Hiking – 15 things you should always pack in your backpack

September 20, 2015

When I pack my backpack for a hike, there are some things I ALWAYS pack. No matter how long the distance might be. Hikes know: be always prepared to change your plans. You might discover a new promising trail and all of a sudden, a 10 miles-hike might become 15 miles… or even more.Sometimes there is no marked route and you might get lost. The weather could change rapidly . Just a bad step and you end up with a bleeding knee. I always expect such incidents.

You will always find the following basic items in my backpack:

  • Drinking bladder
  • Topographical map
  • First-aid-bag
  • Snacks and other food
  • Tissues
  • Moist toiletpaper
  • Sun protection
  • Matches/ lighter
  • Signaling whistle
  • Flashlight
  • Pocket knife
  • Mobile phone
  • Portable charger
  • ID, drivers licence, credit card
  • Cash

Drinking bladder

I use a 3 litre Camelbak bladder for dayhikes and additional bottlewater for hikes during summer. The great advantage compared to bottled water: you can always drink a sip while moving and without taking off the backpack. There is one rule: drink before you get thursty.

Topographical map

The right map for the area. You never know where you will end up.


I only carry things for a case of emergency:  bandage, patch, blister patch, disinfectant, pain killer, pills against allergies, stomage pain or diarrhea, rescue blanket, scissors, aseptic gloves and sewing kit. I do not take medicine for illness like a cold which is not life-threatening. And everytime I hope that I won’t need any of this.

Snacks and other food

The kind and the amout of snacks depends on the hike and the hiker. When I am hiking, I become a real sweettooth. So I take chocolate, small cakes, cookies and granola bars with me. I am a big fan of trail mixes containing salty nuts and dried fruits to fill up the lost carbohydrates and electrolytes. Bananas and hard cured sausages might be an addition.


Nothing to say about that

Moist toiletpaper

You never know when you have to releave yourself. So be prepared.

Sun protection

This is essential, even when the weather is cloudy. UV radiation is getting through the clouds. So protect you skin from skin cancer.

Matches/ Lighter

For emergencies to desinfect a needle or light a fire to get warm.

Signaling whistle

As long as your mobile you will rely on it. But if there is not network coverage or the battery is low, the whistle is the thing to call for attention. And if you are in a bad condition and weak, you can much longer blow a whistle than scream for help.


If you started your hike or returned to late, took longer or got lost, you might be surprised by sunset. To get home safe, always carry at least one source of light. To have your hands free while hiking in the dark, buy a headlamp.

Having a source of light makes you prepared for an unexpected adventure if you discover a cave on you way.

Pocket knife

THE versatile instrument of all – if you use it as a tool or to defend yourself. One day I had to carve a for since I forget one.

Mobile phone

You can call in case of an emergency or just to tell your loved ones that you are ok. With digital maps you can use it for orientation, to take picture or track you activity.

Portable charger

I carry an outdoor portable charger that is shock- and dust proof. With a capacity of 9.000 mA you can charge your iPhone about 3 times.

ID, drivers licence, credit card

Even if it is unlikely that you can use your credit card in the wilderness, I carry it with me anyway. Carry your ID, so that you can prove your identity.


Some might only accept cash instead of plastic.


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