Basic Mountain Hiking Gear

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Hiking Kit List

Keeping a kit list on your phone is a great way to make sure you always pack everything you need

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While hiking gear can change from trail to trail, and from season to season, the following items will serve you well on every hike. They are a fleshing out of The Ten Essentials (the absolute bare minimum you should pack for every hike). This hiking gear list focuses on day-hiking.

Quick Tip: I used to leave one thing behind pretty regularly. So I started using my phone’s notes app to keep track of what I need to pack. I have the following hiking checklists in a single note so I can quickly tap off items. It’s a great way to make sure I’ve packed everything I need.

Backpack Food

I keep most of these items in easily-accessible pockets and pouches, so I don’t have to take off my backpack to reach them. I keep my water close, and my candy closer.

  • Water (2.5 liter reservoir, full)
  • Frozen Gatorade (summer)
  • Sandwich / Apple
  • Chocolate / Candy
  • Napkins, Alcohol Swabs, Toothpicks (these little things make a big difference)

Standard Hiking Gear

I keep most of these items on an Amazon Hiking Gear List so they’re easy to find.

These items are packed high, or on outer pockets, for quick, easy access.

These items are packed down low, or in side pockets. This is the stuff I need infrequently, rarely, and maybe never.

I keep most of these items on an Amazon Hiking Gear List so they’re easy to find.

Photography Gear

I carry an old Canon EOS T1i (500D) with three prime lenses: 20mm, 50mm, 85mm. Photography-wise, my iPhone XR does most of the heavy lifting — but I love having a long lens, and I sometimes use a wide-angle lens for landscapes. It’s not the most compact set-up, but I got a great deal on the Canon body so it’s just how I roll.

  • Camera & Lenses
  • Extra Batteries
  • Camera Tripod
  • Phone Tripod

Total Weight

Fully loaded with food, kit and water, my backpack weighs about 20 lbs (9 kilos). Some people prefer lighter, around 15 lbs. Some hikers have pared down their backpack to a magical-sounding 10 lbs. In which case, I have questions.

On the other hand, I tend to over-prepare and over-pack. But I don’t mind carrying a little too much — what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.

Body Check

Okay, those are my regular hiking checklists. Now…

Weather Check

Always check the weather forecast for the trail you’ll be hiking — and make sure you are fully prepared for sudden changes in weather.

More Hiking Checklists

I have several additional lists in my note, but they’re for specific situations beyond the typical Catskill day-hike.

  • I’ve written about my Winter Hiking Kit.
  • Grab the Winter Day-Hike Checklist — a handy PDF download with everything you need listed in one place.
  • I put together a Camping Checklist for my first overnight camp, based on a ton of research. It was so helpful, and I think it might be useful for other camping noobs.
  • I also have a Trail Maintenance Checklist so I don’t forget the few extra tools I need for doing my trail work.
  • I made yet another list for my first hike in the Adirondacks this summer, because the length of that hike meant some tweaks geared to the extra time and extra wear-and-tear…

Final Door Check

With everything in my pack, I’m still not done. After all that, the number of times I still forgot something basic! Now, I stand inside my front door and check off…

  • Phone, Wallet, Shades — yup!
  • Hiking Poles — I’ve had these inexpensive CMT trekking poles for years, and they’re great, but I recently got a pair of Black Diamond trail trekking poles which I really love
  • Gaiters — can’t recommend them enough — I tried a cheap pair from Amazon which only lasted a season even with a few repairs, but now have a pair of Outdoor Research gaiters which are the absolute business
  • Ice Box with 1 Cold Soda  — a fantastic post-hike treat in the warmer months
  • Shoe/Sock Change — another absolutely brilliant post-hike hack

Read More

You don’t need every item on this list to get out the door. Just make sure you always pack The Ten Essentials and the correct Catskills emergency number!

Always pack a headlamp or two.

In winter, in the mountains, you really do need proper winter traction.

Your comments are welcome here…