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10 Hiking Essentials

While everyone has favorite things that they pack on hike day, there are a few things that should absolutely be in your pack for longer hikes. You can skimp slightly if you're doing an urban hike but why not always keep these in the backpack you hike with for good measure? While the details of this list may vary slightly, here are 10 things you should have with you or in your pack every time you go out on the trail:


  • Wear a watch. A cell phone eventually loses juice and is not the same.
  • A map. If you are not with a group, leave your planned route and what time you started out in your car.
  • Water and extra food.
  • An ID card. See below for some recommended things to include.
  • A light. This can be a tiny LED thing on a keychain, a flashlight, a headlamp.
  • A whistle. Cheap is fine.
  • A rain poncho. You can also carry a large plastic trash bag.
  • A simple first aid kit. This does not need to be fancy.
  • At least one extra layer, appropriate for the season.
  • Your common sense. Pay attention to your surroundings and remain aware.

  • BONUS: Don't hike alone! While you probably can't pack a friend in your backpack, this is an essential that our friend Bob Richards with the State of Tennessee likes to mention.

Did number 10 surprise you? Maybe. It's the number one best thing you can do to make sure that you remain safe while you're out on the trail. Being in the outdoors, even for a short day hike, requires folks to pay special attention to their environment. While we're often a hop, skip and jump away from major roads or houses, walking a trail is not the same as taking a walk in your neighborhood.

Also see the great resource on the REI site: The Ten Essentials.

Okay, the ID card. The idea here is that if anything happens to you while you're out on the trail and someone needs to give information to paramedics for you, they would be able to find this ID card in your pack and help you get professional help right away. Here are the recommended things to include:


First Name, Last Name
City and State

Date of Birth (many hospitals require this before they'll treat a patient)
Special Conditions or Allergies: diabetic, allergic to penicillin, pacemaker, asthma, etc

Local Emergency Contact Name
Local Emergency Contact Number

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Hike posting template September 11, 2012 7:51 AM Kelly S.
Gear Checklist - Nashville Hiking Meetup May 3, 2010 3:05 PM Kelly S.
Hike Rating System August 19, 2013 1:43 PM Kelly S.
Code of Conduct - Nashville Hiking Meetup October 8, 2013 8:38 PM Kelly S.
Volunteer Weekend at Cumberland Trail - Stony Fork May 28, 2008 1:57 PM Kelly S.
First Aid Kit January 1, 2008 3:21 PM Kelly S.
10 Hiking Essentials April 13, 2013 7:14 AM Kelly S.
About Nashville Hiking Meetup June 25, 2018 6:08 AM Kelly S.

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