Hiking Emergency Items

Worth Taking

on Every Hike

Some hiking emergency items are worth taking, just in case.

You might plan for an uneventful day hike, but in nature, anything can happen. Humans really control nothing in nature, either. It’s rugged and unforgiving at times.

When accidents or the worst event occur, it’s good to be prepared.

If you’re going to have any hiking emergency items with you, at least consider taking some or all the items listed below.

Hiking Emergency Items 1: Water Filter

Bring a water filter.

Even if you think you have enough water, stuff can happen, and you might run out of water sooner than you think. You might get lost, and all the rolling hills can make you consume all your water.

A water filter will keep you safe.

I use a Sawyer Mini, but other great brands are also out there.

Please use your filter before you take it with you on a hike. This way, you know how to use it, and you know it works.


Emergency Item 2: Emergency Layers

These hiking emergency items are really important in the winter.

Emergency layers are great items to always take with you. In the event that your clothing gets wet and it’s freezing cold, emergency layers can save your life.

My hack for this is putting a pair of insulated running tights, an insulated running shirt, and wool socks in a Ziploc bag and storing it in my backpack. They’re extremely lightweight, and because runners wear them outside and alone, they’ll easily keep you warm and dry in an emergency situation.

The last thing you want to suffer is hypothermia in the backcountry.

Hiking Emergency Items

Hiking Emergency Item 3: Rain Poncho

Get the big rain poncho that covers your whole body and backpack.

This isn’t just a good item to have when you need a rain suit. It can double as an emergency shelter if you have to stay in the forest for the night and need shelter over you.

The poncho is lightweight and packable enough that you’ll never notice it’s there.

But if you ever need it, you can rest assured that it is there for you.


Emergency Item 4: Plastic Grocery Bags

Plastic grocery bags make great hiking emergency items.

The main reason is protection from moisture during extremely cold weather.

Let’s say you slip crossing a creek, and water gets into your boots. You have emergency layers to change socks, but now your boots are soaking wet, and you don’t want to get your dry socks wet.

So, what do you do?

You take the plastic grocery bags and put them over your socks when you put your feet back in your shoes. They will keep your socks and feet dry from the wet shoes. I’ve used this one a lot!


Hiking Emergency Items 5: Whistle

Bring a whistle with you.

Sometimes the chest/sternum strap on your backpack has them built into it but always bring another whistle just in case.

If you fall and cannot hike back out, or you’re lost and can’t find your way back, you need to call for help.

Screaming and yelling can wear you down and make you fatigued. Blowing on a whistle takes less energy than screaming and yelling.

A whistle might save your life.


And those are the five hiking emergency items I recommend taking on every hike. Most of them can slide into your backpack, and you’ll never even realize they’re there. But when you need them the most, they’ll be there at your disposal. Stay safe out there this hiking season. And if you’ve enjoyed this article and would like more hiking tips, subscribe to my newsletter for more information.

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Shawn Gossman

Shawn Gossman

Founder, Hiking with Shawn

Howdy folks! My name is Shawn Gossman and I founded Hiking with Shawn. I’m an avid hiker, cyclist and outdoorsman here in the Shawnee National Forest. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and never want to leave. Click here to learn more about Shawn Gossman

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