Essential 3-Season Gear Guide

Hiking: 3-Season Gear Checklist (Spring, Summer, and Fall)

The following list is extensive. Not every person will bring every item, but every group should carry at least one first aid kit and all items on the group gear list. When you head into the backcountry, you are responsible for assessing the terrain, current conditions, your abilities and those of your group, and what items you should have in your pack to survive if you encounter a mishap or sustain an injury.

Shop Gear in the AMC Store

Many essential gear items are available for purchase in the AMC Store. Shop our selection now.

SHOP GEAR NOW

Hiking: 3-Season Gear Checklist

Note: No checklist is infallible. Before you head out on an adventure, it is important to check the weather, prepare for the worse possible conditions and make a plan based upon your personal and/or your group's abilities in mind. Plan an alternate route in case of bad weather, injury, illness or slower than expected travel time. Before departing, make sure someone at home knows your plan: where you are going, with whom, and when you plan to return. And make sure you know how to use the gear you carry.

  • Daypack/backpack

  • Waterproof pack cover

  • High-energy food & snacks

  • Water (at least 2 quarts per person)

  • Water bottles or hydration system

  • Water treatment system

  • Trowel

  • Toilet paper

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Re-sealable, double-bagged plastic bags to pack out toilet paper

  • Sunscreen

  • Lip balm

  • Sunglasses

  • Insect repellent

  • Head net

  • First aid kit

  • Personal medications: For example, an inhaler (asthma) or Epi-pen (allergies)

  • Repair kit , including a knife/multi-tool and duct tape

  • Headlamp/flashlight w/ extra batteries

  • Lighter/matches

  • Firestarter (for emergencies)

  • Whistle

  • Mirror

  • Route description/guidebook and trail map

  • Compass

  • Trip itinerary (2)

Tip: Leave an itinerary at home with a friend or family member, and place one, out of sight, in the car parked at the trailhead.

  • Personal ID, insurance card, credit card and a small amount of emergency cash

  • Nylon cord

  • Waterproof journal/notebook

  • Pen/pencil

  • Contractor grade trash bags

Note: Plastic trash bags serve many functions: Use them as pack liners to keep your gear dry, to carry out trash, as a makeshift rain poncho, or as an emergency bivouac sack.

  • Group Gear: If you are traveling in a group, carry at least 1 sleeping bag, 1 closed foam sleeping pad and 1 form of shelter (tarp, tent, bivy sack, or emergency blanket), 1 cook stove, fuel and pot. These tools can be used in an emergency to keep an injured hiker warm until help arrives. Hypothermia is more of a threat when you sit, immobilized, due to an injury.

  • Trekking poles

  • Watch

  • Cell phone

  • Camera

  • Wicking (synthetic, wool or silk) underwear

  • Wicking (synthetic, wool or silk) t-shirt

  • Wicking (synthetic, wool or silk) long underwear

  • Synthetic or wool long pants

Tip: Zip-off pants, which convert to shorts, are popular in the warmer weather

  • Wicking (synthetic, wool or silk) long-sleeve shirt

  • Insulating layers - top and bottom: Fleece jacket (or vest)/pants

  • Wind/rain gear - top and bottom: Waterproof, breathable fabric

  • Synthetic or wool hat

Tip: In the warmer weather, a baseball cap or brim hat to shield your face from the sun can also be helpful.

  • Bandanna or Buff

  • Gloves or mittens

  • Boots (or shoes suited to the terrain)

  • Socks (synthetic or wool)

  • Gaiters