Hiking can be the perfect activity for anyone looking to connect with nature, get some exercise, and relieve stress. It's also an activity that can be full of surprises, like finding an unexpected vista or spotting a bird or flower you've never seen before.
While vistas, birds, and flowers are all fun surprises, finding yourself out on the trail in uncomfortable gear or unprepared for the day is definitely not. To keep hiking stress-free, prepare in advance by mapping out the perfect loop, inviting a few outdoorsy (or aspiring outdoorsy) buddies, picking out the perfect pair of women's workout pants, and packing a day bag with all of the goodies you'll need to enjoy your day.
Below you'll find a list of hiking essentials that you should always bring in your hiking backpack. Whether you're a seasoned trailblazer just looking for some reminders or a novice hiker looking for some guidance, the items here will allow you to head out on the trail with confidence, style, and of course, all the snacks you might need.
No matter what the temperature is outside, having water is essential on any hike. Find a water bottle with a secure lid since you'll likely be keeping this in your backpack. To be extra safe, consider keeping it in the side pocket of your bag if that's an option. If you're going on a particularly long hike or it happens to be an extra warm day, you might want to bring two water bottles to ensure you don't get caught on the trail unprepared.
A pro tip here is to fill your water up the night before so it can chill in the fridge, and leave yourself a sticky note reminder somewhere you'll definitely see it in the morning, so you don't forget to grab the bottles.
Even if it feels like it's a women's tank top or breezy T-shirt sort of day, it's always smart to bring an extra layer in your backpack. Especially if you're going on a spring hike, the weather might change once you get out on the trail, so always take the morning forecast with a grain of salt.
Applying sunscreen before your hike is a necessity no matter the season, but this is especially true for any sunny day hikes. While you'll be applying your base layer of sunscreen before throwing on your activewear or adventure-approved comfy clothes, if you're going to be out for a while or possibly breaking a sweat, you'll want to reapply it at some point.
Throwing a sunscreen stick — versus a bottle of liquid sunscreen — in your bag might just be the thing that saves you from an uncomfortable sunburn. Since hiking is all about enjoying the adventure, a sunscreen stick will provide the protection you need without getting in the way due to its weight or the possibility of any leaks.
Whether you're heading out on an intense all-day hike or a lowkey morning jaunt in the woods, having a first-aid kit in your bag is a must. Even on easier hikes, roots and other plants can cause trips or minor abrasions, and you'll be able to save the day if you have some bandages or a compression wrap readily available.
First-aid kits can take up quite a bit of room, so just bring a few items in a reusable plastic bag or make room for the full kit, depending on the intensity of your hike. Before heading out, check whatever bag or kit you have packed to ensure it has all of the items you need and none of the essentials have expired.
If your hike includes any sort of swimming or quick dipping opportunity, like a lake, waterfall, or creek, then you should definitely carry a swimsuit in your backpack. It can be uncomfortable to hike in a suit all day, so bringing one along will likely be your best bet.
Since you'll want to be able to change quickly and rock a swimsuit that you can be active and worry-free in, something like a tugless one-piece will have you covered. Tugless swimwear is a flattering and no-fuss option that's sure to stay in place as you splash, jump, or explore.
This brings us to the tastiest must-have on the list. It's important to have a balanced meal before heading out on a hike, but bringing some snacks or even a small meal in your backpack is also essential. If you have room in your bag, packing a lunchbox with some trail mix, an easy sandwich like peanut butter and jelly, and some baby carrots or apple slices is a great way to have a tasty, insulated treat once you reach the summit.
If your lunchbox is too big for your bag, simply opt for reusable baggies or pre-sealed snacks. No matter what nourishment you decide to bring, something about eating in the fresh air after a long hike just makes all food taste better.
With these five items in your backpack, you'll be prepared for any hike, no matter the intensity or season. We hope this list leaves you feeling inspired to get out there and enjoy whatever happy trails you may find!