Hiking Tips - What to Bring on Your Vacation Hike

hiking vacation rental

Whether you're hiking for the first time or you're an experienced pro, you'll still need to double-check your gear before heading out, so we've compiled a helpful list along with some tips you might appreciate. Ranging from the obvious to the lesser-known, this list gives you an idea what you need (or what you'll be happy to have!) on the trail.

Bear in mind that you'll want to strike the right balance between preparedness and weight. If you're taking a day trip, you can get away with packing light, but you don't want to be stuck in an emergency without adequate supplies. Before you decide what to bring, carefully consider whether you'll be on a well-worn trail or forging your own, taking a day trip or setting off on a week-long expedition, and sticking to temperate climates or dealing with rain, intense sun, or elevation. Every trail brings specific concerns, and thinking about those concerns now means not having to worry about them later.

Clothing and Protection:

  • Long, warm underwear! Don't wear cotton, since cotton retains your sweat moisture and therefore keeps you colder, not warmer. Try polypropylene to wick away sweat and keep you dry.
  • You can wear shorts for day hikes (especially on well-worn trails), but you might want to invest in longer pants if you're going out in wet weather, places with bugs, or places with scratchy undergrowth.
  • Wear two pairs of socks. Nylon undersocks will keep the thick hiking socks from giving you blisters. Be prepared to change out your undersocks partway through a longer hike, and if you'll be out for more than a day or two, make sure you have plenty of socks. Dry socks keep your feet comfortable and prevent blisters.
  • Dress in layers! A warm fleece layer and then a protective water-proof layer keep you protected from most weather. You should also bring a heavy-duty rainproof outer layer if you're going for a hike of any length.
  • Bring a hat with a brim to keep the light out of your eyes and the sun off of your face. If you're going to be in the cold, opt for a warm hat - most of the body heat you lose in winter escapes from your head. For convenience's sake, you might want to wear two hats, a warm inner layer and a waterproof, sun-blocking outer layer.
  • Wear plenty of sunscreen and bring more to reapply, even if it's cloudy. Wear it especially if you're going to be at high altitudes where the sun is strongest. Bring a pair of sunglasses, too.
  • Consider your footwear. If you're hiking on a trail, you can get away with lighter shoes because you won't need as much protection from rocks and therefore the added weight of heavy shoes won't be worth it. Lighter footwear can also help prevent unnecessary blisters. If you are hiking off-trail, heavy shoes might be the best option to protect your feet from irregular terrain. Whatever shoes you wear, make sure you've worn them before so you know what to expect and that they're comfortable. Never wear new shoes for the first time on a long hike.


  • Multi-tool - More versatile than a pocketknife, a multi-tool is a necessity, though a pocketknife will do in a pinch, especially on shorter treks.
  • First aid kit - You never know what might happen, and it's always best to be prepared, You can buy pre-made first aid kits specifically for hiking.
  • Hiking/trekking pole - Not a necessity but very helpful anyway, a good pole takes some of the load off your feet and your muscles, and it helps your balance and your stability. Modern poles are retractable so they're really easy and convenient; you can keep a telescoping pole in your pack when you're not using it. Consider getting a pair of poles to keep you even more balanced.
  • Flashlight - Even if you're just taking a day trip, be prepared to be stuck in the dark just in case something goes wrong.
  • Compass - Not as essential on a well-worn path, a compass is still one of your best tools against getting lost. If you have a GPS system, you'll have even less to worry about. Remember, err on the side of caution.
  • A good day pack/heavy-duty backpack - Depending on how long you'll be out, you'll need a pack that can accommodate everything you bring along comfortably without weighing you down. You have a wide range of options, so take the time to find the best one for you. Just make sure it has plenty of pockets, including a few that can be easily accessed for your essentials and emergency tools.


Always bring more food than you think you'll need. Hiking is strenuous work, and you never know when an emergency will delay you. Lean toward calorie-heavy food like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. While fruit is a great choice, be careful not to eat too much or the fiber may disrupt your digestion. Likewise, nuts are hard to digest on more active, difficult treks, so be prepared with sports bars and other easily digestible foods for these hiking trips. On day trips and lighter trails, trail mix is always a good fall-back.

hiking tips vacationWater:

Water is your heaviest but also your most essential supply. You absolutely must be sure that you have enough water to get through your hike. Bring plenty, but research your trail. It's good to know ahead of time whether you'll be encountering bodies of water along the route, because if you are prepared and pack a filter, you can plan accordingly and save yourself some weight by bringing less water with you. Also, some packs have water bladders built inside, a good (and convenient) idea for longer treks. Otherwise, keep plenty of water easily available in the outer pockets of your pack.

After a good long hike, you'll need to relax and recuperate from all that hard work. Take a break in the cozy comfort of a vacation rental, whether you're staying in a mountainside rental cabin or a quaint cottage by the lake – or, if you're ready for a big change of pace, leave the wild behind and go urban in a downtown vacation condo rental. Vacation rentals are especially comfortable and affordable compared to hotel rooms, and they'll give you plenty of space to unload your gear and stick your aching feet up in the comfort of home.

Check out our list of top hiking destinations, then reserve a Lake Tahoe rental cabin or Arizona rental home and set off on the adventure of a lifetime!


Armed with these hiking tips, you're ready to take on Vacation Rentals.com's Top Hiking Destinations!