LAST UPDATED: March 14, 2021
Best Hiking Gear (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
With the right gear, you can hike anywhere you desire.
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
PUBLISHED ON March 14, 2021
Taking a stroll in the woods is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. Aren’t you ready to take this hobby up a notch and go on a serious hike? These trips are more than just a walk in your local park. They’re all day or even multi-day trips out into the backcountry wilderness. If you’re going to head out into the great unknown, you need to have the right gear at your side. Put on comfortable clothing, sturdy boots, and pack your backpack. Pack plenty of food and water to last your entire hike. Remember, planning for the worst ensures you have a fun and safe hike and ensure you’re prepared for anything. This guide will help you understand what gear is a must-have for your next trip.
Have everything you need with this survival kit. It includes a compass, water bottle clip, wire saw, multi-tool, tactical pen, flashlight, flintstone, mini light, whistle, and an emergency blanket.
- Weighs 1.11 pounds
- Waterproof and shockproof case
- Hard to pack
- Lacks durability
Protect yourself from insects with this powerful repellent for up to ten hours. Works against mosquitos, ticks, gnats, biting flies, chiggers, and fleas.
- 11 percent DEET
- Sprays upside down
- Feels oily
- Spray cap not durable
This 40-liter backpack has a waterproof wet pocket and hidden back zipper. It’s constructed of tear and water-resistant nylon fabric. It weighs 0.7 pounds and can fold down into its pocket.
- Breathable mesh shoulder straps
- Has bar tacks at major stress points
- Hard to load
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Hiking Gear
- Enjoyment. You should enjoy your time hiking. It should be fun to head out into the wilderness and spend some time outdoors. The gear makes you more comfortable and better able to enjoy your time hiking.
- Safety. It can be dangerous to hike out into the middle of nowhere without the right gear. You risk dehydration, starvation, and exposure. Bringing gear on your hike keeps you happy and healthy.
- Better fitness. Hiking is great for your health. You’re more likely to go when you have the right gear. Buying the necessary gear means you’ll go hiking more often and have better overall fitness.
Types of Hiking Gear
Wearing the right clothing will keep you comfortable. In cold temperatures, it will insulate you by reflecting your body heat toward you. It’ll also wick away moisture to keep you dry and prevent chills. Warm weather clothing will be breathable and moisture-wicking. This will also keep you cool and dry in the hottest of temperatures. Look for innovative materials and reinforced seams.
Always buy your clothing in the correct size. Too small, and it will constrict your blood flow and bind you up. If it's too big, it’ll be baggy and catch on the brush and branches.
Getting hurt while in a remote location is more dangerous than anywhere else because you’re so far removed from medical assistance. A small kit will include the essentials, such as bandages and disinfectants. Consider where you’re camping when choosing your first aid kit.
Choose one that’s tailored to where you’re going. Cold weather hiking could call for bringing an emergency heat blanket. While warm weather camping could require your kit to have sunburn cream.
Navigation gear is essential when hiking. There are no road signs in the forest, so you’re dependent on yourself to get where you’re going. Remember that cell phone signals are not reliable in remote locations, so you need skills and reliable tools.
In addition to navigation tools, you also should consider emergency devices. An emergency beacon can signal to emergency services that you need help and where to find you.
LifeStraw is a product of Vestergaard, which is a company dedicated to being an innovative leader in the global war against disease. The company focuses on helping vulnerable populations by developing affordable products that will make life safe. The LifeStraw Flex Advanced Water Filter with Gravity Bag will be perfect for creating a water supply while camping.
This small family-owned business is committed to those who love hiking. Its mission is to produce high-quality products that people can depend on, whether you’re an occasional hiker or a veteran. These TrailBuddy 6-Piece Pack Rubber Tips are perfect for maintaining your trekking poles.
Founded in 1981, Merrell is based in Waitsfield, Vt. This footwear company is one of the most well-known and trusted for manufacturing top-quality high-performance hiking boots. This Merrell Men's Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoe will be supportive and durable for many miles.
Hiking Gear Pricing
- Under $20: You can find several pieces of hiking gear in this category. These are small items or those that are designed for single-use. Paracord bracelets, foot cream, mini first aid kits, LifeStraw, socks, and bug repellent.
- $20 to $50: Hiking gear in this price range uses quality materials and has multiple functions. Items in this price range are trekking poles, bags, and survival kits.
- $50 and up: Larger pieces of gear like backpacks and clothing tend to be in this price range. They’ll use innovative materials and multiple comfort features to help you perform your best.
The gear that you buy needs to last. At a minimum, it should last your entire camping trip. At best, it should last through several camping trips for years of use. The worst thing that can happen is to have your gear fail when you need it most out in the middle of nowhere. To buy the most durable gear, pay more attention to quality than price. Strong materials and sturdy construction should be used.
Weight is everything when you’re camping. You’ll have to carry everything that you want to bring with you. Heavy gear will require you to exert more energy and thus get tired faster. Look for gear that’s made from lighter-weight materials. This will reduce the overall weight you have to carry. Choosing gear that is multifunctional is also smart. This reduces the amount of gear you have to carry.
You need gear that you can depend on. This is different from durability. Reliable gear performs the way you expect it to every time you use it. Look for gear that’s simple and straightforward to use. The less complicated it is, the more reliably it will perform. This can also apply to the quality of construction so that your gear not only performs but does so accurately.
- Size. When you’re carrying everything, size is crucial. Larger and bulkier gear is hard to carry by yourself. Some gear could be light in weight but large in size. This is just as troublesome. Look for gear that folds down small to a compact size for easier carrying while hiking. Gear that’s too large will limit your ability to gear other items that you may need.
- Maintenance Requirements. All quality gear will require a certain amount of maintenance. However, you don’t want to buy gear that’s constantly requiring maintenance and repairs. You’ll end up spending more time caring for your gear than actually using it. Also, consider the maintenance routine. Occasional maintenance isn’t bad until you realize that these maintenance requirements are time-consuming and expensive.
- Price. There’s no denying that price is a factor when buying your hiking gear. Try to buy the best quality gear that you can comfortably afford. As a beginner, don’t buy all of the most expensive gear you can find before you know hiking is for you. Don’t buy the cheapest gear either. This gear is often low quality and won’t perform reliably.
Best Hiking Gear Reviews & Recommendations 2021
This versatile pack has everything you need to survive in the wild. It includes a compass, flintstone, emergency blanket, water bottle clip, whistle, tactical pen, flashlight, survival knife, wire saw, mini light, and an 11 in one multi-tool. Everything packs away into a compact black carrying case. When packed, it measures 6.6 x 4.3 x 1.9 inches and weighs 1.11 pounds. The outer case has a foam lining and is waterproof and shockproof. The tools are made of high-quality materials to ensure their durability. The whistle is aluminum and can reach 120 decibels. The tactical pen can break glass. The survival knife has an anti-rust steel blade.
Unfortunately, the pack is hard to reload once you open it up. It also lacks durability compared to buying each of these tools individually. However, this kit is perfect for the beginner on a budget.
Spray this insect repellent all over your exposed skin and protect yourself from becoming an insect’s lunch. Each application can last for up to ten hours. The effective formula contains 11 percent DEET and works to repel mosquitos, ticks, gnats, biting flies, chiggers, and fleas. This repellent stands out because the formula also contains the oil of lemon eucalyptus. This plant-based ingredient is recommended by the CDC and is derived from the Eucalyptus citriodora tree’s oil. It’s safe to spray this repellent on nylon, cotton, and wool.
The downside of this repellent is that it can feel oily. The spray cap on the bottle isn’t very durable and can break from pressure or impact. You also shouldn’t spray it on synthetic fabrics like rayon, spandex, and acetate.
Bring everything you need in this 40-liter backpack. It’s constructed of tear and water-resistant nylon fabric and weighs 0.7 pounds. There is one main compartment as well as multiple smaller compartments to help you stay organized. An outside mesh pocket is perfect for holding your water bottle. An internal wet pocket is perfect for keeping everything else dry. There’s a convenient outer zipper on the back of the backpack for loading wet items. The shoulder straps are cushioned and breathable for long-wear comfort. Bar tacks at all of the major stress points make the backpack more durable. The backpack stands out for its ability to pack down into its pocket.
Unfortunately, the material feels flimsy, and the backpack lacks support. This can make it hard to load and unload.
Make your feet happy with these cushioned fine gauge knit socks. They’re a blend of 50 percent cotton, 45 percent nylon, and 5 percent Lycra. Choose from small or medium for a custom fit. The socks will come up to just over your ankle. The gentle elasticity of the socks helps them to stay in place without squeezing too hard. You’ll love how breathable and fast drying they are. The bottom is slightly thinner and extra cushioning for increased support and comfort. Your pack of socks will come with five pairs, each in a different color.
One drawback of these socks is how thin they are. This can cause them to wear out faster than other socks. The socks promise no blisters, but this isn’t always true.
Carry this personal life straw when hiking, camping, or traveling. A straw can filter up to 1,000 gallons of water. It stands out because you don’t need chlorine, iodine, or any other chemicals. Drink with confidence as it removes at minimum 99.9999 percent of waterborne bacteria and 99.9 percent of waterborne protozoan parasites. It meets EPA filter standards. You’ll love that it only weighs 2 ounces, making it lightweight and small enough to carry with you. It also comes in a sealed bag, ensuring it’s clean and uncontaminated. You can buy a single straw or multi-packs of two, three, or five.
Unfortunately, you’ll need to suck hard on the straw to get water to come through the straw. You’ll also need to soak it before you use it for the first time.
These aircraft-grade aluminum trekking poles are more durable than carbon fiber. Change the telescoping poles’ height from 24.5 to 54 inches with ease, including when wet or while wearing gloves. The handles have a cork cushion, making them moisture-wicking and comfortable in hot and cold weather. They’ll mold to your hands for a custom fit. Choose from black, blue, red, green, yellow, pink, purple, and aqua for your poles’ color accents. They also come with two pairs of rubber tips, a pair of connectors, mud baskets, and a carrying bag.
One frustrating feature is the adjustable wrist strap. It’s easy to tighten but more difficult to loosen. They also lack the shock absorption qualities that other trekking poles have.
This convenient first aid kit packs everything into a carrying case. It packs 85 supplies that help you treat small cuts, scrapes, minor aches, and injuries. Two mesh pockets keep everything neat and orderly in the pouch. There are two full-way zippers securing the pockets. The pouch is EVA and waterproof, measuring 6 x 4.3 x 2.4 inches and weighs 0.56 pounds. A metal carabiner makes it easy to clip this kit onto your belt loop, backpack, or anywhere else. Your kit includes a first aid guide, bandages, gauze, alcohol pads, scissors, whistle, tweezers, gloves, and adhesive tape.
Unfortunately, the band-aids inside aren’t the best quality. You can easily replace them with the ones you'd prefer to have. The carabiner isn’t very durable, which can cause it to break or snap open.
Slip these waterproof boots on your feet and feel the comfort. The upper is constructed of 100 percent suede. The sole is a thick, durable rubber. You’ll like the high shaft of the boot and a 6-inch opening at the top. To keep your feet dry, there’s an M select dry barrier lining the interior of the boot. This impermeable membrane seals the water out. The pigskin leather and mesh panels in the upper allows moisture from your feet to escape. This boot stands out with its closed-cell foam tongue that seals moisture and debris out. This boot also has a protective rubber tow cap to give increased durability to the boot’s front.
One drawback of these boots is the lack of grip from the outsoles. This can make these shoes less than ideal for slippery surfaces. They also have a lack of arch support, making them best for flat feet.
This advanced blister protection cream is a must for long hikes. It gives you advanced blister protection that will last all day with a single application. You can use it in wet and dry conditions. It stands out for not leaving any stains or gross residues. The squeeze tube has an easy applicator cap for applying it to your feet. The specially formulated cream integrates with your sweat for durable protection. The cream creates a friction-free layer between your feet and your socks to prevent blisters. The tube comes in a five-pack, so it’ll last for plenty of hiking trips. You could also purchase single-use packets for easier carrying.
Unfortunately, the product can feel greasy and slippery on your feet. If you use it with the wrong type of socks, your feet will slide around in your shoes while walking. This will cause blisters.
Slip this paracord bracelet on your wrist and easily carry gear with you anywhere. You’ll get a pack of two bracelets, one black, and one orange. There are five survival gear essentials packed into this one bracelet. You’ll have a fire starter, Ferro rod striker, compass, emergency whistle, and 12 feet of military-grade paracord. This bracelet stands out from others because it’s adjustable, so no worrying about getting the right size. It can adjust to fit wrists that measure seven to nine and a half inches around. A durable buckle makes putting the bracelet on and taking it off easy.
One drawback of this bracelet is that it’s very stiff, so there’s an extended break-in period before it will become comfortable. The compass can also be unreliable when determining north.
- Test your camping gear out before you take it on a camping trip. Set everything up and turn anything on that can. This lets you figure out how it all works and that it does work.
- Check your gear after your trip and make any necessary repairs and cleaning. This preserves the quality of your gear and makes it ready for your next trip.
- Look for trusted brands that you’ve had good experiences with. This helps you have equipment that works together, is high-quality, and performs reliably.
Q: What is the essential gear for hiking?
You need a backpack for carrying all of your gear. You need appropriate clothing that will keep you comfortable and dry. Sturdy and protective shoes are crucial. A mini first aid kit is good just in case you get injured while on your hike. Bring enough food and water to last the length of your hike.
Q: What are the 10 essentials for hiking?
The 10 items that are essential for hiking are navigation tools, headlamp, sun protection, first aid, knife, fire, shelter, extra food, extra water, and extra clothing. These items will keep you comfortable, making hiking more fun, and keep you safe.
Q: What should you not wear while hiking?
Denim is terrible. It’s restricting, not breathable, and heavy. Cotton is also a bad idea. It absorbs your sweat and is slow drying. No-show socks are also a bad idea because they aren’t fully protective and can slip down off your feet.
Q: Why is hiking gear so expensive?
Your gear doesn’t have to be expensive. However, high-quality gear has a durable construction and uses high-quality materials. Some gear you can buy cheap because it’s designed to be disposable. Other pieces of gear you should invest in more expensive options that are meant for long-term use.
The Trscind Survival Gear Kit is packed with useful tools that help you be ready for anything while out on your hike. You’ll appreciate that it’s lightweight, waterproof, and shockproof.
An affordable alternative is the Repel Insect Repellent, with its easy application and a broad range of insect-repelling abilities.