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What are the Different Types of Hiking Supplies?

Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari
Updated May 17, 2024
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The type of hiking supplies one will need will depend on the type of hiking being done, the duration of the trip, and the preferences of the hiker. Some of the most important hiking supplies include water purification systems, comfortable and durable hiking shoes or boots, and hydration systems such as water bottles or bladders. For long-term hiking such as backpacking trips, lightweight foods will be necessary as well, in addition to cooking supplies such as a backpacking stove and cookware. Short-term hikers will need hiking supplies such as breathable clothing, a small backpack, headwear, and other clothing that is seasonally appropriate.

Perhaps the most important item out of all the hiking supplies one will need for a safe and fun trip is a first aid kit. Hiking often means the hikers will be away from first aid responders and easy transportation, so a hiker needs to have a well-stocked first aid kit and the knowledge of how to use it appropriately. Bandages, compresses, rubber gloves, antibacterial ointment, safety pins, and even a bandana that can be used as a sling should be included in a first aid kit. The entire collection of items within the first aid kit should be contained within a waterproof container or bag to prevent damaging the items before they can be used.

Hiking supplies will include food items as well, for both long- and short-term hiking trips. For short-term trips, granola bars and energy snacks are usually sufficient, and no cooking items will be necessary. Backpackers on multi-day trips, however, will need a backpacking stove as well as cook wear that is lightweight and durable. A backpacking stove folds up small and is lightweight. It is usually powered by white gas or another type of combustible liquid or gas. The stove is usually only able to produce a flame and a cooking surface for one small to medium pot or pan, so most backpackers choose to plan meals that can be cooked in one pot. Stainless steel cookwear is a common choice for backpackers, though other metals that are lightweight and relatively durable can be used.

High on the list of important hiking supplies is a map or guide. The map should be current and fairly detailed, and a hiking guide should include useful information about sites to acquire drinking water or food, and even shelter if necessary. For some hikers, a compass or GPS system is indispensable, though the hiker will need to know how to use these pieces of equipment and have an appropriate budget for acquiring them.

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Discussion Comments

By Kat919 — On May 08, 2012

@EdRick - You can definitely do it! It is easier once the baby is past the "explosive" stage, but you can hike even sooner. (You just need to bring multiple extra diapers and lots of wipes in case of blowout. It's fortunate that your son is old enough to carry his own supplies now.)

Remember that you will need to bring probably twice as much water for your wife as you used to now that she is breastfeeding! Once baby starts eating solid foods, those lightweight single-serve pouches of fruit, yogurt, etc. make great hiking lunches. (I like the Earth's Best myself.)

But the main thing you need for hiking with a baby is a good carrier. A lot of people use frame backpacks, but these are only for infants older than six months and they are not necessarily the most comfortable option. I prefer a soft structured carrier, like an Ergo. These can be worn on the front for a baby from one month and up, or on the back from about four or five months. Baby is held closer to your body and in a more natural position. Some SSCs have pockets for extra gear, but I find it easier to have one person carry the stuff, and the other person carries the baby. Happy hiking!

By EdRick — On May 08, 2012

My wife and I have enjoyed hiking with our ten-year-old son, but we didn't start until a few years ago. Now we have a baby girl in the picture, too, and we'd all like to hike together.

I know we'll need to carry a lot more stuff, although at least since she's breastfed we don't need to bring bottles and formula. What other tips are there for hiking with a baby? Do we need any special hiking gear?

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