Every hiker has their own personal favorite item; whether it’s that one water bottle you’ve been hanging onto for years or the new filtration device you just picked up from REI, gadgets and tools are part of the hiking experience. Equipment on the trail can range from incredibly useful to silly and playful, but whatever it is, a couple extra gadgets are always nice. We’ve thought long and hard about some of the most crucial hiking essentials that we think are great on the trail–here is our expertly curated list.
A cooking system is crucial for hiking (more specifically, backpacking), and it makes the top of our essentials list. In particular, the Jetboil Zip Cooking System is our favorite; it doesn’t sacrifice portability for quality, and it boils water quicker than anything else we’ve used in the wilderness. If you’re wanting to grill up some chicken or sauté vegetables, this probably can’t do that. It is, however, perfect for boiling water to use with freeze-dried food. If you’re a serious adventurer, you can’t go wrong with the Jetboil.
You can find the Jetboil Zip on Amazon here. It’s affordable and practical, and it’ll get you years of use. We highly recommend it.
Having some sort of container to carry water in is absolutely crucial on the trail. Some people like their old trusty water bottles, while others prefer more unique devices like the CamelBak. Somewhere in between lies the Hydroflask, which we truly believe is the greatest water bottle out there. It’ll keep your drinks cool (or hot), and it’s a fantastic addition to your current hiking gear armoire. Even better, Hydroflask HQ is located in Bend!
Not only is the Hydroflask a great way to support an Oregon-based company, but it is simply the best tool to carry your drinks around on the trail. You can check it out on Amazon here.
Even if you plan on only hiking during the day, you’re still going to want to pack a headlamp with you wherever you go. Getting stuck or lost on the trail is a real thing, and having nothing to see with in the night can make a huge difference. If you’re backpacking, you already know that having a headlamp is crucial. Nobody wants to crawl out of the tent at 3 AM in pitch-black, right? Whatever the case, a headlamp is one of the most important hiking essentials to have out on the trail, day or night.
When it comes to our favorites, the choice is clear: the Black Diamond Spot comes at a fantastic price, and packs features like brightness memory that you won’t see in many headlamps in the same price range. It comes from a great brand, and it’s hands-down the headlamp we recommend for the trail. You can check it out on Amazon here.
Odds are, most day hikers aren’t bringing a water filtration system, especially if they’re not heading on a long backcountry hike. That’s unfortunate, because a filtration system is essential no matter where you go. Running out of water can happen in hundreds of different ways, and having something you provide you with purified water can, quite literally, be a lifesaver.
The LifeStraw is the perfect solution for the day hiker. It’s super affordable, portable, and it’ll get the job done if you’re hiking for a day. For backpackers, we’d probably choose a different product, but the LifeStraw is absolutely perfect for hikers. It’s less than $20, and could seriously save your life. You can give it a look on Amazon here.
A good pocketknife can be great on the trail, but even better? A multi-tool. Knives are useful to a point, but for the average hiker and backpacker, a multi-tool provides a lot more functionality for day-to-day trail situations. Of course, knives are also included in the Leatherman Surge, but it provides so much more than just that.
There are plenty of cheap multi-tools on the market, but the team here at Oregon Adventurer is recommending the Leatherman Surge because we know it packs high-quality components that will last. We don’t know about you, but we’d rather buy something that lasts a lifetime rather than replacing a cheaper alternative a few times per year. If you’re interested, check it out on Amazon.
Who doesn’t want a first aid kit, right? Well, maybe that wasn’t the best way to put it. Nobody really wants a first aid kit, but the truth is, we all need one. From walking down the stairs in the morning to backcountry expeditions, injuries can happen anywhere, and they can be quite common on the trail. If you’re not already packing one, this is one of the most crucial essentials we can recommend for your collection of hiking gear.
We’ve decided on the Surviveware Small First Aid Kit for a few reasons: firstly, it’s lightweight and portable, meaning it is easily a backpack-able item. Secondly, it packs all of the most important first aid supplies. If you’re day hiking and don’t want to take the entire kit, you can just grab a few of the essentials to take with you. Regardless, this first aid kit is a well-crafted one that we’d recommend for any adventurer. You can find it on Amazon here.
There are dozens, even hundreds, of other items and gear that most hikers wouldn’t live without. In this article, we’ve listed the most essential items to pack for your hiking expeditions, items that we wouldn’t leave home without. If you have any favorites of your own or would like to recommend your personal favorite gear to other adventurers, let us know in the comments below!
For a more unique kind of hiking “essential”, check out our article detailing our favorite hiking apps for 2019.