it in a belt leather holster lol.
        What I would add to this list is shelter. There are ultralight tents that pack down to the size of a soda can and weigh nothing. I usually do multiple day treks so I have an axe and a saw, multiple knives, water purification with backup tabs, plus a Swedish Trangia cooker and enough fuel.
        Sometimes I bring a shotgun, if there is hunting to be done. I also have a ultralight fishing setup that breaks down to not much bigger than a large beercan.

        1. You need to register to buy and each gun you have is registered individually but yes.
          Anything up to semi auto is easy enough if it fits in a clear category like handgun, rifle, shotgun. Short carbines are a bit harder, as is anything with a folding stock.
          Full auto can be owned with a collectors license but may not be fired.

        2. Interesting, I was unaware of that, thanks.
          After all these years of listening to the American left wing MSM I was left with the impression that the only Europeans who could even touch a firearm are military and in some cases police.
          Finland I salute you.

        3. It’s possible in most countries but with various rules. Like in NL you have to pass a shooting qualification every year, otherwise you lose the right to have a gun. This is annoying because if you miss it once they can just confiscate anything you have. And they will.

    2. Also, take the cardboard center out of the TP and squish it down. Helps save space in your bag.
      I also like to take Altoid tins and use them for little emergency boxes. You can have an all-in-one or split them out. I have a box for basic first aid items (bandaids, pain killers, Neosporin, etc) and another for creating fires (matches, Bic lighter, cotton balls, candles, etc). With a little ingenuity, you can store a LOT of gear in one of those tins.

        1. I worked with one lady who found out I use the tins and she said “Oh, I can bring you in a few I have laying around.” I told her sure, bring them in. The next morning I come into work and lo and behold there’s one of those large plastic shopping bags full of them laying on my desk. There was over 4 dozen Altoid tins.

        2. She either had very good or very bad breath.
          Hiking. seems fun. I would suggest bringing a large vehicle with air conditioning and a wifi hotspot.

        3. Where I go hiking is about 50km or more from the closest road an off-road vehicle can go, about 25km from where you can get by quad bike. There is no reception for anything other than sat phone. Far north of Finland FTW.

        4. Enjoy man you couldn’t get me there on a dare though

        5. You don’t urban hike? Forage wild greens from cracks in basketball courts, build shelters out of boxes, gig pigeons for dinner with syringe pointed spears?

    3. whistle, signal mirror, and a couple of chem lights if you’re going somewhere fairly remote.

      1. Three chem lights and some paracord never leave my pack. You can get a good twirl going that is more visible from the air. And remember the rule of three for distress signals.

  2. Drying beef in front of a fan? Just stab with bamboo skewers, hang in oven, use cookie sheet as drip pan, and set the oven on it’s lowest setting with door cracked. As in wooden mixing spoon in door to keep it cracked a hair.

    1. I’m not in favor of the “hot” drying method. Why? Because you usually end up cooking or steaming the meat. Not good.
      Try the cool, dry method. Seriously. Hang the strips of marinated meat on a wire rack, put paper towels over that, secure it with rubber bands or bunji cords, and let a fan blow over it for a few hours. Much better results.

      1. I agree, you just need to find the exact time duration to pull from the oven. It’s a fine line between dry yet tender, and dry as a 68 y/o sjw. Also be sure to cut your strips perpendicular to meat grain at consistent widths.

      2. I think top round was my preferred cut, sorry my recent move has thrown a crimp in my cooking. You nailed the marinade though, none of this is fancy

    2. I have done this. But I have a pretty inexpensive dehydrator which works really great for jerky or fruit leather. It was like 35 bucks and has always worked perfectly.

      1. Any cracked oven on low will dehyrate pretty quickly, fan idea seems like a fly invite

        1. Yeah, but the dehydrator is a set contained unit. Kind of like a slow cooker, I set it at night, turn it on and in the morning I have jerky.

        2. I have a mini smoker for salmon and for trout. It is terrific. I have even done scallops and smoked shrimp.
          I also salt cure salmon every now and again. It is simple and pretty freaking delicious.

        3. Smoked scallops? You fucking douche bag spill the beans on your temps and times. What wood do you prefer and do you accompany deez fishs with capers and cream cheese?

        4. Yeah me too and they are pretty good. When I go into full ketosis which I haven’t in a while despite a few tries these smoked bacony bits of protein and fat are my fav

  3. What’s this list for, exactly? Some sort of back-up plan in case you run out of Kratom?

    1. I just take Kratom. Who needs a list?
      A multi-tool is a secondary. You need a knife with at least a 6 in blade to cut and chop wood. Maybe an old Air Force Survival knife. I have a cold steel Spetnaz shovel. They chop and dig.

      1. My dick is the only multi-tool I’ll ever need — so say da bitches.

    2. Kratom makes me piss molten lead. That’s what I use as my fire starter.

  4. Lint mixed with vasoline is still the best fire starter. Ben’s 100 is the gold standard of insect repellent. It’s the one in the orange bottle. Thermacells are great for car camping or easy trips.
    Most importantly, good waterproof boots/trail shoes that won’t give you blisters. Oh, and no cotton. Cotton kills.

    1. Lint mixed with Vasoline? You might already have a supply of it in your shorts…..just kidding

    2. No cotton cuz of how long it takes to dry and how cold it feels when wet?
      I’d imagine those attributes would probably make it quite useful in warmer climes.

      1. Cotton kills. More people die at 50 degrees than they do at 0. You get above treeline, caught in a rain shower and then the wind picks up. If you’re wearing cotton you will chill quicker than a mixed drink filled with ice cubes. At that point your cognitive skills will slip leaving you with a good chance of dying.
        Born and raised and still living – in the White Mtns of NH Ive seen many instances of people hauled off the mtn tops in body bags – during summer. All were wearing cotton and were dressed for a walk in the park.

  5. A coat…..once I went hiking in June in Eastern Oregon, the morning started out beautiful. By the time we got back to the pickup near dark, it was blowing snow. Not fun when all you got is a tee shirt and jeans.

        1. Right on. After witnessing a charging boar look like it ran into a glass wall I’m now a believer in slugs.

  6. Footwear is so important, yet I still see so many people going cheap on their hiking boots, only to find their feet covered in blisters several miles into the trail. Buying a good pair of boots is well worth the cost. Personally, I’ve found Merrell to be the best. I’ve hiked several trails and up several mountains with the same pair of boots (which cost me a little over $100), and never gotten a single blister, plus the tread is still in good shape.
    There is nothing worse than being several miles from your car/base camp with blisters on your feet. I also bring a change of socks when doing longer (6+ mile RT) hikes. Blisters are more likely to break out when your socks are damp with sweat. Drying off your feet and putting on a new pair of socks can make a world of difference and prevent blisters.

    1. ^^ This. Blisters on the first day will ruin your hiking trip, and it will only get worse. It’s as bad as busting your ankle, only your buddies won’t carry you back.

    2. Socks are clutch. I did an arctic survival class and even they stressed extra socks. When you are tired and sleeping in a snow cave, having dry feet makes you feel 1000% better.
      I have had good luck with Hi-Tec boots. You can usually pick a pair up for under $100. All your friends in their $400 Asolos may laugh at you, but I’ve put lots of miles on multiple pairs and never gotten a blister.

      1. I wore Hi-Tec in my Boy Scout days, and outgrew them before they wore out but I do think they are good quality. Also, while I’ve found the quality of some Columbia clothing is poor, their boots have held up well for me.

    3. I just utilize my classic military boots that I saved from my time in the army. Because of this I have boots for every season. If possible, invest in the classic all leather, hot weather and desert ones by Altama. Those boots have served me well for years.

      1. Unfortunately, mine are all gone, but I’m willing to pay $100 for a pair. I remember using Altama and Belleville boots throughout my enlistment. I especially remembered the Marauders. Those things kept my feet nice and comfy doing flightline work.

    4. I wear Merrel running shoes. Never ever have blisters with them. Unless it’s seriously cold you don’t need heavy hiking boot. I’ve climbed mountains in Timberlands. Although they are really sturdy and warm, the extra weight makes everything so much harder.
      Any extra weight on your feet makes climbing exponentially more difficult.

    5. Merrell”s are great. Salomon’s are my current reliable go to. Current Columbia’s are overrated. Heard the same regarding HiTec’s but can’t verify as I’ve never used them.

    6. The old-school hiking boot solution:
      polypropylene sock liners with thick wool socks, all-full-grain-leather Vasques bought from a real outfitter with widths as well as lengths, with at least half-a-dozen coats of Sno-seal literally baked in with the oven on low, broken in a mile or two a day for several days.
      Not one blister on a three-week Sierra Outward Bound — most others got blisters to the point that they had several square inches of moleskin on their feet.
      Other essentials besides those listed in the article:
      frame pack that fits, is properly adjusted and puts most of the load on your hips; durable water bottle, iodine for disinfecting the water (and cuts), DEET mosquito repellant, a little container of vaseline for lips (also useful for fire-starting), several feet of duct tape re-wound off the roll, some baling wire (would have saved a lot of trouble when that pack-strap pin broke on the independent orienteering part), soap such as Campsuds (would have saved most of the group from the shits), toilet paper (ditto. also better than granite chips and pinecones), paracord, tarp, poncho, poly t-shirt (no cotton next to skin, you can get really chilled if it gets wet), fleece pullover, 2 full Bic lighters, freezer Ziplocs, both sizes; a couple or three big black garbage bags
      preferable: a sleeping bag and groundpad for overnight, high quality fleece pants, sunglasses, campstove, pan(s), water filter, folding entrenching tool (preferably sharpened/ multi-function) for latrine, walking stick (may double as camera monopod, personal defense)
      luxury: cellphone/gps (can double as flashlight, first aid guide, nighttime reading, star guide and more), solar charger

    7. Couldn’t agree more. Experience has shown me that the best boots in the world are Limmers. (http://www.limmercustomboot.com/cgi-bin/CustomBoot/index.pl)
      They’re not cheap and you have to wait 2 + years for them to be made. But, for normal use, they will last 1/2 – to a whole -lifetime.
      They are rugged, tough, well made boots and can also be resoled.
      As for socks – the best brand Ive found are Darn Tough. They’re made in Vermont out of mix of synthetic and Merino Wool. They are indestructible and come with a lifetime guarantee. Ive had 5 pairs that Ive worn everyday – year round- working in the woods and they are still without holes. They make an awesome product.

  7. “The GPS is a great tool, but if you lose it, the battery goes dead, you drop it in water, break it, overheats in the sun, crashes from a software bug…”
    -There I fixed it.

  8. I like to take my diesel 4×4 pick up truck when I go hiking, You know so I don’t have to walk anywhere.

  9. One thing I try to stress is the weight of my pack. Not that I’m weak physically, its just better to be efficient and put some thought into what you take. Better to distinguish the purpose of each hike or trip into the woods and customize each pack. When I was a teenager I took so much useless shit with me, didn’t matter if I was camping or hunting. Too much food, too many tools, too many clothes etc. All I needed usually was a knife, compass (if I didn’t know the area very well), water, proper clothing suited to the potential natural factors, and maybe some chow.
    Granted this article is for serious hikers, not hunters or guys trying to have a peaceful bender in the woods occasionally. But, don’t be “that guy”, carrying around too much uselessness all the time. It makes the experience kind of lame, when you should be enjoying your time away from dreadful civilization. Take it from a former “that guy”.

  10. I need to get back around to hiking. Apparently there’s some old growth forest 25 miles from me. Use them ol’ boy scout skills.

  11. Smith & Wesson K frame .357 with a 4 inch barrel, unless your going into bear country.

  12. I recommend lemon essence anti-mosquito spray. It is non-toxic.
    I also recommend padding your gear with cotton wool wads (the thin disc shaped ones). They can be used as toilet paper.
    I have a water carrying belt with two small bottles and a central zipped compartment which holds essentials (phone, map, mosquito spray and car key). It also holds the knife if I don’t have military trousers on. If I do have such trousers on the knife goes in the right hand zipped ammo pocket for quick access.
    Rather than walking try running 30 minutes, walking 5 minutes etc. You’ll be surprised how long you can keep it up.

  13. You forgot a timepiece; if you’re going to be carrying all that long term stuff, a timepiece is nice.

  14. All you dumb motherfuckers just need to watch The Revenant and stomp out there.

  15. I used to buy great DEET wipes, like a wet nap from the rib joint, just wipe your exposed skin and you are good to go. They were great, light weight easy to pack and lasted a while. Couldn’t find them lately.
    Other must have for me is a metal water bottle. Has to be metal in the event you need to boil water. Beaver fever is real, and the last thing you want is to be shitting your pants all trip.

  16. I’d recommend bear spray, too. Probably less necessary if it’s just black bears in your area, but in grizzly country I’d definitely bring a can just in case.

  17. You forgot the one thing that takes the most away from adventure and yet can save your life. A fucking phone. I once got lost in the mountains and would have died if not for a more or less lucky coincidence.

  18. Sunscreen, only necessary for office/cave dwellers. Those of us who work out in the sun 40+ hours a week don’t need it. If you will be hiking on snowfields, though, bring sun protection.
    Insect repellent is not foolproof either. In the great north woods, insect repellent is a condiment added to your juicy flesh for blackflies. Same goes for horseflies. Only a beekeeping getup will protect you in peak season from the former. Out here in the mountain West, the mosquito activity at dawn and dusk can be handled without insect repellent.
    A regular Bic lighter is just fine for starting fires in arid and semi-arid environments. In humid and perhumid environments, good luck, because if your Bic is too wet to light, so is 99.9% of the wood.
    A high-end “designer” flashlight may be the best choice for hiking. I use a 4Sevens Mini MA. It is the size of a finger, takes only 1 AA battery, and can last over three days of all-night hiking on that single battery. Maglites are good build quality but the lightbulb ones are dim and inefficient, while the LED ones lack the energy-saving dim modes essential for a long-term hike.

  19. I think the most important tip is actually to try reducing the total weight of the equipment you’re carrying.
    A man carrying 10 kilos of kit is much more versatile than a man carrying 20+ kilos. Think about it.

    1. True. But there’s a surprising amount of stuff that you might die if you didn’t have, and a lot more that you’d be pretty miserable without. The biggest weight savings is to not stay out more than three or four days. Food is heavy.

  20. Timely article since I plan a week long hike in the Rockies this summer. What about water filters ? Some say that the high alpine spring water is clean enough to drink. Any suggestions ?
    P.S. I’ll let you all know if I find a Kratom spring

  21. I recently purchased a real paper map from an old man in a mapping store. We were alone in the store for about half an hour, and I enjoyed talking to him for at least half an hour. (Typical old man ranting about idiots buying junk at Wal Mart putting everyone else out of business and everyone relying on smart phones).
    He pointed out something very interesting I had not heard before. The GPS satellite system is operated by the US military. GPS satellites send 1) An encrypted signal used by the military, 2) An unencrypted signal used by cell phones, consumer GPS devices, etc., and 3) possibly a police signal (he wasn’t sure if they had a dedicated separate frequency or what).
    In the case of civil emergency, the unencrypted signal can be turned off, leaving the government full use of its encrypted signal. Cell phones and consumer GPS devices are only configured to receive the unencrypted signal, and would be totally dysfunctional. Meanwhile, the government would have full GPS use. Always have a backup. Always.

    1. There is access to other systems such as Galileo and Glonass. However, satellites orbiting the earth is not always going to be a sure thing. I’d say if any of the superpowers go to straight to war with each other their various satellite systems will be the first things they target.

  22. While not an essential item, bring along a small pack of wet wipes. Especially if there are females in the group. You will make instant friends. After a few hours of sweaty hiking, it’s quite relaxing to wipe your face with a clean, damp cloth.

  23. Perhaps summer is prime hiking time for y’all in higher latitudes and/or altitudes.
    Around here, summer hiking requires a knife as you need it to cut the air 🙁
    Unfortunately the hot, muggy Mexican air is the one thing from Mexico that the “Great Wall of Trump” won’t be able to keep out 🙁

  24. I would add in water purifier tablets, a small towel or wash cloth, some nylon rope, and an extra cell phone battery or remote charger (if you get service where you are hiking and if it doesn’t you might want to consider having someone in your party carry a radio). These items do not add bulk and might weight up to 3 pounds total (perhaps 4 with a radio).

      1. ?? Well I know this much, when taking a dump, dig a 6” hole, squat and with your hands pull your ass cheeks as far apart as you can so the shit plops straight out and doesn’t graze the sides of your ass cheeks. With shit grazed ass cheeks, you run the risk of having to sacrifice your one and only towel. Still manly men use leaves but guys often offer up their tee shirt to their squatting girlfriend. Or they sacrifice a good sock. You know how many good tee shirts and boxers you come across on any hiking trail and when you turn ’em over – yikes, shit stain. So shit smart folks.

        1. “A towel, [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy]
          says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar
          hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap
          it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan
          Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of
          Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it
          beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon;
          use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for
          use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious
          fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it
          can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress
          signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be
          clean enough.”
          “More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: nonhitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might have accidentally “lost.”. What the strag will think is that any man that can hitch the length and breadth of the Galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through and still know where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
          Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)”
          -Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

  25. Dont forget to carry a flask of your favorite Kentucky Bourbon, for those incredible firelight moments of relaxation after a long day in the field.

  26. I enjoyed this article.
    I’d add learn to pack wisely. Don’t pack your heavy items at the bottom of your pack or your shoulders are gonna kill you. Pack in such a way that the majority of your pack weight is borne by your hips. Heavy stuff should be packed somewhere in the middle leading towards the top of the pack.
    Accessibility. Your first aid kit is of greater need than sleeping clothes when you’re on the move. Pack at the top.

  27. I always carry some weed. Though one time I was at high altitude and passed out. Came to with bits of gravel in my face and a puffy lip.
    Seriously though, should add “walking stick” to this list. And in the southwest, definitely a broad-brimmed hat.
    Which brings me to “Better Call Saul”. As a long-time New Mexico resident and desert hiker, some of the scenes stretch credulity. Mike sets up a sniper position in the desert, then sits patiently with his hatless bald head for hours in the blistering sun. Would have fried his dome good in actual life. Takes about 15 minutes to get a sunburn in that climate and altitude.

    1. Love New Mexico. I enjoyed some incredible times in the Primitive Area of the Gila Wilderness.

      1. Some years ago I took my son on a fossil hunting trip near Ghost Ranch. We were part of a larger group from UNM. After a couple days we were allowed to use some cabins at Ghost Ranch (I think that’s what it was near Abiquiu) to shower.
        Really struck me what a pleasure it was to be in those simple cabins. No electricity, phones, or TV. It was before the advent of mass cell phone coverage. One could spend a long time there and not miss technology at all.
        Also at night we were laying outside our tent. It was so clear that I could see satellites tracking overhead and an occasional meteor.
        In New Mexico you can be in wilderness in less than an hour from just about anywhere. Bring water though.

  28. Try to have at least three ways of making fire. I carry a Bic lighter, some UCO Stormproof Matches, and either a SparkForce or a Swedish FireSteel And of course, bring the obligatory cotton balls with vasoline smeared on them.

  29. For those who carry guns while hiking makes sure you have the proper permits and now all the regulations for carrying especially in state and national parks. There are lot of crazy rules, laws, and reg out there.
    For instance in my home state (which is pretty gun friendly) here are some.
    Gun in your truck or even off roading on a dirt bike. Legal
    Gun awhile an ATV. Class 3 misdemeanor (even if you have a permit).
    Gun hiking around a state park. Legal.
    Gun hiking around a state park during certain hunting seasons. Illegal unless you also have a sportsmans permit.
    Gun on trail. Legal.
    Gun in ranger’s station or other park facility (including pavilion). Illegal.
    Gun outside erected tent on state land. Legal.
    Gun inside erected tent on state land. Illegal (not sure this one would survive a court challenge, but do you want to be the one to find out?)
    National Parks have some of the same.
    Gun outside of buildings. Generally legal.
    Gun inside any government building. Illegal.
    Hiking in a state with reciprocity to your permit. Might be legal (unclear…rules seem to read you must have a permit issued by the state in which you are hiking)
    As a rule of thumb, I usually lock the gun in the car just to be safe and carry pepper spray or bear spray. But, I always hike in a small group. Also I am sure there are some weirdos in the woods, but most people we ever run into (if we do in a single given day) are just hiking enthusiast like me and you. I think most weirdos would rather take their chances in places with higher populations then sit in the woods all day hoping a SWF hiker comes along…

  30. Tourniquet. Every survival kit should have one. A mirror is a great signaling device but an IR chem stick to make an IR buzz saw is also a requirement in my bag.

  31. Nice to see an article about hiking. I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail a few years ago. The AT isn’t exactly a hardcore wilderness middle of nowhere experience but I thought I’d offer my point of view on the article’s recommendations.
    1. I carried a guidebook and a compass. Never used the compass except for shits and giggles.
    2. A headlamp is far superior to a flashlight. You can free up the use of an arm which can be utilized setting up a tent in the middle of the night, cooking and eating food more easily, wiping your ass after a shit, or handling another hiking pole while walking.
    3. I also recommend food and water. Most if not all long distance hikers will laugh at the idea of eating MREs. They are heavy and generate a shitload of trash that needs to be humped out. I do love me some beef jerky, GORP, peanut butter, bagels, power bars, and the dehydrated meals you cook in the bag.
    4. I used a Swiss Army knife. Got the job done.
    5. I only had mole skin for first aid. Maybe I was just young and stupid but I never wanted for anything else.
    6. Rain protection is nice. Most hikers will have a rain jacket.
    7. I think I carried a small book of matches and never lit a fire except for fun. Lightweight stoves fueled by a canister of some sort of natural gas is how most food is cooked.
    8. Definitely recommend the sunscreen and insect repellent.
    If anyone is thinking about getting serious with hiking then don’t shop at a shitty store like Academy. You will want gear as light as you can afford and clothes made of fabric that will dry easily while still offering good insulation. Lots of great small companies online that make good gear if you look around and frequent hiking forums.
    My experiences are of course subjective and if you are hiking off into uncharted territory or freezing temperatures you can ignore my more cavalier anecdotes.
    Finally, never skip leg day.

    1. I’ve hiked high altitude at night when the fog hit. My headlamp was useless. All I saw was whiteout. I couldn’t see the trail so I got down on my knees since the fog never touches the ground. Fog hovers roughly 2 feet above the ground. While crawling I could see the trail for a hundred feet or more, illuminated with the light. I crouched and crawled my way down and off the mountain.
      The same principle is used with automobile fog lights. Normal high beams cause whiteout in fog but the car’s fog lights are located on the bumper very low to the ground. They illuminate only the reflective lines painted on the road surface without causing whiteout since they shine down low and not upwards towards the low fog ceiling.

      1. Interesting story, I didn’t know you could crouch in fog and see things clearly. It must have been a pain in the ass to have to crawl around a mountain.

  32. I’d add warm clothes and extra socks to the list. Replace the multitool with a proper fixed-blade knife. And, most importantly: bring proper rain gear! A poncho will be of limited use if you need to move while it is raining (or just walk through the vegetation after the rain has stopped). Take a rain suit with pants and jacket instead.

    1. The multitool is much more useful than a fixed knife, especially the pliers / wire cutter, file, and awl.

  33. Ooh ooh – this is important. Twelve grub worms equals the same protein as one fried egg just in case you get in a pinch.

    Also (gold) Listerine has 1001 uses.
    1).cooling soothing on chigger bites
    2).suffices for liquid brushing teeth & rinse
    3).antiseptic, clean cuts
    4).rub into hair and comb for itchy scalp
    5).saturate a sock and rub all over body for a waterless ‘sponge bath’. This is also known as taking a ‘navy shower’.
    6).contains alcohol so drinking the remainder in bottle may also suffice for a cheap buzz

  34. Just a heads-up: Donald Trump wants to abolish all regulations protecting the beautiful places in those pictures, and sell them to the highest bidder.
    He doesn’t believe in the very concept of regulating man’s activities in relation to the ecosystem. He thinks “ecosystems” are a Chinese hoax. So, apparently, does Roosh.

  35. Something fun to do while hiking is to collect walking stick medallions from the national parks and trails. These can be obtained at park headquarters, hikers retreats and shops.
    Sticks can come in all shapes and forms.
    You can also find some unique pieces in antique shops.
    Making your own stick is the easy part. The real work is collecting your badges or flags.
    Usually I always hiked with a telescoping aluminum stick or ski pole but I frequently noticed old timers and also younger scouts hiking with hand carved oak or hickory sticks that were decorated with medallions.
    Then I busted the crap out of my leg at work one day. The hospital gave me crutches and let me pick a walking cane from a box of donated canes. Most all the canes were aluminum, but one wooden cane caught my eye. It looked very old, hand carved and it was covered with medallions. Of course I picked the antique cain.
    I left the hospital with the old walking stick covered with badges from the Swiss alps, Rocky Mts, shit this thing had been all over the world. I still don’t have a clue as to who originally owned it, but I couldn’t wait to get out and hike with it. I couldn’t claim the badges on it as my own achievements so it kind of felt like I was walking in someone else’s shoes with the stick, a famous hiker from the past maybe. I’ll attest that an aluminum pole is maybe 1 or 2 oz lighter than wood, but there’s a novelty in decorating your own wood pole with medallions . . eeh I guess it’s kind of similar to the novelty of collecting flags from banging your way around the globe . . heh.
    I still use the stick for local parks, trails and beating snakes but I haven’t added any official medallions of my own, so I really respect the guy whoever it was that originally owned it. I was supposed to return it to the hospital when I was done with it but it’s just too cool to let go of. I still pound some trail with it. Hippie chicks dig it when they see I’ve scaled the Swiss Alps . . . heh

  36. This is missing the most important thing. Some warm wool or synthetic clothes in case you have to sleep rough, or get caught outside in a sudden cold rain.
    Most wilderness deaths by hypothermia happen because someone goes hiking during a warm day in a t-shirt, gets lost, and and has to spend a cold, wet night in a tshirt.

  37. Buy a damn headlamp! It’s not the 90’s with maglites. Headlamps free both hands to do work getting you off in no time.

    1. Yes, it’s time for a headlamp. They aren’t any more expensive than a mini mag and have far greater utility.

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