7 Items You Should Always Pack When You’re on the Fence

We’ve all been there before. You’re getting ready for a backpacking or hiking trip. You’re holding a backpacking stove, backpacking chair, rain jacket, or whatever, wondering whether or not you should pack it. You don’t want to pack something that you’re not going to use, after all.

The more you go hiking and backpacking, the better you understand what is and isn’t necessary on the trail. Identifying the non-essentials helps you reduce pack weight, and a lighter pack means a more comfortable hike.

Of course, it’s not always easy to know which items should be left at home. Sometimes you’ll be on the fence, uncertain as to whether or not you should pack a piece of gear or save the weight.

Here’s a list of hiking and backpacking items that are better to have and not need than to need and not have.


Headlamps are lightweight, compact, and incredibly useful. Sure, you can probably get by without one, but when you consider how beneficial they are and how little they weigh, it’s foolish not to carry one.

Emergency blanket

An emergency blanket – also known as a Mylar blanket or space blanket –  can save your life. They can be used to prevent hypothermia, keep you warm over night, and they can increase your chances of being found by search and rescue if you get lost.

Rain gear

It seems like the weather does the opposite of what you plan for. If you pack a rain jacket, the rain holds off, and if you leave it at home there will be buckets of rain.

Always pack a rain jacket, or an emergency rain poncho at the very least. The colder it is, the more important it is to have rain gear.


This could mean extra water, water purification drops, or a water purifier. Dehydration is dangerous, especially in extreme heat. You don’t want to run out of water.


It’s better to have too much food than not enough. Yes, food weight can add up quickly, but hiking and backpacking sap calories, and you need to replenish them to keep going strong.

First aid kit

Best case scenario, you never touch your backpacking first aid kit. It’s always good to have a first aid kit, however.

Don’t just pack emergency first aid gear like QuikClot, splints, and a suture kit. Include things that will come in handy such as a pair of finger nail clippers and lip balm.


This could be an extra long sleeve shirt, a thick fleece, or a down jacket depending on the weather. The weight of extra insulation layer is negligible compared to the comfort and safety it provides.

If you’re ever on the fence – trying to decide whether or not you should bring something – it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution. Stop by Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters for backpacking gear, hiking equipment, and outdoor gear in Northwest Arkansas!

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