Several days out in the wilderness can be unforgettable or something you wish you could forget. Often, great camping and hiking experiences come down to what you packed or forgot to pack for your trip.
Having outdoor essentials in your backpack can make a big difference when it comes to having a relaxing vacation in nature and a horror story you don’t know how to get out of. Whether you camp and hike regularly or you’re planning to do it for the first time, make sure to bring with you the outdoor essentials listed in this article, depending on how long you're staying outdoors.
If you’re hiking or camping in remote areas, make sure to bring a map and compass with you. Forest landmarks can change significantly throughout the day because of the sun’s position, which may make you disoriented. It’s not unusual for campers to wander through the forest for days before someone rescues them or they find their camping spot.
Getting lost in the woods is no joke, especially if you don’t have enough water on you. So, make sure to bring with you some or all of the navigation tools listed below:
- Compass: If you become disoriented in the great outdoors, a compass can save the day. That’s especially true if you pair it with a map. While many smartphones feature electronic compasses, a standard compass is still handy as it doesn’t rely on batteries.
- Map: It’s recommended to bring with you a topographic map on any trip where you don’t know the path.
- GPS device: With a GPS device, you can accurately find your location. We suggest getting a GPS device specifically designed for outdoor trips as these are usually built to be waterproof and tough. You can also use a smartphone with a GPS app, but make sure to protect it with a case as they are more fragile. Remember that these devices run on batteries, and have some extra batteries on you can be a lifesaver.
- Satellite messenger or personal locator beacon (PLB): These devices can alert emergency personnel if you need help in remote outdoor locations. When activated, they will determine your location using GPS and send a message through commercial or government satellites. These gadgets can be a valuable backup if something goes wrong. Moreover, they work in remote locations where smartphones may not have a signal.
Although a campfire is bright, it won’t illuminate the path to the toilet or items in your tent. Finding your way through the wilderness in the dark is vital, and that’s why you need to have a light source on you. Most campers and hikers prefer headlamps as they don’t need to hold them in their hands, meaning they can cook or do some other things at night. Whatever you choose, make sure to bring extra batteries.
Having a tent with you can save the day in case of inclement weather, even if you don’t plan to sleep outdoors. Without a tent to protect you, you risk getting wet and sick, and that’s especially true if you’re planning a week-long trip. Moreover, a tent can protect you and your equipment from the wind.
There are numerous tenants available on the market, but whichever you choose, ensure to bring along its accessories, including tent poles, stakes, rope, and rain fly.
When the sun goes down, you’ll need something to keep you warm as temperatures can drop drastically at night. Moreover, insects are also more active at night and will likely go toward an uncovered body. Without a sleeping bag, you risk having an unpleasant night’s sleep at best and getting sick at worst. So, make sure to bring one with you on your outdoor journeys.
The size of your first-aid kit will largely depend on the length of the trip, how far it is, the number of people, and the potential risks you may encounter. Before packing, ensure that nothing has expired and restock anything that’s missing. Some of the items your first-aid kit should include are bandages, scissors, protective gloves, painkillers, blister dressings, and medication you regularly take if any. You may also want to pack bug spray.
Regardless of the season, sun protection is a must. Otherwise, you risk getting sunburned and not seeing well in the short term. But in the long run, your skin could prematurely age or get skin cancer. That said, here are items to pack to keep yourself safe from the harmful sun rays:
- Sunglasses: High-quality sunglasses are critical in the outdoors as they protect the eyes from damaging sun rays.
- Sunscreen: Long hours spent in the sun can cause premature aging, sunburn, and skin cancer, so make sure to wear sunscreen to reduce the harmful effects of UVA light. When choosing a sunscreen, it’s recommended to get a formula that offers an SPF of at least 15. Still, the higher the protection, the better, especially if you burn easily. Also, it’s a good idea to find a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. You may also want to pack an SPF-rated lip balm to protect your lips too.
The pocket knife is one of the most vital outdoor essentials as you can use it for multiple purposes like trimming a rope, dicing bait, cutting fishing lines, opening a sealed package, sharpening a stick, and so much more. Such activities become nearly impossible without a quality knife, so make sure to pack it when going outdoors.
You can choose a basic knife with a single foldout blade or a multipurpose knife with two flathead screwdrivers, foldout scissors, and a can opener. Consider what you will be using it for, and choose accordingly.
Water is vital if you want to survive in the wilderness. The last thing you want to do is to be stuck without it because drinking from a lake or pond can cause illnesses. To keep yourself alive, make sure to bring a bottle of water with you even if you’re not going far. Packing some water purification tablets also comes in handy if you need to refill them from a stream.
If you’re a tea lover, you may also want to bring a thermos to keep your drink hot when temperatures drop.
While you can survive without food for a few days, you still need it if you want to have energy for your outdoor adventure. It’s wise to pack an extra day’s worth of food if something delays your trip.
If you’re camping or hiking for a day, you may want to bring only food that doesn’t require cooking and has a long shelf life like nuts, energy bars, and dried fruits. But if you’re going on a long journey, you may want to bring some cooking ingredients, dishes, and food containers to keep your food protected from animals.
When going outdoors, you will likely need some fire to warm you up. That’s especially true if you’re camping. Camping is just not the same without a campfire, so make sure to have on you reliable supplies for starting and maintaining a fire. Most people go with disposable butane lighters, but matches can work too. Just make sure they are stored in a waterproof container.
You don’t need ten party dresses, three pairs of shoes, and seven sweatshirts when camping, but you still need to bring with you some clothes to keep you dry and warm. Since you’ll be carrying all the baggage, it’s best to go as light as possible. So, consider choosing a lightweight, waterproof jacket that can cover multiple layers of clothing and quality hiker boots. You may also want to get a rain bag to protect your equipment.
Unless you want to wipe yourself with leaves, make sure to bring some toilet paper with you. While campgrounds with bathroom facilities have toilet paper, they occasionally run out of it, so having some with you comes in pretty handy. And if you’re camping or hiking in more remote areas, you’ll definitely need it. In this case, make sure to buy biodegradable toilet paper to avoid damaging the environment.
Last but not least, bring your phone and make sure it’s fully charged. Having a wireless charger on you is also wise because you will likely need it to recharge your phone.
Pack Your Outdoor Essentials and Get Going
Now you know some of the most vital outdoor essentials you may need in the great outdoors on your adventures. An otherwise great trip can be ruined without these items so make sure to plan and pack wisely.
If you need some of the items for your outdoor journeys like hiker boots or thermos, feel free to browse our website and find what you’re looking for.