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10 Essential Tech Gadgets and Gear to Buy Before Hiking

10 Essential Tech Gadgets and Gear to Buy Before Hiking

As the gates lift and The Great Lockdowns end, lots of us are making a beeline for the nearest hiking trail. Freedom! What better way to celebrate than fresh air and exercise, plus stunning natural views? But what should we add to our backpack before we set out? Our ace correspondent Tomas White, himself an avid hiker, has answers. Here’s his curated list of must-have lightweight items for hiking, including these 10 essential tech gadgets and gear that you should probably buy before your next hike.

The 10 essential tech gadgets and gear to buy before your next Hiking trip

Hiking gear and gadgets must strike a delicate balance. The whole point of going on a hike is to get away from your normal world and commune with nature. Fussing with a gadget is really one of the last things you want to be doing.

Must-have lightweight items for hiking include these 10 essential tech gadgets and gear

Must-have lightweight items for hiking include these 10 essential tech gadgets and gear.

Furthermore, there is a clear inverse relationship between hike enjoyment and the weight of one’s backpack. Carrying all the gear you could theoretically need would quickly result in you being flat on your back!

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Nonetheless, there truly are some great gadgets that can help you be more present and add to the enjoyment of a hike. Below are 10 items that we think are worth carrying in your pack and would also make great gifts for a fellow hiker. Get some fresh air this spring. You know you deserve it!

Must-Have-Gear That You Hope to Never Use

Ironically, a lot of great hiking gear is gear that you actually never want to use. The very possession of this gear however can provide an extra layer of safety and can help put your mind at ease to enjoy the moment. A miniature GPS enabled Satellite Communicator, an emergency water purifier, a dry compression bag, an ultralight medical kit, or a bright headlamp, are wise things to have at the bottom of your pack and take up a lot less space than you would think.

Must-have lightweight items for hiking include these 10 essential tech gadgets and essential gear

The 10 most essential Hiking Gear items to buy right now

1. Emergency Satellite Communicator

The inReach Mini by Garmin is a GPS and Satellite Communicator that fits in the palm of your hand but is probably one of the most useful life saving devices you could have in case of emergency. Even if you are outside of cell phone range, this device lets you summon emergency assistance at the click of a button by contacting GEOS, a global emergency response coordinator. The internal GPS will notify your rescuers of your exact location and the built-in messaging capabilities will even let you communicate with them while you wait for help. Even if you are not in an emergency, this device can give peace of mind to family back home by automatically sending them periodic updates of your exact location.

essential hiking gear

Essential hiking gear items: Emergency Satellite Communicator. Courtesy Photo.

You can also use this device to text or email any recipient that you choose (including another inReach), and you can also pair it with your cellphone to get accurate GPS map readings of your location. Frankly though, it is the SOS and location broadcasting functionality that makes this device a must have.

essential hiking gear

Essential hiking gear items: Emergency Satellite Communicator. Courtesy Photo.

BUY NOW – $349.99

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2. Water Filter

Carrying a water filter with you on a day hike might seem like overkill, but given how tiny and effective this one is, you have nothing to lose, but much to gain. The Sawyer system consistently gets top reviews for quickly and effectively filtering water. At only 2 oz in weight, you can get clean, safe, tasty water without having to use the harsh bad tasting chemical treatments of days yore.

essential hiking gear

What to buy in hiking gear: Water Filter. Courtesy Photo.

If your water bottle happens to develop a leak and you are in need of clean water, all you have to do is fill up one of their pouches from a water source, screw in the filter, squeeze, and drink out of the included straw.

essential hiking gear

Must-have lightweight items for hiking include these 10 essential tech gadgets and essential gear: Water Filter. Courtesy Photo.

BUY NOW –  $19.99

3. Dry Sack

A summer shower might provide welcome relief from a hot hike, but chances are you are travelling with items that will not appreciate the water, such as car keys, wallets, or phones.  A lightweight waterproof compression sack is a great piece of gear to have on hand to protect them from a drenching rainstorm. These make absolutely great gifts and come in all sizes and shapes. People even use these to organize and create more space in their packs, even if there is no chance of rain. A lot of companies make dry sacks, but SeaToSummit probably has the largest range and best reputation.

essential hiking gear

What to buy in hiking gear: Seatosummit Dry Sack. Courtesy Photo.

BUY NOW –  $14.95 – $29.95

4. Headlamp

Even if you are just planning on doing a day hike, it is always a good idea to carry a light in case the setting sun beats you to your destination. Once you have used a hands-free headlamp, chances are that you will never go back to using a flashlight. The Actik Core is probably the best headlamp on the market now. This light is super bright (450 Lumens), super light (2.6 oz), has adjustable beam settings (flood or focused beam), and allows you to adjust the brightness. A nifty feature includes a red light setting to preserve night vision and prevent members of a group from blinding each other. It also has a strobe function to attract attention in case of an emergency.

essential hiking gear

Must-have lightweight items for hiking include these 10 essential tech gadgets and essential gear: Headlamp. Courtesy Photo.

BUY NOW –  $79.95

5. Hiking Medical Kit

That flask of cognac you are carrying might refresh flagging spirits and, in a pinch, might even disinfect a wound, but let’s be honest, it is no replacement for a proper medical kit. Something as simple as a blister or a sprained ankle can turn a simple hike into an ordeal and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be prepared.

essential hiking gear

What to buy in hiking gear: Medical Kit. Courtesy Photo.

This ultralight medical kit is in a tough ripstop waterproof bag, has wound care, blister care, elastic bands for strains, basic medication, and even all-useful duct tape! At 8 ounces, it is still lighter than that flask and one kit is probably sufficient for your whole hiking party.

essential hiking gear

Must-have lightweight items for hiking include these 10 essential tech gadgets and other gear: Medical Kit. Courtesy Photo.

BUY NOW –  $28.95

Gear to Help with the Actual Walking bit of Hiking

The beauty of walking is how simple it is. In theory, all you need to go on a walk are your two feet! In practice, most hikers have at the minimum a pair of grippy thick soled shoes and some clothes to protect them from the elements. While we won’t recommend any specific shoes, we do have some recommendations on technical clothing and head gear. If you have never used them, a good pair of hiking poles can also feel like an evolutionary leap over the standard human bipedal gait, and we have a good one to recommend.

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6. Merino Wool Clothing

Seasoned backcountry hikers will frequently tell you: “Cotton Kills.” They actually have good reason to say this. When cotton gets wet not only does it provide zero insulation, but it also conducts heat away from the body 25 times faster than air. Wool on the other hand is naturally water repellant, preventing it from getting waterlogged. Even if water is coming through a wool garment, there will still be pockets of air space in the fabric that will provide insulation. Remarkably, even in hot and humid environments, merino wool is better than cotton by quickly wicking and drying perspiration from your skin allowing you to cool down more effectively.

Essential hiking gear items: Merino Wool Clothing. Courtesy Photo.

From super thin merino wool baselayers for the summer to winter fabrics with more weight, SmartWool is your best bet for technical clothing. While they are famous for their socks they have a range a technical merino clothing that are soft, itch free, and with flat minimal seams.

Essential hiking gear items: Merino Wool Clothing. Courtesy Photo.

BUY NOW –  $45 – $230

7. Rain Hat

Once you have worn a good rain hat, chances are that you will never want to use a jacket hoodie again. In fact, it will probably even replace your umbrella on your daily commute to work

A good rain hat has 3 big advantages over a Gore-Tex jacket hoodie. 1) It doesn’t restrict your line of sight at all. If you pivot your head to the side you, will not be looking into the side of a hoodie. 2) Your ears are not boxed in, thus preventing the unpleasant, cavernous and amplified sound of raindrops hitting your head. 3) Lastly, rain hats have great brims that actually help prevent your face from getting soaked, something a hoodie cannot do.

The Gore-Tex Seattle Sombrero by Outdoor Research is probably the best rain hat out there and comes in a variety of colors and sizes.

Must-have lightweight items for hiking include these 10 essential tech gadgets and gear that you should buy before your next hike

What to buy in hiking gear: Rain Hat. Courtesy Photo.

BUY NOW – $65

8. Walking Pole

Purists might scoff at walking poles, but they provide indisputable advantages that can make a hike less painful, safer, and even faster. Here are just some of their benefits: 1) They help you establish a consistent walking rhythm; 2) They help provide balance and stability; 3) Scientific studies have proven that they decrease stress on feet, legs, knees, and lower back; 4) They help maintain proper posture; and 5) Poles are great probes to test loose rocks, puddle depth, or icy terrain. In fact, poles not only make a specific hike more enjoyable but have been shown to have long term benefits by extending one’s lifetime of actively hiking on trails.

What to buy in hiking gear: Walking Poles. Courtesy Photo.

In terms of specific pole traits, you want poles that are 1) light, 2) strong, 3) foldable, 4) height adjustable, 5) durable, and 6) provide good ergonomics. The best poles on the market now are made by the German company Leki. The poles only weigh 7.3 ounces, easily fold down to a compact size, and are incredibly strong.

Must-have lightweight items for hiking include these 10 essential tech gadgets and gear that you should buy before your next hike

What to buy in hiking gear: Walking Poles. Courtesy Photo.

BUY NOW – $249.95

Gear to Make the Most of Rest Times

Lastly, a good hike always has some moments of stillness, where you stop moving, enjoy the sights, feel the breeze, and connect with the world around you.  For these moments, we recommend a top of the line, monocular (think half of a binocular) to better observe wildlife, and an incredibly light hammock to repose while doing so.

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9. Monocular

Besides being half the size and weight, monoculars have distinct advantages over binoculars. Most importantly they provide for instant use. By being able to have one in your pocket or around your neck instead of in your pack behind you, you will find that you actually use it with frequency. Furthermore, a monocular is substantially faster and easier to focus than a pair of binoculars, allowing you to quickly see that bird in the sky or identify that animal walking on the trail.

Must-have lightweight items for hiking include these 10 essential tech gadgets and gear that you should buy before your next hike

Must-have lightweight items for hiking include these 10 essential tech gadgets: Monocular. Courtesy Photo.

The Rolls Royce of monoculars is the Monovid 8×20 by Leica. It is truly head and shoulders above its competition. It delivers an incredibly bright sharp image, has a nitrogen filled housing to prevent fogging, and is built with a rugged, fully waterproof case. If you are more interested in insects than birds, it also comes with a special attachment to convert it to a microscope to view objects less than 10 inches away. Coming in at 4 oz. in weight and less than 4 inches in length, it is also sleeker than most of its competition.

Must-have lightweight items for hiking include these 10 essential tech gadgets: Monovid 8×20 by Leica. Courtesy Photo.

BUY NOW – $499

10. Hammock

What is more relaxing than a hammock? Just mentioning the word conjures up relaxing images of gently swinging in the breeze, taking naps, and soaking in pleasant views. Well, there is no reason hiking should be all exertion and no relaxation, and you don’t have to be a magician to pull a hammock out of your bag.

Must-have lightweight items for hiking include these 10 essential tech gadgets and gear that you should buy before your next hike

Must-have lightweight items for hiking include these 10 essential tech gadgets: SeatoSummit Hammock. Courtesy Photo.

Weighing in at less than 20 oz. and compressing down to 4×5 inches, SeatoSummit makes a great ultra-lightweight hammock that takes less than a minute to set up or pack down. Made with ripstop nylon and a built-in compression sack, this hammock is designed for hikers, and honestly, a great addition to your pack that will be the source of envy to other hikers. Whether a five-minute snack break or a one-hour nap in the shade, this is a comfortable hammock designed for easy access.

Must-have lightweight items for hiking include these 10 essential tech gadgets and gear that you should buy before your next hike

Must-have lightweight items for hiking include these 10 essential tech gadgets: SeatoSummit Hammock. Courtesy Photo.

BUY NOW –  $89.95

10 essential Hiking gadgets and Gear to buy before your next hike

The expert has spoken! The must-have lightweight items for hiking include these 10 essential tech gadgets and gear that you should buy before your next hike. Happy trails, dear reader!

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This article contains affiliate links to products independently selected by our editors. As an Amazon Associate, Dandelion Chandelier receives a commission for qualifying purchases made through these links. 

A fan of remote nature travel, Tomas White enjoys the dichotomy of the good life in harsh settings, whether it is scuba diving off a decommissioned deep-sea oil platform in the Celebes Sea or reading a good book in a remote desert resort in Utah. He likes to keep his possessions to a minimum, and is thus a huge fan of the power of technology and is very particular about finding well-designed items that are built to last. Tomas majored in English at Harvard, and is making a career in IT. He lives in Chicago with his wife and 4-year-old son.

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