Use this checklist so you don’t forget anything on your hike. It includes the 10 essentials, which are key items you should always carry when you’re hiking. Learn more about the 10 essentials to be prepared.
Before you head out, read up on the conditions and check the weather and adjust accordingly. If you expect a lot of mud, gaiters might be wise. If there are steep hills, trekking poles could save your knees. And no one ever regrets bringing a treat for the summit.
Check out our day hiking guide for beginners for practical advice on how to plan and prepare for a hike.
- Research where you’re going
- Leave a trip plan with a trusted friend
- Bring a guidebook or printed description of trail
- Hiking permit, if required
Clothing and footwear
Leave the cotton behind. Make sure your layers are made of quick-drying materials that wick moisture.
- Sturdy hiking footwear
- Hiking socks (synthetic or wool/wool blend)
- Liner socks, if needed
- Underwear and sports bra
- Hiking shirt – long sleeves help with sun protection
- Hiking shorts or pants
- Extra clothing is one of the 10 essentials. Weather can change quickly, and you may be out longer than planned. In every season, be prepared with additional waterproof outer layers, fleece jacket or warm layers, extra socks, gloves, and toque or neck gaiter.
If you’re hiking in the cold or wet, layer on:
- Topographic map in a clear plastic bag or waterproof case
- Altimeter (optional but useful, since it gives your approximate elevation to help you figure out your location on the map)
Food and water
- Snacks and food for the day, plus extra food (enough for one more day)
- Water, plus additional water (about 1–2L more as a guideline, but this varies depending on weather and scenario)
- Water bottle or hydration bladder
- Water treatment – tablets are small and portable
- Electrolyte drink crystals (highly recommended)
- Headlamp or flashlight for each person in your group (the flashlight on your smartphone is not an acceptable substitute)
- Extra batteries for headlamp/flashlight, or a backup light
- First aid kit
- Matches (waterproof or in a waterproof container) or a lighter
- Fire starter and/or a candle
- Emergency shelter (e.g., a big orange plastic bag combined with an emergency blanket, or a pre-made emergency bivy bag)
- Bug spray (optional, but recommended)
- Bear safety gear (depending on where you’re going)
Repair kit and tools
- Fully charged phone in a waterproof case or bag
- Power bank and cord for electronic devices
- Satellite communication device (if you’re in remote terrain beyond cell phone coverage)