13 Fun Things to Bring On a Hike | Cool Items to Bring Hiking

fun things to bring on a hike
Image Credit: Jason Gardner

Hiking is an adventure by itself, yet there are several fun things you can bring on a hike to make the experience even more enjoyable. These items can range from a compass and map to cameras and fishing poles. 

Before we get into some of the specific items to bring on a hike, here are some general tips to keep in mind.

  1. Keep it light: Even on a short hike, weight can add up quickly. Essential items, like food and water, should always take priority over “wishful” items.
  2. Keep it small: It’s the same idea as weight; big items take precious space, so keep them small.
  3. Keep it essential: What this means is, keep the item both fun and essential to the trip. For example, a fishing pole can be really fun, but in some ways, you could also call it essential if you plan on fishing for your lunch. Without it, you’d starve, so it becomes a high priority (though I, for one, probably wouldn’t rely on my fishing skills for my meal!)

With those guidelines in mind, here’s a list of fun things to bring on a hike. Keep in mind though, these are just guidelines. At the end of the day, if you want to bring something and it sounds fun to you, go for it!

  1. Travel fishing pole: This is simply a telescoping fishing pole that easily packs into or on the side of a day pack. They are super light, and if you are traveling near any fishing spots can be a great way to spend some time relaxing.
  1. Binoculars: Binoculars are great for looking at wildlife from far off and enjoying beautiful views. They are also helpful in finding familiar landmarks should you stray off the trail. Now I personally think binoculars are a little more of a luxury item than an essential item in most cases, but I really enjoy having them and almost always take them along. You might also invest in a good binocular chest harness to make carrying them more enjoyable.
  2. Map and compass: Though we are used to pulling out our phones and using GPS maps to pinpoint exactly where we are, using a map and compass is a really good and fun skill to have. Get yourself a quality compass and topo map, and you’ll have a ton of fun trekking your way in the woods.
  3. Camera: So not high on the essential list, but frequently a good choice. And though most of us have phones that take great pictures, if you can invest in a quality camera it will capture the moments and views better than any phone.
  4. Geocaching: It’s not as popular as it once was, but geocaching is still a ton of fun to do. It’s an outdoor treasure hunt, using GPS coordinates to find “treasures” that other people have hidden. You can use apps on your phone, but sometimes using an actual GPS is better.
  5. Flint and steel (or matches): It sounds a little caveman-like, but there’s nothing much better than having a break from a hike with a meal over a fire (frying the fish you caught with your travel fishing pole). It’s even more fun to challenge your wilderness skills by starting the fire with flint-and-steel or just using one match. Of course, always make sure a fire is allowed in the area you are hiking in and that it’s a safe place to do so.
  1. Knife: This can be just a pocket knife or something bigger like a fixed blade. Knives are on the high end of essential when you are on a hike. You can use them for slicing food, kindling for a fire, sharpening sticks for cooking with; the uses are endless. Even just whittling by the fire is an enjoyable pastime.
  1. Hammock and straps: Hammocks have become very compact and lightweight in the last few years. It’s easy to throw one in your pack (either for a hike or overnight camping trip), and set it up in seconds at your destination for a little bit of R&R. There are a variety of accessories you can get for hammocks that will help for different climates or situations (I.e. mosquito netting that goes around the whole hammock). Don’t forget the hammock straps to make it easy to set up!
  1. Outdoor survival book: There are many great resources for outdoor skills and taking a good book along to try out some of the skills is a great pastime. Heck, even just a fiction book to read by the fire or along the trail is a great way to pass the time. You can even get more specific with the survival book and get field guides more specific to your interest. Trees and plants, weather, mammal guides; there is a large variety to choose from.
  1. Tracking guide or cards: When you’re on the trail, keep a close eye out for tracks or scat (animal poop) in the dirt or soft soil. Having a compact book on tracking or identification cards will help you learn what animals have been in your area. It’s amazing to see what’s been going on at night or before you get to the area, or even who is ahead of you on the trail!
  1. Deck of playing cards: Small and compact, taking a break and playing cards on the trail or around the fire is a fun way to enjoy some comradery with fellow hikers. Go Fish, Black Jack (21), Three-Draw Poker are some easy ones to start with.
  1. Stargazing and constellation app: It’s important to take a break from our phones and the digital world. However, there are a few apps out there that are really cool for star gazing and learning the constellations. Night Sky is a good one to get you started. You hold your phone up and you can see the constellations on your phone as you move it across the sky. Stargazing without an app is thrilling too, and chances are good that if it’s dark enough you’ll be able to see some shooting stars or satellites moving across the open sky.
  1. Journal: To end the list here is something a little more thoughtful. Why not take a few minutes to write down some important thoughts or ideas you have while out in nature? Oftentimes our best ideas come when we are relaxed. Even writing down the facts of the day, what the weather was like, how far the hike was, items you brought along, etc., can be fun and helpful for when you take future trips.

So there’s a list of fun things to bring and do on a hike. Just remember, if you have some ideas you want to try on a hike, go for it! You’ll never know if it’s worth it unless you try it. The sky is the limit!

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