LAST UPDATED: March 31, 2021

The Best Hiking Gear (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021

Best Choice Teton Sports Explorer Backpack Teton Sports Explorer Backpack
Best Value Vont ‘Spark’ LED Headlamps Vont ‘Spark’ LED Headlamps
Premium Pick VF Dongfang Survival Kit VF Dongfang Survival Kit

Hiking is a popular way to reconnect with nature and exercise. As long as you’ve got the right hiking gear, it’s a safe activity too. Whether you’re new to hitting the trails or are looking to expand your horizons, there are some basic supplies every hiker needs. Some of them are a matter of life’s necessities — think food, water, and warmth. Others are a matter of emergency prep — like the ability to build a makeshift shelter in a storm, start a fire, or staunch a wound. The trails are full of the unpredictable, and the key to being ready for anything is coming prepared. The trick is to avoid excessive weight and bulky packs while keeping all the necessities on your person. It’s all about identifying the most important supplies and eliminating any dead weight. To assist, we’ve compiled a list of the best hiking gear on the market. Equipped with these essentials, you can hit the trails with the peace of mind that only comes when you are fully prepared. 

The Best Hiking Gear

Every hiker needs a bag to support all of their gear, keeping it protected from the elements. That’s what makes the Teton Sports Explorer such a useful piece of equipment overall. For starters, it can hold up to 65 liters of contents. It has a massive main component with several side pockets that zipper shut. Paired with the internal frame, it lets you haul around all your gear without placing strain on your back. The canvas material is resistant to moisture yet breathes well, making this a well-suited bag for long hikes. If you use all of the storage opportunities properly, the height of the bag can facilitate balance while keeping all your supplies close.

One thing to note is that the backpack material is not fully waterproof. Though you aren’t likely to hike in the rain, put your essentials in a waterproof bag to prevent water from getting to them.

 

Key Features
  • Large backpack with a frame
  • Holds 65 liters of content
  • Adjustable torso strap
  • Multiple front and side pockets
Specification
  • Brand TETON
  • Model B002XF8106
  • Weight 5.1 pounds
PROS

Water-resistant design

Bag has a supportive base

Cushioned shoulder straps

CONS

Not entirely waterproof

Moderately bulky structure

Gets heavy when full

Though most hikers cover ground during the day, it’s always better to have an extra light source on hand. The two-pack of Vont ‘Spark’ LED Headlamps gives you access to a flashlight without restricting the use of your hands. Running on six AAA batteries, these headlamps can work for up to 90 hours. It’s entirely waterproof and touts seven light settings. By directing the light at a 45-degree angle, you don’t have to screen your neck uncomfortably to see clearly. The dim light works well in foggy settings while the SOS and strobe features help you signal for help in an emergency. With a comfortable (and adjustable) strap, it fits onto most head sizes. Plus, with its affordable price point, it’s a piece of gear from which any hiking setup can benefit.

One thing to note is that the headlamps only take replaceable batteries, with no backup power source. It’s best to keep a few spare batteries with your gear just in case it runs out of juice.

Key Features
  • Set of two LED headlamps
  • Powered by replaceable batteries
  • Seven lighting modes
  • Works for up to 90 hours
Specification
  • Brand Vont
  • Model VNT-SHL01
  • Weight 7 ounces
PROS

Adjustable head strap 

Lights at a useful angle (45 degrees)

Is entirely waterproof

CONS

No rechargeable battery option

Brightest setting drains power

Vulnerable to battery acid

If you want to optimize the amount of gear you have on hand while minimizing the space it takes, consider the VF Dongfang Survival Kit. It comes with a dozen components, each designed to promote survival in an emergency. The emergency survival bracelet (made out of a cord you can use as rope) incorporates a compass, whistle, and fire starter. With a reasonably sized folding survival knife, you get both a serrated blade for sawing and a bottle opener. The set also has a pen that doubles as a glass break, a compass, and an emergency blanket. All the parts come encased in a waterproof, sturdy container that is both lightweight and compact. This set gives you access to everything you need to survive an unpredictable situation.

Keep in mind that if you use some parts of this kit once, you will need to replenish them. Check that your fire starter and emergency blanket are intact and functional before every hiking trip.

 

Key Features
  • Comes with a rigid case
  • Includes a dozen pieces of gear
  • Waterproof container and supplies
  • Compact and lightweight
Specification
  • Brand VF Dongfang
  • Model B083Q6B3M8
  • Weight 1.35 pounds
PROS

Rust- and corrosion-resistant

Has orientation, fishing, and communication gear

Package designed to protect contents

CONS

Vulnerable to impact damage

Lacks medical supplies

Limited fire-starting gear

If you like to camp when you hike, but prefer a minimalist approach, then Timok Emergency Sleeping Bags are worth adding to your gear. The set comes with two bags, each bag expanding to support an adult. They are made out of high-density mylar, a reflective material that offers sufficient insulation. The bags can be used either as an emergency blanket or in the place of a standard sleeping bag if the weather conditions accommodate. Entirely waterproof and highly durable, these bags fold down into a compact bag, taking up next to no room in your backpack. Built to be reusable, these sleeping bags are versatile enough to double as an emergency shelter. You can get the bags in multiple colors, letting you improve your visibility based on the wilderness settings you plan to explore.

It warrants a mention that, though the bags are fairly durable, it’s important to avoid punctures. While you can repair them with duct tape over the short term, if the fabric breaks, you’ll need to replace it.

 

Key Features
  • Comes in a set of two
  • Small enough to fit in your hands
  • Made of reflective material
  • Seven by four feet
Specification
  • Brand Timok
  • Model B08LN6YNBY
  • Weight 4.2 ounces
PROS

Insulated to keep you warm

Includes emergency whistle

Waterproof sleeping bags

CONS

Can be tricky to repackage

Wears down after cleaning

Works best for adult users

Hiking is always safer when you have access to communication devices. Nowadays, your phone can double as a GPS, a flashlight, and a survival manual — but only if it holds a charge. The BigBlue Portable Solar Charger is a great way to retain access to power, even if only in case of emergency. Folding down to a compact size, you can tuck it in with the rest of your gear. The fabric at the back protects it from damage and it’s lightweight enough for any hiker. Coming with three USB ports, you simply open it in a sunny area while you’re in between hiking spurts. With an efficiency rating of up to 23.5 percent, you can quickly get the juice back into your phone, USB flashlight, or anything else that requires electricity. Durable and reliable, this is a fantastic piece of gear for the modern hiker.

It warrants a mention that, while this solar setup works quickly, it doesn’t have a power bank. You’ll need to charge your tech while it is directly exposed to the sun for the charger to work.

 

Key Features
  • Consists of five solar panels
  • Includes three USB ports
  • Runs at 21.5 to 23.5 percent efficiency
  • Includes USB cable
Specification
  • Brand BigBlue
  • Model B401
  • Weight 1.3 pounds
PROS

Compact and foldable

Compatible with Apple and Android

Energy-efficient solar panels

CONS

Susceptible to scratches

Vulnerable to impact

Doesn’t have a power bank

Essential to hiking safely, a proper pair of boots keep your feet warm and secure. The Columbia Newton Ridge Hiking Shoe exceeds these standards with a quality design and durable materials. Rising slightly above the ankle, these brown leather boots keep your legs and feet protected from the elements. By including suede, they offer the added benefits of insulation and support. All parts of the interior of the shoes are cushioned for support and to retain heat in cold environments. Despite keeping your feet warm, these boots are well-ventilated, helping your feet stay comfortable during long hikes. Paired with a prominent arch and rubber base that facilitates traction, these hiking shoes are made to make hiking more enjoyable.

Bear in mind that these boots are made for women’s feet, and are sized accordingly. The male counterpart to these shoes is the Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Hiking Boots.

 

Key Features
  • Textured rubber soles
  • Prominent arch support
  • Built for use while hiking
  • Strong, well-attached laces
Specification
  • Brand Columbia
  • Model 1718821
  • Weight 2.25 pounds
PROS

Includes ankle protection

Entirely waterproof boots

Material breathes well

 

CONS

Lacks protection for toes

Tread wears down with time

Not much insulation

 

It’s no secret that to be healthy and safe, drinking water is a must. The convenient size and structure of the Nalgene Tritan Water Bottle make it an excellent way to stay hydrated while you hit the trails. It can hold up to 32 ounces of fluid, whether hot or cold. The sides come marked with volume indicators (in both metric and imperial), so you can track how much you drink. Made out of thick polypropylene, the material is safe for food handling and durable enough to let it survive the great outdoors. It closes with a large-cap, screwing into place firmly to prevent the risk of leaks. The broad opening lets it fill up quickly and also makes cleaning the bottle that much easier. Durable, safe, and long-lasting, this water bottle is an ideal hiking companion.

One thing to keep in mind is that, while dishwasher-friendly, you need to place this bottle on the top rack to prevent it from warping due to heat. So long as you do that, it’s really easy to clean and should last for a long time.

Key Features
  • Large twist-on lid
  • Supports 32 ounces of fluid
  • Can handle hot and cold liquids
  • Designed to prevent leaks
Specification
  • Brand Liberty Mountain Sports LLC
  • Model B08H5TYCK2
  • Weight 2 pounds (when full)
PROS

Entirely free of BPAs

Supports full day’s worth of water

Plastic doesn’t leave odor or flavor

CONS

Vulnerable to cracking

Doesn’t keep drinks cold

Very broad drinking opening

Best Hiking Gear Buying Guide & FAQ

Every hiker is different. Mountain trails aren’t the same as hiking through the prairies, and the supplies required might be slightly different. The first thing is to figure out what kind of environment you’re going to be facing. Is it humid? Muddy? Rocky? Somewhere in between? Everything from your clothing to shoes to backpack will depend on the elements, so keep this at the forefront of your mind when you make your picks. 

From there, it’s about making sure all your needs are accommodated. Consider what you can carry in terms of weight and size and find ways to optimize your use of space. So long as your supplies account for emergency shelter, fire, water, food, communication, and medical emergencies, your bases should be covered. It’s a matter of finding a quality backpack and filling it with reliable gear to make your hike that much more enjoyable. 

Benefits of Hiking Gear

There’s no limit to the advantages of bringing along properly-suited hiking gear. When you’re properly equipped, any situation is surmountable. With the correct supplies, your hike goes from a survival experience to a fun activity. The good news is that, with the continued popularity of hiking, there is no shortage of options (it’s just a matter of picking the best ones). 

Hiker in Mountains
The best hiking gear features supplies that help you survive diverse weather situations.

When you pack properly, you can fit everything you need to hike comfortably for days at a time. The key is picking things that have more than one purpose. Emergency blankets double as shelters. A flashlight can double as an SOS. Survival kits include fire starters, knives, and fishing line. Making the most of your space and reducing the weight you carry by picking good hiking gear can keep your energy and spirits high. The benefits don’t stop there, though. 

  • Hiking gear includes sustenance like food and water. 
  • Modern gear lets you retain access to electricity. 
  • A quality hiking backpack prevents soreness and fosters balance.
  • Being equipped keeps you prepared in the event of an emergency. 
  • Hiking gear includes supplies to survive diverse weather situations. 

The Most Common Types of Hiking Gear

Hiking gear is a pretty broad category, including everything from life’s necessities to the clothes on your back. The key is to identify the essentials and eliminate whatever is just taking up space. The best way to do this is to look at the different types of hiking gear and make sure that they are represented. 

Clothing

Your hike starts long before you hit the trails. It begins when you get dressed and prepared for the hike. Now, the ideal clothing will depend largely on where you’re hiking and the elements you’re contending with. A good rule of thumb is light layers. Protect your skin with long sleeves and pants, so bug bites and sunburn aren’t an issue. 

Pair these with waterproof hiking boots that protect your feet and ankles. Hiking boots should be lightweight enough to stop you from getting bogged down. However, they still need to be sturdy. Look for footwear with traction at the base so that you can navigate the trails without slipping. 

Survival

Most of your hiking gear falls in this category. It includes everything from your emergency medical kit to bug spray and sunscreen. If you are newer to the field of hiking, a great place to start is with a premade survival kit. These include essentials like fire starters, compasses, emergency blankets, a flashlight, and tactical knives. 

Beyond this, hiking gear in this area includes things like water, food, and shelter. Your gear should include an emergency blanket and rope to convert it into a shelter in a pinch. Other essentials are a water bottle, food supplies, and tools to hunt, trap, or forage in the area you’re exploring. Be sure that, if you needed to, you could survive on your hiking gear for three days.

Convenience

Convenience starts with the container for your hiking gear, and that means a good backpack. It should resist moisture, breathe well, and be designed to keep the weight from causing back strain. Many hikers prefer the convenience of a backpack with a frame for support. A good bag lets you carry everything you need while keeping your supplies organized and protected. 

While backpacks are the ultimate convenience, it doesn’t stop there. Other gear in this category include portable chargers (so you can check your phone), mobile GPS units, and things like birding guides, and cushioned sleeping bags. Though you can probably hike without these, it’s a lot more enjoyable to have them around. 

What to Consider When Buying Hiking Gear

There are a few important things to consider when packing for your trip. If you’re heading out in your vehicle, consider opting for some car camping gear in case you need to stay overnight. The key is to think about what is most practical to keep on your person and only bring those things. This avoids bulk and prevents you from wasting energy. 

Supplemental gear like a hiking tripod can stay in your trunk for when you’re in between trails. Especially for longer hikes, it’s important to identify what to put in your backpack. If you want to camp by your motorcycle after a day hiking, there are probably some things you can leave by your bike.

The key is to avoid doubling up. Consider the bulk of the supplies. It might sound novel to bring the sleeping pad with you, but when it’s getting caught on branches, you’ll wish it was still in the trunk. As long as you’re honest with yourself about what you’ll need out on the trails and plan, you should be just fine. 

Young people hiking in mountains
With the correct supplies, your hike goes from a survival experience to a fun activity.

Best Hiking Gear FAQs:

Having some questions about hiking gear is only natural, even for an experienced outdoorsman. By keeping tabs on new gear, you can find ways to cut down on the weight you’re carrying and make your hike more exciting. A lot of hiking gear doubles up with RV accessories and other camping gear. The difference is that hiking gear is built to optimize portability. 

Q: What are the essential gears in hiking?

Necessary hiking gear includes a backpack, survival kit, bug spray, sunscreen, proper clothes, and the food and water you need.

Q: What are the 10 essentials for hiking?

If you have sunscreen, bug spray, a knife, an SOS beacon, first aid, a map, a compass, a knife, a fire starter, and a shelter, you have the basics covered.

Q: What should you not wear while hiking?

Avoid jeans, weak shoes, short sleeves, and any material that is too thick or won’t breathe well. Stick to light layers with good coverage. 

Q: Why is hiking gear so expensive?

You can get a lot of gear at affordable prices. Multi-use items like backpacks and boots tend to have a heftier price tag simply because of the extra value they offer.

Our Top Pick

After carefully analyzing the best hiking gear around, we’ve named the Teton Sports Explorer Backpack as our top choice. Not only is this bag durable, but it is also able to hold over 60 liters of contents. The backpack has an internal frame to spread out the weight and keep the hiker comfortable. Built to keep all your gear organized and protected, this backpack is a must-have for serious hiking enthusiasts. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you know all about picking out the best hiking gear for your next trip, you can be prepared for anything. Store your supplies in the Teton Sports Explorer Backpack. Save money and see clearly with Vont ‘Spark’ LED Headlamps, our value pick. There’s the perfect gear out there for every set of trails. Happy hiking!

Sources:

  1. Hiking Equipment – Wikipedia