Everyday Carry

Hit the Trail with These 6 Hiking Essentials

Chris Szaroleta
Hit the Trail with These 6 Hiking Essentials

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Editor’s Note: Chris Szaroleta is one of our community’s most active members. He’s a corporate trainer by profession, but a gear enthusiast and lover of the outdoors at heart. After seeing his well-built hiking carry and his contributions to our forum topic on hiking, we asked Chris to school us on hiking safely and efficiently. Here's part 1 of his Carry Smarter primer on hiking and enjoying the outdoors.

You're undoubtedly aware that consistent physical activity will result in positive health benefits abound. Stress relief, mental acuity, calorie burning and stamina building are only a few examples. However, combining exercise with EDC culture can sometimes be problematic — you won't find too many guys at the gym pumping iron with a flashlight in their pocket or a multi-tool on their hip. Luckily, there's a simple solution to this EDCer conundrum... go for a hike! Hiking combines the highest degree of the previously mentioned health benefits, along with the need to carry gear. Truly, it's a win-win for those of us who want to stay in shape and have our essentials with us.

There's no shortage of reference material to assist in building your understanding of nature's complexities. And while there's absolutely no substitute for a good, working knowledge of outdoor skills, it'll be to your benefit to keep certain items with and on you. This first installment of this three-part series focuses specifically on day hiking (in warm to moderate to moderate climates) and the bare-bones essentials you'll need to get started on your first jaunt into the woods.

A Quick Note on Clothing…

We won't begin from the ground up with detailed information about apparel or footwear. Those are important elements to consider when hiking, but clothing and boots have more to do with personal preference. In general, try to find comfortable attire with moisture wicking properties and boots that fit well, provide ankle support, have substantial tread and water proofing or resistance. Now let’s get into some essential EDC items for shorter hikes.

Backpack & Hydration

Osprey Packs Talon 33 Backpack

For a day hike, you'll want something durable, lightweight and formed to fit many body styles. Enough room for your gear, some minor organization and an internal sleeve for your hydration bladder will suffice. To accommodate these features, look to the Osprey Packs Talon 33 Backpack. 33L is ample for day hike needs, but can be a functional multi-day option with an intelligently packed, minimalist approach. Osprey also provides one of the best warranties in the industry.

BUY ($130)

Platypus Hoser Hydration System

As for hydration, ease of use and quality control reign supreme. Check out the Platypus Hoser Hydration System. This 2L option will fit snugly in the hydration sleeve of your pack, and will provide you with plenty of water for a quick out and back trip.

BUY ($20)

First Aid

Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight & Watertight Kit

Scrape a knee, cut a finger or get a blister and you'll be happy you were prepared. Adventure Medical Kits makes various first aid necessities to assist the casual and advanced hiker when injuries occur. To keep it light and simple, try out the Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight & Watertight .9 Kit.

BUY ($30)


Leatherman Wave

Having nearly limitless functionality to assist in completing common tasks, a good multi-tool is an invaluable resource to have in your day-to-day, let alone, in the woods. Grab a Leatherman Wave for one of the most feature packed multi-tools available.

BUY ($80)


Black Diamond Storm Headlamp

It's easy to lose track of time when hiking. If darkness begins descending and you still have a bit of a trek back to your car, you'll want a light to guide your way. Your eyes go where your head goes, so stay hands-free with a headlamp to illuminate the trail. Check out the Black Diamond Storm Headlamp for bonus features at a great price.

BUY ($39)


Casio SGW100-1V

To help avoid letting time slip away, wear a rugged, multi-functional watch built to withstand the elements. Slap the budget-friendly Casio SGW100-1V on your wrist to aid in navigating if you get off trail and to check for an accurate air temperature reading.

BUY ($41)

Editor’s Note: By now, you’re equipped with the bare-bones knowledge to hit the trails for a short dayhike. Stay tuned for part two, where we'll examine emergency preparedness and survival gear. Do you hike often, or want to get started? We hope this guide was useful! Let us know in the comments below.

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Discussion (12 total)

Joel Lockridge ·
Well done! I'm ready to get back to the trails around here. Time to reevaluate my carry items!
Stephen Wilkinson ·
Like the first part, looking forward to the next two.
Good article, Chris.
Nicely done Chris
Great article Chris! I'll have to start planning my next trip to the Mournes.
Nicely written. I've been thinking about upgrading to platypus but have been toying with the idea of a pressurized bladder for a little more versatility.
Griffen Kociela ·
Awesome article Chris! I'm looking forward to the next one.
Chris Szaroleta ·
Thanks, Griffen!
Mikey Bautista ·
Good job, Chris!
Chris Szaroleta ·
Much appreciated, Mikey!
Jon ·
This is a really great starting point for new hikers trying to gear up for some more serious hikes, or even an experienced one looking to gear up - all good quality, functional choices. Without adding a lot more weight/cost, I would recommend just a few more things around outdoor emergency preparedness - even for the new hiker on short hikes: good quality firestarter (or at least case with waterproof / wind/proof matches), a thermal foil blanket, a water filter (or at minimum a few purification tablets), and some sort of food ration like granola bars. The challenge is always balancing weight with utility, but I personally like to error on the side of caution.
Scott Johnson ·
The Leatherman Wave isn't what it used to be. I had to oil mine 6 times just to get the scissors and other blades to deploy. The knives, saw and file are butter smooth but the smaller tools were a bear to open. Never had this problem with my old Wave. Around the city I'll use the newer Wave but in the woods when it really counts I'll be taking my old Wave.