You probably have a few essentials you pack before any hike, like water, snacks and maybe a few extra items of clothing. While these are all handy, any hike has the potential to turn into an emergency situation, no matter how short or easy it may seem. Here are a few items you’ll want to stash in your bag before your next expedition.

First Aid Kit

Female hiker aiding another injured female hiker
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This might seem like a given, but it can’t help to be reminded. From minor cuts and scrapes to more serious injuries, it’s always good to have at least one first aid kit on hand. These can be found for as little as $10 and include items like bandages, antiseptics, adhesive tape and often a whistle to help people find you if you’re stuck or trapped. Depending on the kit, you might even find some of the other items on this list included.

Flashlight or Headlamp

Hiker with a head lamp under the night sky
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You may be leaving for a short hike in the morning, but it’s still a good idea to have a flashlight or headlamp in your pack. Ideally, you’ll have some spare batteries, but if you don’t carry them, you’ll at least want to make sure your light has fresh batteries before you head out. Whether daylight runs out or you just want to look inside of a cave you stumble upon, you’ll be glad to have the light when you need it.

Waterproof Matches

Summer Campfire and Lake at sunset

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While a flashlight can bring you light, you’ll want to have a source of heat as well. The matches won’t handle this by themselves, but they do make it much easier to start a fire. If the temperature drops unexpectedly or you just need to dry out some clothing, you’ll want to have a reliable way to get a fire started, and the waterproofing means you don’t have to worry if you need to wade through a stream to get to where you’re going.

Water Treatment

Hiker filling water bottle from stream on mountain trail, Dolomites, Italy
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You might think you’ve got enough water in your pack, but things happen. Whether you end up stuck or you just drop your bottle on the ground, spilling its contents, you might find you need more water than you brought with you. There are plenty of options to choose from. Water purifiers can give you water that tastes as good as bottled water from a store, but they can be expensive. If you’re just looking for something to keep in your pack for worst-case scenarios, you can get water treatment tablets for under $10. Or find a waterbottle that will do it all for you.

Duct Tape

Duct Tape Shoe Repair
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It’s fairly likely that you’re already aware of the awesome powers of a simple roll of duct tape, and this is exactly why it belongs in your backpack. It can be used to repair clothing in a pinch and even help you build a makeshift shelter, among other things, but it doesn’t end there. If you’re not careful, you can easily develop blisters while hiking, and covering these with duct tape can at least help you make your way back to the trailhead.


Exhausted sportswoman
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You might be in great shape, but that might not apply to everyone in your hiking party or those you might meet on the trail. If you happen across someone who might be having a heart attack, that aspirin could be a literal lifesaver for them. On the other hand, it’s also handy if you or someone else gets a minor headache.

Allergy Medication

man in field sneezing
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Similar to aspirin, allergy medication is a good thing to carry whether you have allergies or not. While it’s not as powerful as something like an EpiPen, an antihistamine like Benadryl is easy to carry in your pack, and if you run across someone who has been stung by a bee, it can be a huge help to them. Considering it’s so small and easy to carry, why wouldn’t you?