With the weather getting warmer it's the perfect time to start planning a hiking trip, whether it's just for the day or for a multi-day camping trip. Of course your kit will vary depending on the weather, where you're hiking, length of planned route etc., but this kit list will help give you an idea of what things to pack.
Let us know in the comments if there is anything else you'd bring, or kit that you love using.
*Any products we mention are because they're tried and tested favourites of the UE team, not sponsored in any way.
Backpack (normally we'd take a 25-30L backpack for a day hike)
Water (minimum 2L for a day)
Food and snacks
Map and compass
Walking trousers or leggings
Fleece or warm layers
Thick socks (wool or wool-blend are ideal)
Sun hat or beanie hat depending on weather
Waterproof jacket (and trousers if there's a strong chance of rain)
Boots or trail shoes
First Aid Kit
Warm layer for if the weather changes
Group shelter or emergency survival bag
Any backpack will be fine for hiking, but hiking rucksacks are normally comfier on long days or with heavy kit. Make sure to waterproof your essentials inside your pack in case of rain. 25-30L is an ideal size for a day hike in summer.
Any water bottles or water bladders will work fine. Some people prefer water bladders as it's easier to drink on the move as you don't have to stop to take bottles out, whilst other people prefer the simplicity of bottles. We love Nalgene water bottles, they're (almost!) indestructible so perfect for taking out hiking.
Top tip for water bladders: it can be really hard to keep the tubing clean; in between uses wash and dry the water bladder and then store in the freezer. This prevents anything growing in your water bladder.
Food and snacks:
Lunch is always a highlight of the day. What you choose to bring is very much down to personal preference. Some of our favourite hiking lunches include:
Peanut butter sandwiches
Rice cakes, cheese, and dried meat like beef jerky or biltong
Chilli and rice in a hot flask
Snacks are also crucial to keep you fuelled throughout the day. Top favourites include: cereal bars, apples, Soreen malt loaf, trail mix, M&Ms, and sweets for a quick pick-me-up.
Remember to pack enough food to take into account how strenuous your day will be , there is nothing worse than going to bed hungry on an overnight trip.
Your emergency snack should be an extra item above what you think you'll need for the day. This could be anything from a cereal bar to Kendal mint cake.
Map and compass:
OS Maps are amazing in the UK, with every area covered. There are two different OS scales available, 1:25,000 (OS Explorer) and 1:50,000 (OS Landranger). Normally for walking the Explorer maps are better as they provide more detail. Harvey maps are also available for lots of UK areas but check the scale as they can be anything from 1:25,000 to 1:100,000. Having a map and compass are essential for safe navigation.
If you're keen to learn how to map read you can come join us on our Wales course. Alternatively, Mountain Training run lots of navigation and skills training courses.
Your phone is essential for calling for help if you need it, so having a way to charge it is important. This is especially important if you're using your phone for navigation. Apps like OS Locate are great for supplementing a paper map and compass, or the OS map app can be used for digital maps. Battery packs can also be used to charge headtorches on longer trips.
Your clothing choice will be very dependent on the weather. Even in summer, UK weather can be very variable. Remember to bear in mind the difference in temperature if your route takes you to higher elevations. For every 100 metre you can estimate a roughly 0.6-0.7°C drop in air temperature (1). Wind speeds typically increase at higher elevations also, so the 'feels like' temperature will be colder.
Layering is the best way to manage temperature changes. A synthetic top is best as a baselayer as they wick away sweat better than cotton. On top of this, fleece layers are ideal. A windproof layer is also important, this can either be a waterproof jacket or a softshell layer. Carrying an extra insulating layer, either down or synthetic, can be useful either for colder weather, higher elevations, or for emergencies.
Choosing the right shoes for your hike is essential, both for comfort and safety. Some things to consider:
Hiking boots typically offer better ankle support than trail shoes or trainers which reduces your risk of sprained ankles.
Boots or trail shoes offer better grip on rough terrain than trainers.
Waterproof boots will make hiking in the UK much more pleasant as there are often lots of puddles or boggy patches, even throughout summer.
'Wearing in' boots before a big hike is key to avoiding blisters, as well as taping any hotspots before they develop into blisters.
Basic First Aid Kit:
Everyone will carry different things in their first aid kit, but here are some things we would recommend:
Plasters - these take up next to no space and are useful for cuts and scrapes.
Tape - tape is great for reducing friction over hot-spots on your feet. Carrying a few sections of pre-cut tape will make your foot care quicker. We'd recommend cutting the corners into curves in advance, as this reduces the chance of the corners rubbing and coming off.
Alcohol wipes - again these take up almost no space and can be useful for cleaning cuts and scrapes.
Medications - if you need any personal medication make sure you've packed it; we often take paracetamol, ibuprofen and anti-histamines as well.
Tick remover - these can be bought from Amazon or outdoor stores. They are either tweezers or like a credit card, and very easy to use.
Bug repellent - bug spray can reduce the chance of being bitten by ticks, mosquitoes and midges. Some areas are worse than others in terms of bugs, for example Scottish midges during the summer months can be really bad.
Sun cream - carrying a small bottle with you can prevent painful sunburn, particularly when it's an unexpectedly sunny day.
Some other things to consider include sterile gloves, scissors, and larger dressings, water purification tablets.
Although emergency kit isn't something you'll use on every hike, it's essential for keeping yourself safe if anything goes wrong, whether that's an injury, bad weather, or something else.
If you're walking with a group, having group bothy shelters can keep your whole group warm and dry(ish) if you have to stop for an injury or bad weather. They're definitely not super comfortable but they are warm when everyone is inside. We use bothy shelters often on our Cairngorms and Wales courses. Bothy shelters are available for different sizes of groups, from 2-person to 12-person.
Survival bags are tough plastic wraps which aim to keep you warm by reducing evaporative heat loss, as well as keeping you dry. They're lightweight to carry and inexpensive to buy, so are good for hiking by yourself.
Carrying a headtorch is really important, even if you're not planning to be out after dark. If you get lost or your route takes longer than expected you can end up still being walking as the sun is setting. Having a headtorch with you will make finding your way home significantly easier. A headtorch is better than using a phone torch as it keeps your hands free for map-reading or keeping you safe on a scrambly route; it also preserves your phone battery in case you need to call for help. If you know you'll need to use your headtorch lots over a trip, make sure to pack a battery pack/spare batteries or a second headtorch.
Let us know in the comments if there is anything else you would recommend packing.