10 Most Important

Hiking Gear Items

to take to the

Shawnee National Forest

Are you carrying the most important hiking gear items that you should be?

The Shawnee National Forest is a small forest consisting of just shy of 280,000 acres spread across the southern portion of Illinois. But for such a small forest, there are a lot of dense woods covered in ridgelines and rolling hills. While a small forest might be seen as a leisurely walk in the park, locals and visitors know that Shawnee National Forest is vast and dense and can make for some gut-busting hikes.

Not carrying the most important hiking gear can make or break your trip in the Shawnee, and I wanted to write this article to help make sure your trip is the best trip it can be – and that starts with your hiking gear!


Most Important Hiking Gear: Clothing & Footwear

Your clothing and footwear are a part of the most important hiking gear to wear and even take with you during your trip to the Shawnee National Forest.

  1. Headwear – Proper headwear is a vital gear to take with you pending the season. During the cold months, a good sock cap will help give heat to your head which often elevates the heat to your body. You may choose a hat to help protect you from the sun or keep sweat off your face in the summer months.
  2. Clothing – Make sure you wear appropriate clothing for the hiking season. In the winter months, it can get pretty cold during the morning and warm up through the day – this is where layering comes into play. You layer up, intending to take layers off to cool down as the temperature warms up. During the summer months, shorts are a great option but know that you might run into tall undergrowth usually infested with ticks. Thoroughly check yourself after every hike to ensure you don’t have ticks.
  3. Footwear – Your shoes and socks are one of the most important pieces of hiking gear. I tell people to make their hiking boots their most expensive gear item. You have to protect your feet as a hiker; they’re your number one tool. Comfortable and sturdy boots or shoes is a must. If it is winter, make sure you’re wearing good warm socks (I like alpaca socks), and always bring a spare pair of socks in case yours get wet, or you need more foot layering for those colder days.


Most Important Hiking Gear: Hydration & Fuel

Keeping your body hydrated and fueled when hiking in the Shawnee National Forest is critical to preventing significant injury.

  1. Hydration – Make sure you bring plenty of water and other hydration fluids when hiking in the Shawnee National Forest. Our forest is rolling hills, often muddy, and with longer trails. It isn’t hard to get on the wrong trail in some areas. The extra effort will leave you thirsty – make sure you have plenty of hydration to ensure safety during your trip.
  2. Fuel – Hydration is essential, but so is fuel. Bring some snacks with you to help keep you fueled during your hike. Often, I try to bring mixed nuts and a hearty trail bar. It is vital to put carbs back in you to have something to burn as you continue your hike. Believe it or not, hiking is very much a form of fitness, and you must make sure you hydrate and fuel for your fitness needs.
  3. Filter – A good water filter that you know how to use is a must-have item to take with you on longer hikers away from the easy trails. If you run out of water for some reason, a filter can be a lifesaver. Just know how to use the filter and test it out before hiking.


Most Important Hiking Gear: Navigation & Light

Navigation and light are other types of hiking gear that you need to bring with you when adventuring through the Shawnee National Forest for those “what if” moments.

  1. Map and Compass – It is easy to quit bringing a map and compass with all the apps. However, when those apps fail to work, not having a map and compass is often very regrettable. Learn how to use a map and compass and pack them with you just in case. Technology fails. Technology dies. Protect yourself from that common failure by having traditional means of navigation and knowing how to use them.
  2. Apps – Even though a map and compass are essential, using a good app for navigation can help you out. Most apps require paid versions for you to use without cell phone service – keep that in mind. If you use an app, go for a topo map version. Make sure you learn how to read topo maps, contour lines, etc. Knowing these things will make hiking a lot easier.
  3. Light – Whether or not you plan to hike at night, a flashlight is one of the most important hiking gear items to take with you. Bring an excellent working flashlight with extra batteries. If something happens and you’re in the Shawnee after dark, you will thank yourself for bringing a flashlight. Turn your batteries the wrong way when not using the light so that you don’t accidentally turn it on and run the battery down.


Most Important Hiking Gear: First Aid Kit

An excellent first aid kit is a good piece of hiking gear to bring with you. But you don’t want to buy just any first aid kit.

  1. First Aid Kit – Get a first aid kit aimed at the outdoors and hiking. Please go through it and take out what you don’t know how to use. Not everything in the kit is going to be needed. Carry the basics such as band-aids, compression wrap, clotting powder, sanitization liquid, anti-diarrhea pills, ibuprofen, and sheers. You might want to add some more items. The trick only adds what you need and knows how to use it.


 And that’s it – the ten most important hiking gear items that you should be taking on almost every hiking trip in the Shawnee National Forest. By not taking most of the gear above, you are setting yourself up for a terrible journey on the trails. I hope you have enjoyed this article – if you did, please share it with others.


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Thanks again for checking out another one of my articles and until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!



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. I hope you enjoy my website and I encourage you to interact with me!

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