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In this article we will be looking at some of the best hiking gadgets that will help to enhance your experience.
Hiking and backpacking are great activities to help you unwind, recover, and connect with nature. It’s always great to get away and disconnect from the outside world so you might think why do I need a ton of gadgets?
Being so disconnected is obviously great but taking along a few hiking gadgets can have several benefits, the number one being safety. For instance, what are you going to do if something goes wrong and you can’t get help because there’s no cell signal? Taking along a device which will help you to call for help, even in the most remote of areas is a great idea.
Taking a few gadgets along on the journey will not only help keep you safe but can actually help to improve your experience for the better. Let’s get into it.
- Best Hiking Gadgets – Navigation
- Best Hiking Gadgets – Connections
- Best Hiking Gadgets – Safety/Survival
- Best Hiking Gadgets – Power
- Best Hiking Gadgets – Hydration
- Best Hiking Gadgets – Cameras
- Other Interesting Hiking Gadgets
- Choosing Gadgets for the Trails
Best Hiking Gadgets – Navigation
1. Garmin Fenix 6
A trusty compass and map has always been a dependable way to navigate your way through the wilderness. However, nowadays there are so many high-tech navigation options to choose from and they are getting smaller and smaller.
The Garmin Fenix 6 is a multisport GPS watch and is about the best watch for hiking you can currently buy. The Fenix 6 is packed full of features, including the ability to track many activities such as hiking, runs, cycling, weight training, yoga and many others. You can also load specific maps onto the watch so you can navigate the trails flawlessly. The GPS on the watch is extremely accurate and reliable which is exactly what you need when out in the backcountry.
The Fenix 6 comes in a few different models, each of which have different features. For hiking you should make sure you get either the Pro or Sapphire model as these have the maps feature. You can also choose the size of the watch, I would recommend the 6X as it is much easier to use the GPS maps with a larger display. If you want to take advantage of the sun to charge your watch, get the solar model.
All these features do come at a price, as the Fenix 6 is rather expensive. However, if you plan on using it on many of your hikes it could be a good investment as it is built to last.
2. Garmin Instinct
If you’re looking for something a little more affordable, then the budget-friendly Garmin Instinct is the hiking watch for you. It may be a lot cheaper than the Fenix 6, but it still has plenty of features to improve your experience on the trails. The Instinct is actually targeted towards outdoor enthusiasts, which means you can expect it to handle the toughest of environments.
Some of the Instinct’s features include GPS tracking which includes access to GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite systems. It also has ABC sensors, including an altimeter for elevation gain data, a barometer for weather updates, and a compass. The watch also has some sports applications for many activities such as hiking, running, cycling and swimming.
If you’re just getting started with watches for hiking, the Garmin Instinct is a great one to start with.
Best Hiking Gadgets – Connections
3. Garmin inReach Mini
As you might be able to tell, Garmin have already created some of the best hiking gadgets and the Garmin inReach Mini is no exception. The inReach Mini is a small and lightweight satellite communicator.
The main function of the inReach Mini is to contact help if you get yourself into trouble when you’re out in the backcountry. Using the device, you can send an SOS message to the Garmin-powered international emergency response coordination center. This SOS message is sent via satellite so you’ll be able to get help even in the most remote of areas.
As well as being able to call for help, you can stay in contact with loved ones as the device lets you send and receive text messages. So even when there’s no cell signal you will still be able to keep in contact with your friends and family via satellite.
If you regularly go hiking in remote areas or for many days at a time, the inReach Mini may be perfect for you – it’s very popular among thru-hikers. It is worth noting that the device does require a subscription plan so may not be suitable if you’re just going on the odd hike here and there.
4. goTenna Mesh
Another interesting communication device is the goTenna Mesh. When the cell signal is non-existent, this device allows you to send and receive messages with others that have a goTenna Mesh. If you’re hiking with a group of people of different hiking capabilities, this could be a very useful gizmo. If you happen to get separated from others in your group, the goTenna Mesh would allow you to stay in contact.
Although it doesn’t quite have the communication capabilities of the Garmin inReach Mini, it is certainly an interesting concept.
Best Hiking Gadgets – Safety/Survival
5. ACR ResQLink 400
During multi-day hiking trips or hikes in remote areas, there are two safety devices that will help give you some peace of mind. These two devices are a satellite communicator and a personal locator beacon, or PLB for short. We have already looked at what a satellite communicator does but now let’s look at the alternative, a PLB.
A PLB allows you to send a distress signal in the case of an emergency. Once activated, the device sends a radio signal, which will be picked up by a local rescue agency. The rescue agency will be able to see your location and will organize a search and rescue operation to save you.
PLB’s and satellite communicators have similar purposes but offer the user different features. A PLB doesn’t require a subscription plan but it doesn’t allow you to send and receive messages. A satellite communicator does allow for sending and receiving of messages but requires the extra cost of a subscription fee.
If you are simply looking for a device that will allow you to send an SOS signal in an emergency, a PLB will work out as a far more cost effective method. The ACR ResQLink 400 is a good option, it uses both GPS and Galileo satellite systems and has built in buoyancy for use near water. The ACR ResQLink View is another great option that also has a digital display to provide live status and GPS coordinates.
Not sure whether to get a PLB or satellite communicator. Check out this great article which explains all!
6. Titan Paracord Survival Bracelet
Maybe not one of the most exciting or even best hiking gadgets on this list, the Titan Paracord survival bracelet is certainly useful to have in the right circumstances. Taking this stylish bracelet on your next hike might just save the day if anything happens to go wrong.
The survival bracelet is made of 550 paracord that has been woven in a Trilobite weave pattern. The paracord is military standard and when unraveled is 3.5 meters or 11 feet in length. Hidden inside of the paracord is 11 feet of fishing line, snare wire, and waxed jute, which can be used to easily start a fire.
Best Hiking Gadgets – Power
7. Goal Zero Nomad 10 Portable Solar Panel
Having the ability to charge your electronics can be extremely useful, especially on multi-day hikes and backpacking trips. There are a few options on the market but I love the idea of charging your phone, camera, and other items using your own portable solar panel.
The Goal Zero Nomad series of solar panels were built to take on hikes. The panels come in a number of sizes with different power capabilities, but the Nomad 10 is a great choice for hikers. The Nomad 10 is a lightweight panel that can be attached to the back of your pack or simply left out propped up with its built-in kickstand.
With the Nomad 10 you can either plug the solar panel into a power bank to charge it up during your hike or, if you want to charge your phone or another device, you can simply charge these straight from the solar panel and cut out the middle man.
8. Anker PowerCore 10,000mAh Power Bank
When embarking on a multi-day trip a reliable power bank is a must have item, especially if you’re using your phone, a camera or even a smartwatch. There is so much choice on the market with power banks, however I have always found Anker’s products to be reliable.
When choosing a power bank for hiking, you should try and find one that packs enough power but isn’t overly heavy. For most, a power bank with a capacity of 10,000mAh will be plenty. With this capacity you will be able to charge a smartphone 2-3 times, depending on which phone you have.
The Anker Powercore 10,000mAh power bank is a great choice for hikers and backpackers as it is small, compact and only weighs 180g or 6.35oz. An added bonus is that the Powercore charges your devices very quickly. It uses something called PowerIQ and VoltageBoost to provide high speed charging, which is a very welcome addition.
Best Hiking Gadgets – Hydration
9. Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System
If you like to go out on longer multi day hikes and backpacking trips, then it’s extremely important to plan where you’ll get your water from. You may not always have access to clean drinking water on your hikes, so what do you do? Instead of carrying all your water and breaking your back, you could simply invest in a portable water filter.
A great example of this is the Sawyer Squeeze water filtration system. With this filter, you can easily turn the water found in lakes, rivers and streams into clean and safe drinking water. With the Sawyer Squeeze you can remove 99.9% of bacteria and protozoa, as well as 100% of microplastics from the water you filter.
The Sawyer Squeeze is very small and only weighs 3 ounces or 85g so it’s very hiking friendly. As well as being compact, it’s extremely versatile as you can set up the filter in many different configurations.
The simplest configuration is to fill up the water pouch at a river or lake, screw the water filter onto the pouch, then simply squeeze the pouch full of water. The water will pass through the filter and you can collect the clean filtered water in your water bottle. You can also attach the filter to the top of a screw top water bottle and drink the water straight from the filter itself.
Another interesting take on a water filter for the outdoors, is the Lifestraw. Unlike other water filters on the market, the Lifestraw will allow you to drink your water straight from the source itself. It’s essentially a straw with a water filter on the inside. Just put one end of the straw into a river, lake or stream and drink from the other end. The filter will remove 99.9% of bacteria, parasites, and microplastics from the water.
The only downside of this filter is that it does not allow you to collect water. However, the company has another gadget called the Lifestraw Flex, which does.
The Lifestraw Flex is a combination of a water filter and collapsible water bottle. To use, just fill the water bottle with your water of choice, attach the filter, and drink clean water straight from the bottle. This is a great little gadget for hikers as it takes up next to no room when not in use but allows you access to clean water whenever near a natural source.
Best Hiking Gadgets – Cameras
11. GoPro Hero9 Black
Hiking and photography are two of my favorite things, so it’s fortunate they go hand in hand with each other. There are so many cameras to choose from nowadays but the best hiking cameras are small, lightweight, and capable of capturing high-quality footage.
The GoPro Hero9 Black is a great example of a camera that has everything you could want in a hiking camera. It’s small, only weighs 5.6oz or 158g, and packs unbelievable image quality.
If you like to record your adventures, the 5K 30fps and 4K 60fps video will allow you to capture the best of your hikes. The Hero9 is also capable of capturing 4K time-lapse video, as well as 20MP still images.
At this size and weight, there are not too many other cameras on the market that match the Hero9’s feature set. For the everyday hiker looking for a good, lightweight camera to use out on the trail, look no further than the GoPro Hero9 Black.
12. GoPro Hero8 Black
If you’re put off by the Hero9’s price tag then the GoPro Hero8 Black may be the perfect alternative for you. The Hero8 is the model that precedes the Hero9, which means it is a little more affordable.
The Hero8 lacks a few features in comparison to the Hero9 but nonetheless is still an impressive camera. The Hero8 is both smaller and lighter than the alternative at 4.13oz or 117g, which is great news for us hikers.
It is capable of 4K 60fps video and can capture 240fps at 1080p for those super slow motion shots. The Hero8 Black also shoots 12MP still images and 4K time-lapse video. With all this, the possibilities are endless and you’re sure to capture top notch footage on your hikes.
13. DJI Pocket 2
Another tiny and impressive hiking friendly camera worth looking at, is the DJI Pocket 2. If you like to record videos during your hikes, then this could be one of the best hiking gadgets for you.
The Pocket 2 is a small hand held camera with a 3-axis motorized gimbal. If you’re not familiar with what a gimbal does, it essentially stabilizes the camera to prevent shaky shots. With the Pocket 2, expect super smooth footage that even a professional cameraman would be proud of.
The camera shoots at 4K with 60fps and can also capture slow-motion shots at 240fps in 1080p. It has plenty of video modes to choose from including HDR video, time-lapse, motion lapse, and hyper-lapse.
As well as its video capabilities, the Pocket 2 can shoot extremely high quality photos. It is capable of 64MP images, which is impressive considering the entire camera only weighs 117g or 4.13oz.
Other Interesting Hiking Gadgets
The majority of the best hiking gadgets we have covered already may be very useful and in some cases even essential to have on trail. The next few I am going to cover are more like luxury items that may help to enhance your enjoyment.
If you’re a coffee fiend like me then you have to invest in an Aeropress to take on your hikes. Brewing a fresh cup of delicious coffee out in the wilderness has never been easier.
The Aeropress is very simple to use, even in the outdoors. To make, add some ground coffee, pour in your hot water, give it a stir and wait 2 minutes. Once two minutes is up, press the plunger until all the coffee has been collected in your cup. The only thing left to do is enjoy your cup of coffee.
The Aeropress only weighs 184g or 6.49oz which is great as it won’t add too much weight to your pack. It would be a great addition for those multi-day hikes, especially if you can’t function without your caffeine in the mornings!
If you want an even more compact coffee brewer, check out the Aeropress Go, it’s smaller but just as capable.
15. Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2
A Bluetooth speaker might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to a list of the best hiking gadgets. However, if you’re on a backpacking trip, taking a little speaker to play some music on while you’re at camp for the night is a great idea.
If you are taking a speaker with you on your hikes, it’s important that it is compact and lightweight. A bulky, heavy speaker is the last thing you want taking up valuable space in your bag.
If you do want to take a speaker, the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 is the one for all your outdoor adventures. It has everything that you could possibly need.
Firstly, the Wonderboom 2 is very compact and weighing only 420g or 14.82oz, is very lightweight. The speaker is waterproof, dustproof, and drop-proof so you know it will survive the trip outdoors. Speaking of outdoors, the Wonderboom 2 has an outdoor boost function to make listening outside even more enjoyable. To top it all off, the Wonderboom 2 is very well priced considering all its features.
One last thing to note, if you are going to be using a speaker on your hikes, always make sure you’re not disturbing other nearby hikers. You don’t want to be the guy or girl ruining everyone else’s trip!
16. Hummingbird Single Hammock
Although not an essential item, once you take a hammock with you on your hike, you won’t be able to hike again without one.
The Hummingbird single hammock is a super lightweight hammock weighing only 147g or 5.2oz. It’s aimed specifically at hikers who are looking for a little more comfort.
The hammock is super easy to set up and it only takes a couple minutes to rig it up. It’s a nice added luxury that won’t take up too much space in your bag.
Choosing Gadgets for the Trails
Now we have covered all 16 of the best hiking gadgets on the list, it’s time to see what makes them so hiking friendly. There are a few characteristics you will want to look out for when choosing your own gadgets to take on your hikes.
It should really go without saying that all the gear you take with you on your hikes should be well built and durable. The trail can be an unforgiving place, so everything you take along on the journey needs to be able to withstand a few knocks and bangs.
This may sometimes mean spending a little extra money on well made gear. However, if you’re hiking regularly, spending a little more for products that will last is well worth it.
You can have all the best hiking gadgets in the world but if you don’t use them, was there really any point in taking them? For instance, an Aeropress is great to have but if you never make yourself a coffee with it, it’s just another item taking up space in your pack.
However, on the other hand, there are a few useful and functional gadgets that you may want to take as a precautionary measure. A personal locator beacon is something you hope you’ll never have to use but it’s nice to know it’s there just in case the worst happens.
On multi-day hiking trips the weight in your pack can determine whether or not you enjoy your time out on the trail. That’s one of the reasons why ultralight backpacking is so popular among many in the hiking community.
When picking the best hiking gadgets, try to find ones that aren’t going to add too much weight to your pack. If something is going to add a considerable amount of weight, make sure it’s something you actually need to take with you.
Prioritize the Essentials
Last but not least, try to prioritize the essential items. Not everything on this list is an essential item and as such you’ll have to prioritize what you deem to be essential. For instance, a GPS watch isn’t something I consider essential for myself, however for others it may be an essential piece of kit.
Prioritizing essential items is important but it’s also okay to take along luxury items as well, especially on those longer hikes. You want to make sure you’re enjoying yourself out there and sometimes a little added luxury is all it takes. It is however worth putting a limit on the number of luxury items you take along, try to limit it to only 1 or 2.
What are some of your favorite hiking gadgets? Let us know in the comments below.