The best hiking accessories and gear

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best hiking accessories and gear
ByClaire Epting

Besides being great exercise, hiking is a fantastic way to clear your head and soak in the outdoors — as long as you have the right gear. As a rule of thumb, the best hiking accessories and gear are durable, lightweight, and easy to pack or carry. They range from practical essentials such as backpacks and water bottles to emergency supplies that will have your back in a pinch.

On a day hike in any kind of weather, staying hydrated is of the utmost importance, whether you go with a heavy-duty stainless steel water bottle, one made of collapsible silicone, or a hydration backpack that lets you carry a day’s worth of water. Some bottles even come with carabiner clips and paracord handles for hands-free convenience. You’ll also benefit from having a crossbody pack or backpack, so you can stash any emergency items such as a first aid kit, a solar-charged power bank, or a thermal blanket.

When thinking about what to bring on a hike, it’s also smart to expect the unexpected. If you’re hiking in an environment where the weather changes on a dime, it’s a good idea to add some weather-resistant gear to your pack. A lightweight, durable rain poncho doesn’t take up a lot of room, and it gives you some assurance when it comes to unexpected showers. Find yourself in a bout of gusty wind? A fleece neck gaiter helps protect your mouth and nose from the cold air and chapping. If your hike lasts well into the afternoon, a tactical flashlight is great to have on hand too — just in case it gets dark before you’ve finished your trail.

From day hike essentials to survival supplies, consider this your ultimate hiking packing list. Boasting rave reviews from buyers, the best hiking gear will keep you protected, dry, and hydrated — allowing you to focus on the beauty of your surroundings.

Looking for more in-depth reviews of hiking gear? Check out:


The personal water filter

If you run out of water on your hike, you’ll want something on hand that’ll allow you to safely drink from lakes, streams, creeks, and even puddles. Essential hiking gear for the backcountry, the LifeStraw personal water filter removes 99.99% of waterborne bacteria and parasites, including E. coli, salmonella, giardia, and cryptosporidium. It’s small enough to stash in your backpack, and — with proper maintenance — will filter up to 1,000 gallons of water before needing to be replaced. And hikers swear by its functionality — the LifeStraw boasts a 4.8-star overall rating on Amazon after more than 86,000 reviews.

One reviewer wrote: “I took it backpacking on Maine's Bigelow range. When I ran out of the water I brought, I was A-ok with this. [...] On top of one of the lower peaks, I drank from the most disgusting looking crevice filled with brown scum [...] TASTED LIKE THE FRESHEST SPRING WATER. Better than any tap.”

Related: The best backpacking water filters


The hydration backpack

If you’re hitting the trail for a full day, a good hydration backpack can comfortably hold all your essentials as well a good supply of water. This 18-liter pack from Teton is made from rugged ripstop fabric and includes a 2-liter water bladder with hydration ports on both the right and left sides, as well as a waist strap to keep it securely in place. Surprisingly lightweight, it has multiple pockets for snacks and other gear, and the shoulder straps are padded and adjustable.

One reviewer wrote: “I loved using this back pack for hiking! It held everything I needed and never felt heavy. The water storage was great and found that the 2 liter storage was enough, even on longer hikes. I always brought a water bottle with me just in case, but never needed it (longest hike on this trip was 7.5 miles). Also had plenty of room for my tripod, snacks, wallet, and a book.”

  • Available colors and styles: 12

Related: The best backpacking backpacks


The foldable backpack

When you’re not using this packable backpack, it barely takes up any space because you can fold it up and store it inside the included zippered pouch. With a 35-liter capacity, this is ideal for hiking on vacation — just pack it inside your suitcase and unfold it once you reach your destination — or for keeping in your car glove box if you’re a frequent hiker. Made from tear-resistant nylon, the lightweight, water-resistant pack features breathable mesh shoulder straps and side pouches, along with large zippered pockets on the front. A front buckle strap keeps the bag securely in place.

One reviewer wrote: “This backpack got me through a fairly intense hiking around Phoenix, AZ. I carried it on my back for about 12 hours one day, and I have to say it was pretty darn comfortable. Carried like 5 powerade bottles, a spare water bottle, a camera, pants, and a hoodie, with plenty of room to spare.”

  • Available colors: 11

Related: The best packable down jackets


The merino wool socks

Since hiking is all about being on your feet, a set of wool hiking socks should be at the top of your hiking packing list. Wool is naturally thermoregulating, which means it keeps feet feeling fresh in hot weather and warm in cold temperatures, all while wicking away sweat. These particular socks are made from a blend of nylon, acrylic, and merino wool, which is thinner and softer than standard wool. The ventilated mesh helps promote airflow and odor control, and targeted cushioning absorbs shock and prevents blisters. The socks reach to the mid-calves — the longer length protects your ankles from plants or brush.

One reviewer wrote: “Great quality hiking socks! I was hesitant at first to buy wool socks for summer hiking, but these are very nice and breathable. No problems with sweaty feet while wearing them. They are well-constructed and have stood up to many miles of hiking so far. These will be all-year hiking socks for me!”

  • Available sizes: X-Small — Large
  • Available color combos: 6

Related: The best socks for hiking


The water-resistant hiking boots (in men’s sizes)

It goes without saying that you’ll need decent footwear on the trail, and the Columbia Newton Ridge hiking boots boast more than 17,000 perfect five-star ratings on Amazon. Constructed from waterproof leather with a breathable mesh lining, the boots have padded tongues for all-day comfort and a winter-grade tread pattern on the soles to ensure solid footing if you end up on icy or snowy surfaces. They’re lightweight with durable midsoles, generous cushioning, and a high energy return to reduce foot fatigue.

One reviewer wrote: “Went hiking in Zion National Park. It was unseasonably rainy, but these shoes kept my feet dry. We hiked quite a bit and my feet were comfortable. I also had no problem on the rocks. Overall, definitely worth it.”

  • Available sizes: men’s 7 — 17 (wide options available)
  • Available colors and styles: 19

Related: The best hiking boots under $100


The water-resistant hiking boots (in women’s sizes)

With a 4.7-star overall rating, these Columbia Newton Ridge hiking boots offer the same functionality as the men’s boots, but in women’s sizes and in a few different color options. Made from water-resistant leather and suede, they can withstand snow and rain, but the breathable mesh inner bootie keeps things cool when the temperatures rise. Winter-grade treads on the soles help keep feet from slipping on ice or snow, and the padded tongue enhances comfort while you walk and climb. Lightweight and cushioned, these boots provide plenty of energy return to support your feet throughout the day.

One reviewer wrote: “These shoes are phenomenal. [...] I hate buying any kind of shoe that has a "breaking in period". These were great from the get go. I tried them on a moderate 5 mile hike on a rugged Washington (state) trail. No blisters. I put them to the test today [...] on an 8 mile hike up a steep incline and holy cow. They were amazing.”

  • Available sizes: women’s 5 — 12 (wide options available)
  • Available colors and styles: 13

Related: The best vegan hiking boots


The wide-brim sun hat

Whether you’re hiking in rainy, sunny, or windy weather, this wide-brim hat will come in handy. Constructed from a water-repellent polyester material with breathable mesh side panels, the hat has a wide brim that helps protect your face and neck from the elements. Adjustable drawstring cords around the head and under the neck allow for a customized fit, so the hat won’t budge if the wind kicks up. When you aren’t wearing it, the hat can easily be folded and stored away in your backpack, without risk of damage from crumpling.

One reviewer wrote: “I bought this hat for a rim-to-rim Grand Canyon hike, it worked perfectly. It kept the sun off my face and neck and stayed on even in windy conditions. Even in 80 degree plus temperatures, my head did not feel overheated. When I didn't need it, it fit easily in my day pack. All that for a very reasonable price.

  • Available colors and styles: 23

Related: The best hiking hats


The UPF 50+ sun-protective shirt

The best hiking clothes can shield you from the sun, like this UV-protective long-sleeve shirt. Boasting a 4.7-star overall rating, this UPF 50+ shirt offers excellent protection from both UVA and UVB rays, and the polyester fabric wicks away moisture and sweat, keeping you dry while you move. The crew-neck shirt has a slightly relaxed fit and flat-lock seams that prevent chafing and discomfort. It comes in several different colors, from dark neutrals to high-visibility shades.

One reviewer wrote: “Great shirts! I ordered two of these for hiking around Death Valley. I just got back and couldn’t be happier. Very soft, comfortable, and seemingly durable material. Blocked the sun wonderfully. I was out all day [...] and no problems.”

  • Available sizes: Small — 3X-Large
  • Available colors: 17

Related: The best hiking shirts for hot weather


The water-repellent hiking pants (in men’s sizes)

Both water-repellent and windproof, these hiking pants are ideal for rainy and gusty conditions, and the flexible knee design gives you plenty of mobility on steep, rocky terrain. An elastic waist and buckle belt create a comfortable fit, while a grand total of five pockets provide space to store your small essentials. With a slim, lightweight fit, these stretchy, moisture-wicking pants will keep you protected from the elements without weighing you down.

One reviewer wrote: “Whomever designed these pants hit a home run. I’ve had lots of different pants like these throughout the years for fishing, hiking, etc, but none were as comfortable or had the awesome features like these. The most critical aspect for me is they have a slight stretch in all the places needed, especially at knees where bending stretches out and makes others saggy or loose. Really good elasticity at waist too with a nice belt.”

  • Available sizes: Small — XX-Large
  • Available colors: 10


The water-repellent hiking pants (in women’s sizes)

These water-repellent tactical hiking pants are quick-drying and abrasion-resistant, which means they’ll stand up to inclement weather as well as scrapes and scratches from rocks or brush. The lightweight, straight-leg pants feature a partial elastic waistband with belt loops for a comfortable fit, along with four-way stretch for lots of mobility. They have six zippered pockets, so you can keep small essentials like lip balm and a granola bar on hand.

One reviewer wrote: “LOVE these hiking pants! They were so comfortable while hiking and climbing. They kept me warm when it was cool but I never felt hot, even when I had to remove my jacket during the hike. [...] They are super stretchy and I love all the pockets. Would definitely recommend these pants for any hike!”

  • Available sizes: 2 — 16
  • Available colors: 7


The lightweight crossbody pack

If you’re wondering what to bring on a short hike, this crossbody backpack may be the answer, as it’s non-bulky but still gives you plenty of space for day hiking essentials. Made from durable nylon and polyester, it has a mesh backing for enhanced breathability, a pair of mesh side pockets that are designed to hold your water bottle and an umbrella, as well as several interior compartments for the rest of your supplies. The adjustable padded strap can be worn in the front or the back. Besides neutral gray and black, this pack is also available in high-visibility colors including orange and yellow.

One reviewer wrote: “Bought this for hiking while on vacation. Perfect for a 1-3 hour hike. [Lots] of little pockets and it can fit a light rain jacket and shirt on the inside. It was super comfortable and the straps didn’t dig in. Didn’t want a big day backpack for shorter hikes and this was perfect! Sturdy and zippers work well. Highly recommend!”

  • Available colors: 10


The anti-blister foot balm

Prevent blisters on your feet before they begin by applying this moisturizing balm from BodyGlide. Infused with vitamins A and C, the anti-blister balm softens dry skin and reduces chafing. Apricot and comfrey leaf essential oils are added to hydrate and soothe your feet. The plant-derived formula is allergy- and fragrance-free, and since it resists sweat and water, you may not have to reapply while on your hike.

One reviewer wrote: “This is excellent. Hiking a lot, I kept getting blisters on my toes. I was even wearing the proper ‘wicking’ socks. I found this stuff and figured it couldn’t hurt! It fixed my issue perfectly. The stick is very easy to apply to my toes and it seems like it’ll last for a long time. I even went on a 13 mile hike without reapplying and was blister free.”

Related: The best hiking sandals


The stainless steel water bottle

This isn’t your average water bottle — Extremus’ bottle is constructed from triple-insulated stainless steel that keeps your water cold for up to 24 hours (or hot beverages warm for up to 12). The wide-mouth cap makes refilling and cleaning a breeze, while the smaller drinking nozzle cap remains tethered to the top, so there’s no chance of you losing it. It comes with a paracord handle and carabiner, so you can sling it over your wrist or hook it to your backpack for hands-free carrying. The condensation-resistant bottle is available in solid colors and cool patterns, in 32-ounce and 40-ounce sizes. (Note that only the solid-colored bottles are dishwasher-safe.)

One reviewer wrote: “I really like this bottle. The color was nice and the bottle seems very sturdy. It's the perfect size to take on hikes. My previous bottle was nice but it turns out having a bigger capacity is more convienent when on longer hikes. I like having the buckle as it helps me secure it to my bag which prevents it from falling out of my side pockets when having to bend over.!”

  • Available sizes: 32 ounces, 40 ounces
  • Available colors and styles: 6


The collapsible water bottle

If you’re on the hunt for the best ultra-light backpacking gear, this collapsible water bottle fits the bill and takes up minimal space in your backpack when empty. The 25-ounce bottle is made from flexible silicone and can be rolled up and secured into a compact size with the attached strap. The wide screw-top cap is helpful for filling and cleaning, while the smaller nozzle has an attached flip cap for easy spout access. An ergonomic gripping sleeve and carrying strap give you the option to hold the bottle or clip it onto the outside of your bag. It’s shatterproof and dishwasher-safe.

One reviewer wrote: “Love these water bottles! We bought one for each member of our family as our extra personal water containers for our back country hike in the Tetons. These are durable, easy to clip to a belt or your bag. [...] They were easy to keep clean and the mouth was wide enough to be easily used with our UV water purifier. It was nice knowing we had collapsible water bottles that could handle boiling water, if needed.”

  • Available colors: 8

Related: The best collapsible water containers


The value pack of thermal blankets

Whether you’re on a multi-day hike or simply want to be prepared, this four-pack of emergency thermal blankets can ensure lots of warmth in the great outdoors. They’re made of a lightweight, waterproof, and heat-reflecting mylar-nylon material that helps retain body heat, and they can also be used as impromptu shelters or sleeping bags. Each blanket measures 6.8 feet by 5.3 feet and is small enough to store in its own compact drawstring pouch.

One reviewer wrote: “Well we hiked/camped 3 days in the Grand Canyon. My folks lost the cover on their tent so we used this as a foot print and tent cover for them. worked great in the rain. I'll be keeping one handy in my hiking bag. My mom was impressed and wanted to know where I [got] them. I gave her one just in case. I'll definitely buy again.”

Related: The best backpacking quilts


The compact first aid kit

Accidents happen, especially while hiking on rocky, muddy, or steep ground. This compact first aid kit contains 100 pieces, including a CPR mask, bandages, emergency blanket, tourniquet, scissors, tweezers, and more. Measuring just 7.5 by 5.2 inches, the compact size makes this kit ideal for carrying in your backpack, and the durable zip-up pouch keeps the contents protected from getting wet or dirty. While you’ll hopefully never have to use it, this first aid kit is a smart investment for novice and experienced hikers alike.

One reviewer wrote: “First off I'd like to say this fits perfect in the front pocket of my new hiking backpack. That made me so excited. Secondly, I took everything out to familiarize myself with all the products I received. This tiny package is jam packed and I am super impressed. Especially with the emergency blanket that was included.”


The trekking poles

Constructed from carbon fiber, these ultra-light hiking poles provide extra support while taking on slippery or rocky terrain. Although they weigh just 7.6 ounces apiece, they’re seriously effective in shock absorption and reducing impact on joints. Each pole has a full-length cork grip and a nonslip foam sleeve for easy handling, plus a padded cushion strap that you can sling around your wrist. The set includes a storage case and multiple attachments for different environments, so you can take on rocks, sand, ice, snow, and mud with confidence.

One reviewer wrote: “Loved these poles. I did 7-10 miles of hiking a day in Estes Park up in the Rockies. I hiked in rain and on all kinds of terrain from rocks to mud. I slipped many times and the poles held me and kept me from falling. [...] These poles never bent or loosened. They were lightweight and easy to hold. I love the cork grip on them. Worth every penny and then some.”


The fleece neck gaiter

When you’re hiking in cold or windy climates, this cozy fleece neck gaiter provides an extra layer of warmth and protection around your neck, nose, and mouth. It can be worn down around your neck like a scarf, or pulled up over your face for more coverage. There are plenty of neutral shades and high-visibility colors to pick from.

One reviewer wrote: “Very useful for our hike this past weekend. It is very long and just keeps the neck/face area warm. It did make me feel very hot once we were into the hike but I put it back on once I got cold again.”

  • Available colors: 19

Related: The best cooling neck gaiters


The polarized sunglasses

Sunglasses are a must for eye protection on hikes, but a polarized pair can also shield your eyes from glare, whether it’s coming off a body of water or a snowy mountain. These polarized sunglasses have mirror-coated filter lenses that protect your eyes from UVC, UVB, and UVA rays, and the lightweight plastic frames have vents on the arms, adding extra airflow to the sides of your head. Plus, the unique spring design and flexible lenses mean they’re virtually unbreakable.

There are several different-colored lenses available, each one designed for specific weather conditions. Hiking in a bright, sunny setting? Go for brown or black lenses. Meanwhile, if it’s an overcast day, wear a pair with yellow or amber lenses. (For more lens choice guidance, check out the product page.)

One reviewer wrote: “I wanted the sunglasses for driving mainly and playing golf and hiking occasionally. Quality is good and vision gets improved from the polarized feature, specially when looking to reflecting surfaces such as water or glass. My wife was so impressed about it (she did not have polarized lens) that bought a pair for herself. Totally recommended.”

  • Available colors: 19

Related: The best hiking sunglasses


The tactical flashlights

Made of water-resistant, military-grade aluminum, these compact tactical flashlights are so durable, they can even survive a 10-foot drop. The battery-powered lights are especially useful for hiking at night, and a dial on the body allows you to toggle between focused pinpoint-style light and wide, floodlight-style illumination. You get two in a pack, so you’ll have a backup flashlight in case you lose one. Plus, at just over 6 inches long, they’re small enough to fit in your backpack or pouch.

One reviewer wrote: “Ordered these for use while camping and hiking. They are bright and do the job nicely while hiking at night. The adjustments for the brightness are simple and work well. We used these while hiking to a campsite after dark and they did a great job. It's nice to have a reliable light when you are in an unfamiliar area.”


The solar-powered portable charger

The last thing you want to discover while hiking is a dead phone battery, but this solar-powered charger allows you to power up your smartphone from anywhere. Using the included clip, hook the power bank onto your backpack and let it convert the sun’s rays into energy. (You can also charge up the power bank at home by plugging it into an AC outlet before you head out.) Waterproof and dust-proof, the heavy-duty device is designed to withstand the elements. In addition to performing as a backup phone battery, this power bank also functions as a bright LED flashlight.

One reviewer wrote: “For people like me who love to get out and hike [...] this charger is essential for my hikes. On the weekends I love to get lost in the forest and listen to music, take photos and videos and text when I get a signal. Having this solar charger attached to my backpack lets me be anxiety free in worrying about my phone dying.”

  • Available colors: 4

Related: The best solar phone chargers


The durable rain poncho

Don’t get caught in a sudden downpour without a plan. This hooded rain poncho is made out of rip-resistant polyester and covered in PVC coating, so it’s completely waterproof. The extra-long design allows you to wear this poncho over your backpack, and side snaps create a more secure fit. When not in use, the poncho can be folded up and stored inside the compact drawstring pouch. It comes in neutral colors such as army green and gray, as well as bright, high-visibility shades like fluorescent green and bright orange. As an added bonus, this poncho even doubles as a blanket or makeshift sun shelter.

One reviewer wrote: “This is an amazing poncho. I’ve never been a poncho guy but I bought it for when I go camping and hiking. It’s incredibly lightweight and water resistant. I’ve had it for over a year and I’ve beaten it up and it’s still good as new. I used it as a tarp on one of my camping trips and a huge thunderstorm passed through the night.”

  • Available colors: 9

Related: The best rain ponchos for backpacking


The compact binoculars

Enhance your hiking experience by packing these compact binoculars in your bag — you never know when you might stumble upon wildlife or breathtaking scenery. They offer 12 times magnification, so you can get up close and personal with your surrounding. The lightweight plastic body is covered in a waterproof rubber outer layer for a secure grip. Weighing 7.2 ounces, the binoculars come with a strap, so you can keep them on your body at all times.

One reviewer wrote: “I purchased these to bird/wildlife watch. I use them at home and while hiking and kayaking. [...] I can get close enough to the animals to see and identify them. They are crystal clear, easy to focus and lightweight. I'm impressed how close I can see using these. Absolutely perfect for the price!”


The all-natural bug repellent

It’s inevitable — the more time you spend in nature, the more likely you’ll be to encounter bugs. To defend yourself, you’ll want a good insect repellent like this DEET-free, plant-based formula. Made with lemon eucalyptus oil, this spray provides up to six hours of mosquito protection and up to four hours of protection against certain types of ticks. Without any harsh chemicals or synthetic fragrances, this is a gentle option that still gets great reviews from users.

One reviewer wrote: “Keeps the mosquitos away as advertised. You might need to re- apply a little more when hiking in deep woods. Smell is OK. Strong..but that's because it WORKS. The price is right too!!!”


The lightweight hiking towel

Whether you soak it in some water to cool yourself down on a warm day, use it to dab away sweat on your forehead, or use it to dry off after a refreshing dip, this hiking towel is a great addition to your gear. Made from soft microfiber, the ultra-absorbent towel is quick-drying, lightweight, and packs down to a compact size. It comes in three sizes, so you can decide what works best for your needs, and the included mesh carrying bag only upgrades the convenience factor.

One reviewer wrote: “We purchased 2 sets of these for a recent hiking trip, and they exceeded our expectations. [...] The towels were very absorbent and quick to dry. In fact, after showering we wrung them out by hand and by the time we made the trek back to our camp, they had almost completely dried. They have a snap tab on the corner to make it easy to hang them almost anywhere to dry completely.”

  • Available sizes: 3
  • Available colors: 10


The travel-size sports sunscreen

Sun protection is all-important in the great outdoors, and these travel-size sunscreen tubes measure just under 5 inches long, making them small enough to stick in your pack or even in a deep pants pocket. The SPF-30 sunscreen provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection, and since it’s water-resistant, it’ll withstand sweat and won’t run into your eyes.

One reviewer wrote: “Perfect size for hiking and biking. I always like to keep these on hand, rather than take a large one on backpacking trips. Need to keep one in your daypack too!”

Related: The best biodegradable sunscreen


The windproof camping lighter

This USB-chargeable plasma lighter is a must for multi-day backpacking trips, but it’s also a good idea to keep it on hand in case of emergencies on shorter trips. With a durable silicone casing, the pocket-size lighter is windproof and waterproof, so you can start a campfire in any weather, and it lights up to 300 times before needing to be recharged. The best part — it’s earned a stellar 4.7-star overall rating on Amazon after 6,000 reviews.

One reviewer wrote: “Works great! We camp and hike a lot, and it has not failed us yet in any conditions. Nice to know that it will light first attempt in any condition. Compact and light for backpacks. Easy to charge. Battery is still working on first charge, so not sure yet of total battery life, but it’s worked through multiple camping trips on this first charge.”