Hiking Gear List: Learn from my Mistakes

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Hitting the hills and unsure what to pack?

This hiking packing list will discuss what to pack for one-day hikes or long-distance treks.

This guide has been created with years of experience of hiking at home and abroad. I’ve hiked up hills/mountains, trekked to the summits of volcanoes, walked along lakes/lochs and completed expeditions to epic landmarks.

I’ve experienced sun, rain, wind, hail and even snow! Learn from my (many) mistakes during these treks by using this free hiking gear list.

Dog Canyon hike Big Bend National Park. Craig, hat, bag.

Dog Canyon, Big Bend National Park

Day Hike Packing List

The key to being comfortable when hiking is layers. They say there is no such things as bad weather, only bad clothes.

Hiking equipment and gear is something I recommend that you invest in. I am a walking example of ‘buy cheap, buy twice’. I’ve now learned and accept that some items of outdoor gear need money spent on them or they won’t withstand the elements.

Couple in distance at Sanna Bay Ardnamurchan, Scotland

Lesser-known Sanna Bay in Ardnamurchan, Scotland

Day Hike Checklist

Hiking Outerwear

  • A (truly) waterproof jacket like my Mountain Equipment Rupal US / UK .


  • A lightweight, packable waterproof jacket like my Marmot Precip US / UK.
  • A down jacket like my Rab Alpine USA / UK for breezy stops. I love how it covers my bottom.
Hungary trees, dark skies, Gemma Marmot precip blue

Beautiful Hungarian countryside

Top Tips

Rain should sit on top of your rain jacket, it should not be absorbed.

I’ve had too many to count, rain jackets which cost less than my monthly phone bill and they are point-blank not waterproof.

Water-resistant, maybe, but not waterproof like the jackets above. I was so uncomfortable during the West Highland Way multi-day hike when it rained.

My clothes were soggy, don’t be me. Invest!

Rain Iceland hike. Mountain Equipment jacket, hat. Gemma and Craig._

Just another rainy day in Iceland

Hiking Shoes/Boots (Broken In)

  • Salomon Quest boots US / UK – stylish, supportive and Gortex waterproof. Salomon Quest boots
  • If you prefer shoes, I also wear Salomon Ellipse US / UK but make sure they are GTX version.
  • Craig now wears Scarpa which are like slippers but heavier than my boots.
  • He has worn Salomon in the past but prefers his Scarpa leather boots now.
Hiking boots Bubble Rock hike Acadia National Park Maine

Salomon at Bubble Rock, Acadia National Park in Maine – ideal for scrambling

Top Tips

Go up at least one size when choosing hiking boots and shoes.

Previously I’ve gone for style over functionality but now feel I’ve got the perfect balance with the Salomon Quest. A well worn-in pair of hiking boots or shoes is a must-have hiking gear item.

Don’t buy new boots and then attempt a hard hike.

Gross one but cut your toenails! You’ll thank me later.

You may also like our lightweight hiking footwear review

Salomon Shoes Ladies

Gibsons in British Colombia, Canada – lightweight Salomon shoes, great for travel

Hiking Clothes, Equipment and Accessories

  • Vest top or quick-dry t-shirt.
  • An Icebreaker Merino wool base layer USA / UK – 100% wool. Not cheap but top quality. I have two, they really neat too.
  • Fleece – make sure this in easy reach in your bag if you remove it.
  • Leggings/gym pants and/or…
  • Quick-dry walking pants.
  • Pull-over waterproof trousers USA / UK – love these, don’t have to change gym pants after a downpour as these take all the mud stains.
  • Sports bra.
  • Hiking socks like Bridgedale US / UK.
  • Gators which go over your ankle (optional).
  • Walking poles (optional).
  • Watch.
  • Swimming gear if you are taking a dip.
  • Bug net if visiting during high season. For example in Scotland the midges are crazy mid-May to late September on the West Coast so you need to cover your face!
Wild Jackson Falls New Hampshire

Wild Jackson Falls in New Hampshire

Top Tips

Don’t wrap your fleece around your waist.

If it rains it will get wet.

I stupidly once kept my fleece wrapped around my waist but put my rain jacket on.

Needless to say, the fleece was useless that evening.

Related Posts to Read

Sapa Valley in Vietnam, trekking, swimming in lake

Taking a morning shower at Sapa Valley in Vietnam

Day Bag Items

In this section, we will assume that your day bag is going on a one-day hike with you to carry all of your hiking essentials.

You will use the majority of the items during the hike, with a few reserved for emergencies. I also like a bag around my waist or a hip bag for easy access to my phone and tissues.

  • Buff/scarf.
  • Gloves.
  • Hat.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Clean socks.
  • Waterproof bag cover like this one by Osprey US / UK.
  • Phone – screenshot route, download map route, download music and podcasts.
  • Waterproof cover.
  • Phone cable.
  • Battery pack for phone – I use Anker battery charger US / UK.
  • A camera if taking photos.
  • Speaker, Craig loves the JBL US / UK as it clips onto your bag.
  • Lunch.
  • Earphones (if you want to zone out).
  • Water bottle(s) – I use Tree Tribe US / UK as I’m not a fan of the taste of camel packs.
  • Purifying bottle if applicable – Claim 15% off Water To Go bottles (quote TSA15 at checkout).
  • Thermos for coffee/tea.
  • Bamboo cutlery US / UK if required.
  • Snacks.
  • Money.
  • Credit Card.
  • ID.
  • Map in a waterproof case.
  • Compass.
  • Notepad.
  • Pen.
  • Bag for rubbish.
  • Instagram dress? Sometimes I do day hikes in summer dresses (optional).

Read next: first timer’s guide to going plastic free

Man filling up DrinkSafe Travel Tap bottle in stream

Purifying and filtering water bottle in Peru

Comfort Items

  • Hair tie/headscarf.
  • Suntan lotion.
  • Chapstick/lip salve.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • Insect repellent with Avon So Soft US / UK.
  • Tissues.
  • Leukotape US / UK – tape up your heels before you hike; I do this.
Hiking Sapa Valley in Vietnam, Craig, day bag, flip flops, bug spray, water bottle, native woman.

Hiking with the locals in Vietnam

Emergency/Functional Hiking Items

  • Carabiner clips – clip water bottles, keys, hats on to your bag.
  • Spare laces – don’t get caught out!
  • Swiss army knife.
  • Whistle.
  • Torch/flashlight.
  • Blister pads (you won’t need them if you use Leukotape).
  • Plasters.
  • See the Lifesystems personal First Aid pack.
  • Baby wipes.
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Tube grip bandage.
  • Instant cold pack.
  • Tweezers
  • Pain killers.
  • Prescribed medicines.
  • Malaria tablets if applicable.

Leave in the Car

  • Vaseline/Petroleum – put on your feet before you put your socks on to hike.
  • Change of shoes – flip flops if warm, give feet a breather.
  • Change of clothes.
  • Water.
  • Snacks.
Soames Hill hike, Gisbons, Canada. Gemma, walking boots, day bag, trees

Soames Hill, Gibsons in Canada

Choosing a Day Hike Bag

When deciding on the perfect day hiking bag consider its weight without items packed. It doesn’t have to be waterproof if you carry a waterproof cover with it.

I had the unfortunate experience of a Vietnamese downpour killing my camera during the Sapa Valley hike. I’ve never hiked without a waterproof bag cover since then (2013).

The bag needs to be comfortable on your shoulders, straps that tighten and loosen are important. Ideally, the bag should have some kind of breathable material on the back.
Side pockets are great for storing water bottles, rubbish or maps in.

Multi-Day Hike Packing

The following section assumes that you are hiking with all of your contents, thus you are packing all of your trekking items in this bag.

Long-Distance Hiking Checklist

Similar to the day hiking checklist but more extensive. To avoid repetition, I will point to the above when the items are the same.

Hiking Outerwear

  • Same as above.


Same as above with the addition of:

  • Flip-flops – give your feet a rest, overnight hiking essential in my books.
  • Casual shoes – like trainers. I actually ended up hiking in trainers one day when my Achilles went during a long-distance hike. Poles were my heroes too.
Machu Picchu hike, Craig, shorts, tshirt, day bag

The final steps to the incredible Machu Picchu in Peru

Long Distance Trekking Clothes

Consider how you pack your bag allowing easy access to next wear items.

Pack a dry bag which can double up as a dirty washing bag and a washing machine! Just pop in warm water and travel detergent, give it a good swirl about and scrub holding on to the outside of the bag.

  • Vest top or quick dry t-shirt x 2-3.
  • Icebreaker top – 100% merino wool x2.
  • Fleece – make sure this in easy reach in your bag if you remove it x2.
  • Leggings/gym pants x 1 or 2.
  • Quick-dry walking pants x 1 or 2.
  • Over trouser waterproof pants/trousers.
  • Shorts x 1 (optional).
  • Sports bra.
  • Underwear – number of days + one (unless washing).
  • Hiking socks like Bridgedale x number of days hiking minus one or two.
  • Sock liners – Bridgedale x2 (optional).
  • Cotton socks for the night – x2.
  • Nightwear – consider temperature drop in evenings.
  • Gators which go over your ankle (optional).
  • Walking poles (optional).
  • Watch.
  • Swimming gear if you are taking a dip.
Colca Canyon, Craig, vest top, head scarf, sunglasses, earphones

Craig rocking a headband

Comfort Items/Toiletries

See above plus:

  • Toilet paper.
  • Baby wipes – not very eco-friendly though.
  • Aftersun.
  • Toothbrush.
  • Tooth tabs – like paste but don’t spill.
  • Soap in a tin/wrapped in beeswax.
  • Face wash.
  • Moisturiser.
  • Hairbrush – I just stick mine up and add more clips as the days go on.
  • Clips/bobby pins.
  • Travel detergent – shampoo stinks after a while.
  • Dry bag US / UK – my Mum’s hiking bag bladder burst, twice! Protect your belongings.
  • Towel.
  • Tick remover if applicable.

Emergency/Functional Hiking Items

See above plus:

  • Mosquito net if applicable.

First Aid Pack for Hiking

See above plus:

  • Deep Freeze/Biofreeze US / UK for aches and pains.
  • Antihistamine.

Don’t let your ego get the best of you. If you are hurt then stand down for one day and join in the next. You will only cause yourself long-term damage.

This was the advice from my cousin why has hiked every Munro in Scotland. I sat out one day of the West Highland Way and joined in again on day five.

Stac Polliadh hike Ullapool Scotland Highlands, Craig, Gemma posing._

Stac Pollaidh on Scotland’s North Coast 500 road trip

Camping Equipment

  • Tent/poles
  • Sleeping bag
  • Liner (optional)
  • Padded or yoga matt (optional)
  • Cutlery
  • Plate
  • Bowl
  • Mug (attached to thermos?)
  • Stove
  • Fuel
  • Matches (in a waterproof bag)/lighter
  • Pan
  • Scourer
  • Bio washing up
  • Towel

→ Don’t forget the food!

Smore, hand, tartan nails

S’mores! Sweet crackers, chocolate and marshmallows from the campfire

Hiking With Your Dog

I love to hike with our dog, Bowie. She likes the attention of other hikers too! There are a few hiking items I recommend packing if you plan to hike with your dog.

  • Towels (x two, I tend to leave these in the car)
  • Food and treats
  • Water bottle with tray US / UK
  • Biodegradable poop bags
  • Don’t forget the lead!
  • Harness/collar
  • Name tag with telephone number and chip engraved

Do remember that your dog will do twice even three times the amount of steps you do. I met a very poorly dog who had hurt its paws on a multi-day hike. The dog dad was going back to the starting point to hire a car and meet the dog mom at the next stage.

It is recommended to keep your dog on the lead at times to reduce its steps and protect its paws.

Bowie, husky German shepherd on Ben Vorlich munro in Scotland.

Our dog, Bowie, up Ben Vorlich in Scotland

Games to Play While Hiking

Some stretches of the trek are laborious!

Here are some fun games to play to get out of the woods (sometimes literally!)

  • A-Z of… Pop bands, movies, world leaders
  • Name a celeb, next person names a celeb with a name which starts with your celeb’s second name first letter (Lady Gaga, Gillian Anderson, etc)
  • I’m going on a hiking trip and I have packed, repeat item and add a new one
  • Lyric Challenge. Singer one starts, singer two takes the last word and starts a new line of the song (stolen from Pitch Perfect)
  • Would you rather… Snog, marry avoid
  • 21 questions – yes or no answers
Craig and friend hiking in Hungarian, near Eger. Trees, red path

Save to your hiking board for future planning

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Final Thoughts

Whether you are a first-timer aiming to get outdoors more or an avid hiker, this guide to things needed for hiking covers you for one-day treks to long-distance hikes during spring and summer. I hope you found my hiking equipment list useful, please do tell me in the comments below if I’ve missed anything essential out.

Our Hiking Guides

2 thoughts on “Hiking Gear List: Learn from my Mistakes

  1. Helen Miller says:

    I don’t know if you have HOKA shoes in the UK, but everyone I meet on the Appalachian trail in the US is wearing them. I have always been led to believe that you need boots with good ankle support for hiking, but all these through hikers on the AP are wearing HOKAs. I hope you consider them, its like wearing air. I have no interest in the company, I am just a consumer!!

    • Two Scots Abroad says:

      I’ve actually tried HOKA running shoes, the ones I tried weren’t for me but others love them. Thanks for commenting Helen!

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