5 not-so-obvious items that will change your hiking trip, according to an outdoor expert

Thought you'd packed everything for hitting the trails? Think again...

A group of three friends hiking together in the country
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Whether you’re off on a short daily hike or a thru-hike, you’re going to want to take some essentials with you. Of course, there are the obvious checklist items: appropriate footwear, a waterproof jacket, a water bottle, and a decent hiking backpack to store everything in. But what about those not-so-obvious items, the ones that probably haven’t even crossed your mind, but often make a massive difference to your trip?

So that you aren't scratching your head for ages, trying to figure out what you need to take, we called upon hiking expert and mountain rescue volunteer Carys Rees, to share her five not-so-obvious items that make a massive difference to her hikes. Who knows, they may just change yours too. 

Also, make sure you check out the 9 best to worst items to take hiking, to prevent you from overpacking.

1. Duct tape

A roll of duct tape

(Image credit: Getty Images)

You may think this is more appropriate for camping than hiking, but Carys explains it can be a lot more handy than you think. “This isn’t just useful if you’ve had enough of listening to your friend’s stories while out on a long hike, it can be used to repair waterproof jackets and backpacks,” says Carys. “But it can also be used to tape fingers together too if you’re injured, or even broken crampon straps – pretty much anything that’s broken.” 

2.  Garmin InReach Mini

“I wouldn’t be without my Garmin InReach Mini (retailer link),” says Carys. “It’s a satellite communicator which allows me to send messages to loved ones as well as the emergency services. They can also track me and see my exact location. For me, it adds a level of safety when I’m out on remote hills, especially when I’m hiking solo in areas with little or no mobile signal.”

3. Spare boot laces

Person lacing up their hiking boots

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Is there anything worse than one of the laces snapping on your hiking boots while you’re out on the trails? Apart from maybe forgetting your waterproof in a downpour, we don’t think so. That’s why Carys suggests always carrying a spare pair. “They can also be used to tie things to your backpack or, if you’re camping too, a guy line should one break on your tent or even a mini clothesline to air out damp clothing.” 

4. Vaseline

Cheap and cheerful, a little pot of this can be hugely beneficial in both the colder and warmer months, says Carys. “It’s highly likely you’ll get chapped lips while out hiking (especially in the cold), but Vaseline is also great for chaffing and can prevent blisters if you apply it to any hot spots on your feet.” Because no one wants chaffing or blisters, they'll zap the joy right out of your hiking.

5. Christmas cake

A piece of Christmas cake

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Long hikes especially require a good supply of snacks and, according to Carys, this is the snack we’ve all been missing. “It sounds a bit random, but it really is the perfect hiking snack,” she says. “Just a slice or two. It keeps forever and is energy-dense when a pick-me-up is needed.” No Christmas cake left in the house? Just grab your favourite instead.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.