One of the great things about hiking is that you do not need lots and lots of specific equipment to get started. However, there are some essential items of hiking kit that we believe you should have that will make your hiking experience much better! We believe there are two categories to this list: essential to have with you and essentials to have at the end of your hike!

Essential hiking kit to have with you:

Rain Jacket

Re-waterproof your jacket
Even though it is summer in Ireland you will still need a light rain jacket in your pack. The weather can change quickly in the mountains so being prepared for rain is definitely essential. There are loads of options on the market for raincoats but we would recommend something like the Salewa Puez Aqua. This rain jacket is lightweight, durable and won’t break the bank. Salewa is a brand that is synonymous with high-performance outdoor gear. So you know you are getting good quality.

Shop Men’s 

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Insulation is a hiking essential. We would recommend carrying a fleece layer with you on all hikes. Fleece is a lightweight material that works brilliantly as an insulation material during the warmer months. We would recommend either the Killarney fleece for women or the Cong fleece for men by Irish outdoor brand Portwest.

Cong Fleece – Portwest

Salthill Fleece – Portwest

A Lightweight T-Shirt

There are few things worse than hiking in a cotton T-shirt in Ireland. This may seem dramatic, but if it is a warm day, or a wet day, cotton will soak up the moisture and lead to chafing and general discomfort. We don’t want that. We would recommend a lightweight technical t-shirt. The Zero Rules by Columbia is a top contender. This t-shirt packs a lot of useful technology into a lightweight active t-shirt.

Explore Zero Rules Men’s

Explore Zero Rules Women’s 

First Aid Kit

Having a lightweight first aid kit, and knowing how to use its contents, is definitely essential if you are heading out into the mountains, regardless of how strenuous your hike is going to be!

Lifeventure First Aid Kits


Salewa Mountain Trainer
Footwear is a huge talking point when it comes to hiking. The footwear that is essential will very much depend on the hike you are tackling. Among mountain rescue organizations the conclusion is that the majority of accidents that occur are due to improper footwear. So making sure you have the right shoes for the job is essential. Our quick advice on the topic is that if you are walking on trails a walking shoe or trail runner is a great option, but if you are on more unstable mountain tracks or open mountains a rigid hiking boot is necessary. We have listed a few recommendations below. We would however recommend going to an outdoor specialist retailer and discussing your footwear needs with them.

Dynafit Ultra 100

Hoka Speedgoat

Salewa MTN Trainer

Nuasan Active Body Wipes

If you are tackling a longer hike being able to stay fresh is very important. We have been using Nuasan Active Body Wipes on our recent hikes and have found that they keep us, especially our feet, feeling fresh throughout a long day of hiking.

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Nuasan: A Sustainable Irish Active Skincare Brand

Sun cream

If you plan on being out for a few hours, sun cream might be a good consideration! Yes even in Ireland! Top tip! We recently came across a blend of sun cream and bug spray in Great Outdoors which would be very good for late-season summer hikes where bugs can be an issue.

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Good Hiking Socks

How to: Pick the Perfect Hiking Socks
How to: Pick the Perfect Hiking Socks

An absolutely essential hiking item. Good hiking socks will transform your hiking experience. They might seem like a small and perhaps insignificant Item but believe us when we say good hiking socks are essential!

We would recommend the Meindl MT2 sock as it is light enough for summer use while still maintaining enough padding and comfort to be a functional hiking sock.

Shop Meindl MT2 Sock

48 Hours in Clifden a Sustainable Staycation  


All year round it is important to stay hydrated when you are out on the hills but especially in the warmer months. Some people like using water bottles and others prefer hydration bladders. It is up to you which of these you use but just make sure that you have enough water. Or have a filtration slash purification solution for procuring water from natural sources.

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Shop Bladders

Shop MSR Water Filter

Thermos Flask

Flasks are an excellent addition to anyone’s hiking gear. Having a warm homecooked meal on a blustery peak or a mug of tea as you shelter on the leeward side of a rock is an authentic Irish hillwalking experience and one we would encourage everyone to have. There are a few types of flasks we would encourage you to consider. Depending on what you want to keep warm, there are 2 different types of flask we would recommend. Food flasks are wider, easier to eat from, and generally come with a folding spoon. The classic 1-liter flask has a smaller top which allows it to be more efficient and keeps your drink warmer for longer! You can explore our picks below!

Shop 1 Liter Flask

Shop Food Flask


This might seem like a bit of a bizarre addition to a hiking kit list however much like good hiking socks good hiking underwear is essential to staying comfortable on long days on the trail. When it comes to men’s underwear the gold standard is SAXX underwear. What sets SAXX apart from the rest is not only that they use incredibly comfortable materials, but they also feature SAXX’s “ball-park” technology which guaranteed chafe-free days, which for hiking is essential. For women, the Icebreaker Siren Bikini bottoms are the go-to. Using lightweight merino wool these underwear are incredibly soft, moisture-wicking, and so light you’ll forget you’re wearing underwear!!


Shop Icebreaker


Healthy snacks for your desk
Probably everyone’s favourite essential is hiking snacks! This is an incredibly personal essential! We have seen it all from baked potatoes to fried tofu to fruit pastilles! Whatever your trail snack is make sure you have it with you!

Hiking poles

There is a common misconception that hiking poles are only for a certain age demographic. However, hiking poles are well and truly for everyone. The fact is hiking with hiking poles reduces the impact on your knees by up to 10%. This means you can cover 10% more distance and feel the same level of fatigue as you would hiking without hiking poles! Over the past few months hiking poles have been difficult to get your hands on due to supply chain issues. However, shops now seem to be getting stock of a range of brands.

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Knowledge of your route

Lough Brays map Kippure Route 9km
Knowing where you are going and how long it will take you are definitely essential for hiking. We have heaps of articles that will help you decide on what hike to tackle! Here are some of our favorites:

Top 51 hikes in Ireland 

9 of the best hikes in the Mourne Mountains

7 of the Best Hikes Near Dublin


Organization is the key to success. This is definitely the case when it comes to packing your backpack for a hike. We would highly recommend getting an assortment of dry bags with which to organize your gear. Not only will dry bags keep your gear organized but they will also keep them dry. And having a “dirty” dry bag for your boots and dirty clothes when you get back to the car will keep the “mountain smells” from spreading everywhere!

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A hiking backpack

Exercises for Beginner Hikers

Of course, you need a hiking backpack to carry all your gear in. We would recommend looking at something in the 18-28L range for summertime day hikes.  Consider the Osprey TempestDeuter Futura SL from Great Outdoors

Shop Osprey 

Shop Deuter

Essentials to have at the end of your hike:

Microfiber towel

One of the favorite hike tips of Outsider Killian (@killohikes) is to finish your hike beside the sea. Or at the very least a lake or river so that you can take a dip once you get off the hills! Having a microfibre changing towel in your car will help to dry you off post-dip!

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Change of socks

Hiking socks: 6 of the Best
Image: Icebreaker

Regardless of whether you take a dip after your hike being able to change into a clean pair of socks will not only feel great but is more hygienic and healthy for your feet! Bonus points if you use one of Nuasan Active Body Wipes to clean your feet before putting them into clean socks! We would

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Sliders or comfy shoes

Even the most comfortable hiking footwear will need to be replaced with some slider or comfy shoes after a hard day on the hills. Outsider Matthew (@mrmattmcc) has been using the Hoka Ora Sliders the past few weeks after long trail days and thinks they are the answer to the sore legs people experience after hard hikes, “I’ve been using the aura slider for about a month now they are my go-to footwear option for day to day wandering around the house, especially after hard days on the trails”

Shop Hoka Ora Slider

Nuasan recovery products

Nuasan Active CBD Muscle Gel and Active Body Moisturizer are both great things to have in the car after a long hike. These products are designed to speed up your recovery and ease sore muscles.

Shop Nuasan

Supporting a local pub, café, or restaurant

We would highly recommend giving your custom to businesses that are local to where you are hiking! There are often hidden gems that are worth finding. If you are in search of the best cup of coffee in an area check out this specialty coffee map of Ireland. It has tagged all of the most visited cafes for coffee lovers!

Irish Café Map






By Matthew McConnell

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