Our incessant quest for immediately available information has resulted in the development of some pretty cool hiking gadgets to suit a plethora of modern needs while we’re traveling through the backcountry.
Of course, our basic hiking gear needs still remain — a lighting source, water purification, and instruments for navigation.
But now we have products that easily meet these needs in addition to being lightweight and durable enough to handle nature’s most unpredictable moods.
The outdoors has become the playing field for a new high-tech era of hiking gear.
UPDATE JAN. 2019:
Recently GoPro released the Hero7 Black and I highly suggest you give it a look for your hiking videos. The biggest improvement is the addition of 4k video stabilization. My only gripe with our Hero5 Black is the shaky 4k video output so I end up recording in 2.7k instead - which is still amazing quality but let's be honest, it's not 4k.
Yes, this can be minimized with a gimbal but that is a pricey added cost that you shouldn't have to incur to get great quality video. You can get the GoPro Hero7 Black on Amazon and happily record your trail adventures in 4k from here on out!
Let’s take a look at some of best hiking gadgets of 2019 so that you can hit the trails with everything you need — plus a few things to enhance your experience, making it memorable for years to come.
Never be left without power — because you never know when you might need it.
Whether you need to recharge your phone, camera, or light source, the Goal Zero Venture 30 (via Amazon) is the perfect day hiker’s companion.
Featuring an IPX6 weatherproof rating, it can withstand heavy sprays of water and is completely dust proof.
The Goal Zero Venture 30 was made for life in the backcountry.
The product includes two USB ports for charging up to two devices simultaneously including phones, video recording devices, tablets, and headlamps — and charges them at the same rate as a wall charger.
The product features 7800mAh battery capacity and can charge your headlamp 5-10 times or your smartphone 2-2.5 times in a single cycle.
It weighs just 8.8 ounces — light enough to take on any expedition.
The Venture 30 can be recharged via USB or solar panel, sold separately on Amazon.
Bringing along your own water filtration system has huge advantages.
You don’t have to carry as much water and can drink from the sources you encounter along the way — including streams and rivers.
The Sawyer mini (via Amazon) is both lightweight and versatile, weighing in at just two ounces.
It features a 0.1 micron filtration system, which filters 99.99% of all bacteria and protozoa so you can be assured the water you’re drinking is safe for consumption.
The system is rated to filter up to 100,000 gallons and includes its own drinking patch and straw.
Prefer to use your own hydration system?
The Sawyer Mini matches the thread on standard water bottles and can also be connected to hydration pack tubing.
Make sure to read what other hikers think about it...
If you dislike the idea of carrying around ton of individual objects, the Leatherman Wingman (via Amazon) is the perfect solution.
This pocket-sized product provides for 14 tools in one, including pliers, scissors, a can opener, bottle opener, and a combo knife — all of which could come in handy on a hike.
Whether you need to open a can of beans, slice up an apple, or fix a piece of gear, the Wingman has the tool you need to get the job done.
Its stainless steel construction ensures it will hold up in the backcountry and be able to withstand typical trail abuse.
I have used a Leatherman for decades dating back to my days on the farm and one thing I can attest to - they last!
Make sure to read what other users think...
A compass is a backcountry essential — whether you’re setting out on a day hike or a weeklong expedition.
You’re going to want something reliable, durable, and compact.
The Suunto MC-2 (via Amazon) is professional and military grade, boasting top-of-the-line features for precise directional measurements.
The display shows direction in mils and a 20 degree tilt margin allows for easier reading.
The capsule is liquid filled for optimum operation and the product includes luminescent markings for working in low light. USGS UTM scales are utilized.
The Suunto MC-2 comes with a lanyard for easy transport and yet is also detachable for when you need to coordinate your compass with a map.
Read user reviews on Amazon...
GPS navigation systems are one of the most popular technology advancements to infiltrate the outdoor industry.
Leave your map behind and navigate the backcountry from your wrist with Garmin’s Foretrex 401(via Amazon).
This product includes a built-in electronic compass and barometric altimeter.
Its compact and lightweight design makes for ideal use on hiking trips.
The watch’s stand-out features include water resistance and a built-in memory system that keeps track of your path, allowing you to retrace your steps using the TracBack navigation feature.
The watch includes a trip computer, a storage database for your favorite routes, accurate times for sunrise/sunset, and even hunting and fishing information.
Bonus feature? The Foretrex 401 allows you to connect to wireless accessories like heart rate monitors and cadence trackers.
This watch has a battery life that lasts up to 17 hours in navigation mode — perfect for a day hike, but you’re going to want to bring extra AAA batteries on an overnighter.
Is a gps watch not your thing? Then make sure to check out some of the best handheld gps for hiking available.
Don’t get caught out in the dark — whether you’re setting out on an early morning hike, plan on finishing later in the evening, or just in case of an emergency, it’s ideal to bring along a headlamp and the Three Trees USB Rechargeable LED Headlamp (via Amazon) is an ideal choice.
Headlamps are easily the most efficient source of lighting in the backcountry, being both hands free and compact for packing.
This LED headlamp is weatherproof, with an IPX4 waterproof rating, and comfortable — so you don’t have to worry about the elements around you and can wear it for extended periods of time if necessary.
Unlike many headlamps on the market, this product is USB rechargeable, which means you don’t have to carry around extra batteries — it pairs perfectly with a battery pack.
This headlamp tilts up to 60 degrees, allowing you to adjust the light where you need it most.
Want more choices? We take a look at the best headlamps for hiking to help you light the way.
If you want to relive those perfect moments out on the trail and capture picturesque landscapes on camera, the GoPro Hero 5 Black is the ultimate adventure companion.
The camera provides for impressive 4K video and 12 mega pixel photos in single, burst, or time lapse modes and stable, shake-free filming.
You can even fine-tune the exposure settings.
The Hero 5 is completely waterproof to 33 meters in depth — making it ideal for backcountry expeditions.
This model includes a mount for hands-free filming or you can purchase a head strap and wear it on your head.
It is small and compact, making for easy transport on the trail.
The 2-inch display lets you check out your shots with ease and a simple interface allows you to trim videos and quickly adjust settings.
The battery is rechargeable, making a battery pack an ideal compliment, or you have the option to purchase an extra battery.
This is another of my personal choices and as Ashley snaps pics with her Canon dslr I'm making sure to capture everything I can with our GoPro!
Still not sure? Go read what other users have to say on Amazon...
Water resistance is a huge consideration when you’re out on the trail.
Mother nature is unpredictable — and rain or thunderstorms can strike at any moment, depending on where you are in the world.
It’s worthwhile to check weather forecasts in advance and become familiar with the climate through which you’re hiking.
Take into consideration any river crossings you might encounter along the way.
You also need the proper accessories to contain your products, especially when it comes to electronics.
For example, rainfall can be devastating if you don’t have a waterproof case for your camera.
As you plan your hike take into consideration if the gear you choose is water resistant or even water proof and then decide what kinds of accessories you might need to purchase.
The IPX scale provides weatherproof ratings used by many manufacturers.
IPX ratings range from IPX-0 to IPX-8, with IPX-0 providing no water or dust protection and IPX-8 allowing you to completely submerge an object in water for a specified amount of time at a certain depth.
Anything IPX-6 or higher provides complete protection from dust.
The best outdoor gadgets need to be rugged enough to withstand rough conditions, including dirt, dust, and moisture.
Most of the time your gadgets will be stuffed away in some deep, dark crevice of your backpack — so they need to be able to handle the typical clanging and banging corresponding to your movement down the trail, scrambling over boulders, or bushwhacking through the undergrowth.
In general, if a gadget is built specifically for the outdoors it was probably developed to certain trail standards — but it’s important to look at a product’s construction to ensure its durability.
The whole point of an outdoor gadget is that it serves to assist or enhance your backcountry experience.
Whether it’s designed for navigation, water filtration, or to help with a physical task, a gadget should have a purpose.
When you’re packing for a hiking trip, consider each object’s functionality.
You could ask yourself: When am I planning on using this?
It could be helpful to break down gear into separate categories, such as for daily use, occasional use, or for emergency purposes only.
Don’t bring along something you’re not going to use, because then you’re just wasting precious space in your backpack.
On the same note, don’t leave behind something you might need if conditions take a turn for the worse.
Imagine day hiking through a lush forest, carrying a single water bottle, and refilling it using your water filtration system at various streams along the way.
You look down at your GPS watch and navigate your way back to the main trail — no map needed.
It’s your son or daughter’s first hike and you’ve captured the best moments on camera with your GoPro.
Whether you prefer strolling through the woods or hiking up a mountain, some outdoor gadgets meet our essential needs while others enhance our experience.
The most important things to consider are durability, weather resistance, and functionality.
Luckily, we’ve done the research for you — and you can be assured the gadgets we’ve picked to round out your hiking gear accessories will hold their own, come rain or shine.
Have you tried any of these or any you would add to the list?
Let us know in the comments!
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Andrew's love for the outdoors began at an early age growing up in the midwest farmland and taking family vacations out west. Being a dreamer with his head in the clouds most moments make the mountains the perfect location for him. He hasn't met a false summit he doesn't like yet!
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