11 Essential Survival Gear Items for Hiking

Hey there, fellow outdoor enthusiasts! Ready to hit the trails and explore the great outdoors? Well, before you embark on your adventure, it's crucial to have the right gear by your side. In this article, I'll be sharing with you my top 11 essential survival gear items for hiking. From navigation tools to personal protection items, we'll cover it all. So, let's gear up and ensure our safety as we embark on thrilling hiking journeys!

Key Takeaways

  • Navigation and communication tools are crucial for ensuring safety and staying on the right track during a hiking trip.
  • First aid and personal protection items are essential for treating injuries and staying safe in the wilderness.
  • Fire starters and emergency shelter items are important for providing warmth, protection, and comfort in case of emergencies.
  • Water purification and hydration tools are necessary to ensure a continuous supply of safe drinking water and prevent dehydration during hikes.

Navigation Tools

When it comes to hiking, navigation tools are an essential component of my gear. Two types of compasses that I always carry with me are the baseplate compass and the lensatic compass. The baseplate compass is lightweight and has a clear plastic base which allows me to see the map underneath. It also has a rotating bezel that helps me determine the direction I am heading. On the other hand, the lensatic compass is more durable and precise. It has a sighting lens that I use to line up with distant landmarks, enabling me to accurately navigate through difficult terrains.

Map reading techniques are equally important when it comes to navigating on a hike. I always start by orienting the map to the terrain using the compass. This helps me understand the relationship between the landmarks on the map and the actual landscape. I then identify key features such as rivers, mountains, and trails to determine my location and plan my route accordingly. It's also essential to pay attention to contour lines on the map, which indicate changes in elevation.

Now that we've covered the importance of navigation tools, let's move on to another crucial item in my hiking gear: the first aid kit.

First Aid Kit

I always make sure to pack a well-stocked first aid kit for my hiking trips. When exploring hiking trails, accidents can happen, and having a first aid kit can make all the difference in providing immediate care. A good first aid kit should contain essential items to treat common injuries and emergencies that may occur while hiking.

In my first aid kit, I include adhesive bandages of various sizes to cover cuts, scrapes, and blisters. I also pack sterile gauze pads and adhesive tape for larger wounds. To disinfect wounds and prevent infection, I carry antiseptic wipes or solution. Additionally, I include a pair of tweezers for removing splinters or ticks, as well as scissors for cutting bandages or clothing if needed.

Other important items in my first aid kit include disposable gloves to protect against contamination, a CPR mask for emergencies, and a whistle to signal for help. I also carry pain relievers, antihistamines, and blister treatment pads to alleviate discomfort.

Fire Starters

To ensure my safety and survival while hiking, I always include fire starters in my essential gear. Fire starters are crucial for outdoor cooking and providing warmth in emergency situations. When it comes to fire starters, there are a few options to consider.

One popular choice is a reliable lighter. Lighters are compact, easy to use, and provide a consistent flame. It's important to choose a waterproof lighter to ensure it works in all weather conditions. Another option is waterproof matches. These matches are specially designed to withstand moisture, making them ideal for outdoor use. Additionally, fire starter cubes or tinder can be useful, especially in wet or windy conditions.

Having a backup fire starter is essential in case your primary method fails. In my kit, I always carry a Ferrocerium rod. This compact tool produces sparks when struck against a rough surface and can ignite a fire even in challenging conditions.

Fire starters are not only useful for cooking meals but also for providing warmth and comfort during cold nights in the wilderness. They are a vital part of any hiker's gear, ensuring survival and making outdoor experiences more enjoyable.

Having discussed the importance of fire starters, let's now move on to exploring the various shelter options available for hikers.

Shelter Options

When it comes to shelter options for hiking, there are two main choices to consider: tents and tarps. Tents provide more protection from the elements and privacy, while tarps are lightweight and versatile. Another decision to make is between a sleeping bag and a hammock. Sleeping bags are traditional and offer insulation, while hammocks can be comfortable and provide a unique sleeping experience. Ultimately, the choice depends on personal preference, the weather conditions, and the specific hiking trip.

Tent Vs Tarp

A tent provides a more secure and comfortable shelter option for hiking than a tarp. Here are four reasons why a tent is a better choice:

  1. Protection from the elements: A tent offers better protection against rain, wind, and cold temperatures compared to a tarp, keeping you dry and warm throughout the night.
  2. Privacy: With a tent, you have your own enclosed space, providing privacy and solitude, which is especially important for solo hikers.
  3. Bug-free zone: Tents come with built-in screens, keeping pesky insects out and allowing you to sleep peacefully without worrying about bug bites or buzzing around your head.
  4. Gear storage: Tents offer more space to store your gear, keeping it safe and protected from the elements.

Now, let's move on to the next shelter option: sleeping bag vs hammock.

Sleeping Bag Vs Hammock

I prefer using a sleeping bag as my shelter option while hiking because it provides a cozy and compact sleeping space. However, some hikers opt for a camping hammock as an alternative. One benefit of using a camping hammock is that it eliminates the need for a sleeping pad. The hammock itself acts as a comfortable and supportive place to sleep. This can be particularly advantageous for hikers who prefer a lightweight and minimalistic approach. Additionally, camping hammocks are versatile and can be set up in various locations, such as between trees or even above the ground. They also offer excellent ventilation, keeping you cool during warm nights. However, it's important to note that hammocks may not be suitable for all terrains, and you may need to find suitable trees or anchor points for setup. Overall, the choice between a sleeping bag and a camping hammock comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of your hiking trip.

Water Purification

To ensure safe drinking water while hiking, it is essential to have a reliable water purification system. When out in the wilderness, you can never be too cautious when it comes to the water you consume. Here are four important reasons why water purification is crucial for your hiking adventure:

  1. Protection against harmful contaminants: A good water filtration system removes bacteria, protozoa, and other microorganisms that can cause waterborne illnesses. This ensures that the water you drink is safe and free from harmful contaminants.
  2. Prevention of dehydration: Proper hydration is vital while hiking. A water purification system allows you to purify water from natural sources like streams and lakes, ensuring a continuous supply of safe drinking water to keep you hydrated throughout your journey.
  3. Lightweight and portable: Modern water treatment systems are designed to be lightweight and portable, making them easy to carry in your backpack. They are compact and don't take up much space, allowing you to travel light without compromising on safety.
  4. Peace of mind: With a reliable water purification system, you can have peace of mind knowing that you have a solution to treat water whenever you need it. This eliminates any worries about running out of clean drinking water, even in remote areas.

Having discussed the importance of water purification, let's now move on to the next essential survival gear item for hiking: emergency food.

Emergency Food

One important item to include in your hiking gear is a compact and lightweight supply of emergency food. When you're out in the wilderness, it's crucial to have enough sustenance to keep your energy levels up and your body nourished. While canned food is a popular choice for emergency situations, there are also alternative options that are just as effective and easier to carry.

Here is a comparison of canned food alternatives and DIY emergency food:

Canned Food Alternatives DIY Emergency Food
Energy bars Dehydrated fruits and vegetables
Trail mix Homemade granola
Peanut butter packets Nut butter and crackers
Tuna or chicken pouches Jerky
Meal replacement shakes MRE (Meals Ready to Eat)

When choosing your emergency food, consider factors such as weight, nutritional value, and shelf life. Energy bars and trail mix are lightweight and provide essential nutrients. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables can be easily rehydrated with water, while homemade granola is a tasty and filling option. Nut butter and crackers offer a good balance of protein and carbohydrates, and jerky is a high-protein snack. MREs are pre-packaged meals that require no cooking and have a long shelf life.

Communication Devices

A must-have item for hiking is a reliable communication device. When venturing into the wilderness, it's important to have a way to stay connected with the outside world in case of emergencies or to simply check in with loved ones. Here are four communication devices that are essential for any hiking trip:

  1. Two-way radios: These compact devices allow you to communicate with your hiking companions over short distances. They are ideal for keeping in touch and coordinating your movements on the trail.
  2. Satellite phones: In areas where there is no cell service, a satellite phone can be a lifeline. These devices use satellite networks to provide coverage even in remote locations, ensuring that you can make emergency calls if needed.
  3. Personal locator beacons (PLBs): PLBs are small, portable devices that can send distress signals to search and rescue teams in the event of an emergency. They are a crucial tool for hikers who find themselves in life-threatening situations.
  4. Smartphone with offline maps: While not a replacement for dedicated communication devices, a smartphone with offline maps can be incredibly useful. It allows you to navigate the trail and find your way back to civilization if you get lost.

With these communication devices in your backpack, you can hike with peace of mind, knowing that help is just a call away if you need it. Now, let's move on to another essential item: the multi-tool.


Now let's talk about a must-have item for hiking: the multi-tool. A multi-tool is a versatile tool that can come in handy in various situations during your hike. It combines multiple functions into one compact device, saving space and weight in your backpack.

One of the most common uses of a multi-tool is for cutting. It typically includes a knife blade that can be used to cut ropes, open packages, or prepare food. Additionally, many multi-tools feature a pair of pliers, which can be useful for tasks like removing splinters or repairing gear.

Maintenance of your multi-tool is important to ensure its longevity and functionality. Regular cleaning and lubrication will prevent rust and keep the moving parts working smoothly. It's also a good idea to check the tool for any loose or damaged components before each hike.

Remember to always use the appropriate tool for the task at hand, as using the wrong tool can lead to accidents or damage. Following the manufacturer's instructions and practicing proper safety precautions is essential.

Survival Knife

I always make sure to have a reliable survival knife with me when I go hiking. It's an essential tool that can be used for various tasks and can potentially save my life in emergency situations. Here are four reasons why knife maintenance and sharpening techniques are crucial for hikers:

  1. Safety: A properly maintained and sharpened knife reduces the risk of accidents. Dull blades can slip, leading to injuries. Regular maintenance ensures that the knife is in optimal condition for use.
  2. Versatility: A well-maintained knife can be used for a wide range of tasks, such as cutting ropes, preparing food, or building a shelter. By keeping the blade sharp, you maximize its effectiveness and utility in different situations.
  3. Longevity: Taking care of your knife extends its lifespan. Regular cleaning, lubrication, and sharpening prevent rust and corrosion, ensuring that your knife will serve you well for years to come.
  4. Preparedness: When venturing into the wilderness, you never know what challenges you may face. By maintaining and sharpening your knife, you are better prepared for any unexpected situations that may arise during your hike.

Lighting Equipment

When it comes to hiking, having the right lighting equipment is crucial for safety and convenience. There are various types of headlamps available, offering hands-free illumination and adjustable brightness settings. Portable lanterns are another great option, providing a wider range of light and often featuring multiple brightness levels. Lastly, solar-powered lighting solutions are an eco-friendly alternative that harnesses the sun's energy to keep your campsite well-lit.

Types of Headlamps

One essential type of lighting equipment for hiking is the versatile headlamp. Headlamps are lightweight and convenient, providing hands-free illumination for hikers in low-light or dark conditions. Here are four key headlamp features to consider when choosing the right one for your hiking adventures:

  1. Brightness: Look for a headlamp with adjustable brightness settings to suit different lighting needs.
  2. Beam Distance: Consider headlamps with a long beam distance for better visibility in the distance.
  3. Battery Life: Opt for headlamps with longer battery life to ensure they last throughout your hiking trips.
  4. Waterproofing: Choose headlamps that are waterproof or water-resistant to withstand rainy or wet conditions.

Headlamp technology has advanced significantly, allowing for brighter and more efficient illumination. With these features in mind, you can find a headlamp that meets your hiking needs and ensures a well-lit journey.

Portable Lantern Options

A portable lantern is an essential piece of lighting equipment for hiking. When it comes to portable lantern options, there are two key factors to consider: solar powered lanterns and lightweight lantern options.

Solar powered lanterns are a great choice for hikers as they rely on renewable energy and eliminate the need for batteries. They harness the power of the sun during the day and provide light at night. Look for models that have a built-in solar panel for easy charging.

For those looking for a lightweight option, there are lanterns specifically designed to be compact and easy to carry. These lanterns are usually made of lightweight materials such as aluminum or plastic, making them ideal for backpacking trips. Look for lanterns that have collapsible features to save space in your backpack.

Solar-Powered Lighting Solutions

I prefer using solar-powered lighting solutions for hiking trips. Not only are they environmentally friendly, but they also provide a reliable source of light without the need for batteries or fuel. Here are four reasons why solar-powered lighting solutions are a must-have for any hiker:

  1. Energy-efficient: Solar-powered lights use the sun's energy to recharge their batteries, making them a sustainable and cost-effective option for long hikes.
  2. Compact and lightweight: Unlike traditional lanterns or flashlights, solar-powered lights are compact and lightweight, making them easy to carry in your backpack.
  3. Long-lasting: With advancements in technology, solar-powered lights can provide bright illumination for extended periods, ensuring you have enough light throughout your hiking trip.
  4. Versatile: Solar-powered lights can also serve as a power source for other devices, such as solar-powered phone chargers or even solar-powered water heaters, providing you with additional functionality and convenience on your outdoor adventures.

Investing in solar-powered lighting solutions is not only a practical choice but also a responsible one that helps reduce your carbon footprint while enjoying the great outdoors.

Personal Protection Items

My primary personal protection item for hiking is a sturdy, lightweight hiking pole. While it may not seem like a traditional self-defense tool, a hiking pole can provide added stability and balance on uneven terrain. In case of an emergency or threat, I can also use it to create distance between myself and potential dangers. Additionally, a hiking pole can be used as a makeshift weapon if necessary.

When it comes to personal protection, it's also important to consider alternatives to pepper spray. While pepper spray can be effective, it may not be legal or practical in all situations. Instead, I opt for a loud whistle. In case of an emergency, a whistle can attract attention and aid in signaling for help. It is lightweight, easy to carry, and can be heard from a distance.

In addition to these items, it's essential to be aware of basic self-defense techniques. This includes being mindful of your surroundings, avoiding isolated areas, and trusting your instincts. It's also important to inform someone about your hiking plans and carry a fully charged mobile phone for emergencies.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Choose the Right Navigation Tool for Hiking?

When choosing the right navigation tool for hiking, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. Research the different types of compasses available and choose one that suits your needs and experience level.

What Should I Include in a Basic First Aid Kit for Hiking?

When it comes to hiking, it's important to have a basic first aid kit. You should include appropriate bandages and supplies to treat common hiking injuries like cuts, sprains, and blisters.

Are There Any Specific Fire Starters That Are Recommended for Hiking?

There are various fire starters recommended for hiking, each with their pros and cons. It's important to consider factors like weight, ease of use, and reliability when choosing one.

What Are Some Alternative Shelter Options for Hiking Besides Tents?

When it comes to alternative shelter options for hiking, there are a few lightweight sleeping options to consider. Hammocks are great for those who want to feel like they're sleeping on a cloud, while bivy sacks provide a snug and cozy sleeping experience.

Which Water Purification Method Is the Most Effective for Hiking Trips?

When it comes to water purification methods for hiking trips, the most effective options are hiking water filters and iodine tablets. They ensure that the water you consume is safe and free from harmful bacteria and viruses.


In conclusion, when embarking on a hiking adventure, it is crucial to equip yourself with essential survival gear items. From navigation tools to first aid kits, fire starters to shelter options, water purification to multi-tools, survival knife to lighting equipment, and personal protection items, these are the must-haves for any outdoor enthusiast. Remember, proper preparation prevents potential perils, so pack these practical and purposeful possessions to ensure a safe and successful hike.

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