Fiona Outdoors logo My independent guide to the best of Scotland outdoors

What to keep in your hiking backpack

Written by Fiona

March 24 2023

If you are someone who loves hiking in the great outdoors, then you will know that your backpack is the most important piece of gear you have. Not only does it have everything you will need for your hike, but it can also help you survive in the event of an emergency. 

If you are new to hiking and don’t know where to start regarding gear, here is everything you need to know about what you put in your backpack.

The essentials 

The first thing you need to do is to pack your essentials. In a small bag, you should have your phone, sunglasses, medication, vape juice. This should be a bag that has your most important pieces of gear. It is also important to ensure that the bag is waterproof and can easily fit into your pack or be hooked onto it securely. 

Water & food

Next, you should pack enough water for the hike, as well as some hiking snacks and meals. The need for water is obvious, but you also need food that can keep your energy up, as well as provide the nutrients you need for a long day on the trail. 

While meals aren’t necessary for a day hike, it’s a good idea to have some emergency snacks in case you end up out on the trail for longer than expected.

Extra clothing

Apart from the clothing you will wear, it is also necessary to bring a few extra items, including socks, a waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, gloves and hat. In winter, you’ll also need crampons, an ice axe and more spare clothing layers.


A multitool is a good idea, too. You may ned to use a knife or tweezers, for example.

Emergency shelter 

Once again, in the event of an emergency, you don’t want to be at the mercy of the elements. While carrying an entire tent isn’t necessary, having a tarp, bivvy bag or foil blanket, that can be used as cover is a must. 

Most camping tarps are lightweight, but they are very versatile as they can be used as a ground sheet or as a cover against wind and rain. 

Other extras: Cooking system and first aid kit

It’s a good idea to carry some kind of camp cooking set-up and a way to light it. A small first-aid kit is another good idea for your hiking backpack. You never know what can happen on the trail, therefore, you want to be prepared for most types of injuries and problems you could face.  It should contain plasters and bandages, medical tape, disinfectant wipes, and a gel or cream for insect bites. In addition, you should have headache tablets, as well as medication for stomach problems. 

What to remember

When you are packing your bag, there are a few things you should remember to ensure you have everything you need and to be as prepared as possible. 

Pack smart

There is a big difference between packing everything you have and packing everything you might need. If you are going on a well-travelled path that isn’t too remote, you more than likely don’t need many of the things listed here. 

However, being overprepared is better than being underprepared. Packing smart means packing items that are versatile, hence why something like a multitool will always be better than a separate knife, saw, etc. 


Always organise your pack in a way so that your most important items are the easiest to reach. Packing cubes and smaller bags can help you separate all of your gear and let you know what you have. 

This will help before you even leave your home, too, as you will just need to remember to pack your individual bags instead of having to think of each individual piece of gear. 

Pack backups

Finally, it is always important to have backups. This can mean different things, though, as mentioned already, you should have multiple fire sources, but a backup for a phone would be an external battery. 

You never know what you are going to use or how much of it you will use. This is why having extras will make your life so much easier. 

More Like This


Review: New ‘traceable activewear’ collection from BAM


Review: Berghaus 3D Freeflow 30+5L daysack


Montane’s Red Nose Day fundraiser


Review: Harrier Lomond insulated jacket


Trail walking shoes or boots? How to choose the right hiking footwear 


How tennis could help you to get fit