Experts Roundup – What’s the no.1 tool for your hikes?

Hi Guys and welcome to another inspiring Experts Roundup.

This one is for all HIKERS out there.

I invited the most appreciated hikers and this is the question I asked:

What’s the no.1 tool for your hikes?

…and here is what they said:
tgomagazineJames Reader from

Facebook and Twitter

We reviewed multi tools last year and concluded the best on the market is Coast’s LED155 Pro Pocket Pliers, and for single-blade knives the best is Buck’s Flashpoint.


Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend from

Facebook and Twitter

I like a few multitools.

Which is best depends on the time of year, the location and the activity. For most hiking and backpacking a tiny ultralight tool is all, I need such as the Leatherman Style CS or the SAK Classic Executive.

With both these tools I find the scissors the most useful item. If I’m likely to be lighting fires, whether in the open or in a wood-burning stove, a longer blade is useful so then I also carry a Tool Logic SLR, which also has a fire steel in the handle.

In winter conditions when I’m likely to have gear with me that is more difficult to adjust or repair- skis or snowshoes and crampons – I carry a heavier tool, the Leatherman Fuse which has more functions and is stronger than the lighter ones.


Jeff ClarkJeff Clark from

Facebook and Twitter

Without question, the most important tool for me is my pack. I have three different sized packs that I can choose from depending upon the length and
duration of the hike, and the need to carry other important essentials with me.

My packs make carrying food and water a lot easier than filling up pockets,and I can keep rain gear and warm/dry clothing in there if necessary.

I look for a pack that has handy zippered pockets to make my compass, snacks, and bear spray easily accessible. Two of my three packs are setup to hold a hydration system bladder, and the other “fanny pack” has room for (2) half-liter bottles.

There are plenty of other items I always have with me for safety, first-aid and survival, but it all starts with a pack. Don’t leave home without it.

Jake BramanteJake Bramante from


I wouldn’t say that I have a number 1 tool per se. The obvious answer would be a knife or some other fundamental tool that can create other tools, shelter, etc.

I’m going to go a bit lofty here and say, preparation. Knowing where you’re heading, what the environment is, if you’ll be on trails or off trail, insects, etc.

Seeing someone hike to a lookout in the middle of summer where they don’t have any water and no rain jacket while storm clouds are building stresses me out (all the while being concerned about bears).

In Glacier National Park, I always have a rain jacket, gloves and a hat with me. Most of the time, we’re not moving into “survival mode” when we’re out in the backcountry.

The times that we are, can often be avoided if we would have just been prepared with the right equipment or would have turned around and hiked tomorrow.


Hiking DudeHiking Dude from

Facebook and Twitter

Physical, mental, equipment, and logistics preparation are the keys to successful long hikes. If you fail in any of those areas, things go bad quickly. Focusing on the equipment part, having access to clean drinking water is the most important thing. For that reason, my Sawyer Squeeze water filter is extremely important.

I like my water to look clear and taste clean which chemicals, UV light, and boiling don’t accomplish. The Squeeze filter has made drinking water access simple and fast, unlike previous heavy filters that break, clog, and slow down.

Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnson from


I’m a confessed over-packer, so it’s tough for me to pick just one tool that is most important.

But thinking about what I use every trip, it would have to be my first aid kit.

When you’re hiking with kids, it never fails that someone needs a bandage, some moleskin, or needs a sliver dug out.

I have a little over-the counter first aid pouch to which I added some of my own items, such as blister care and child-specific medications.

I also tucked in a tiny Leatherman Micra. This kit is small enough it goes along on nature walks in town as well as longer dayhikes and overnights.

I also took a Wilderness First Aid Course, so I would feel more confident in the backcountry.


Chad PoindexterChad Poindexter from

Facebook and Twitter

In my opinion, the “no. 1 tool for hikes” (for anyone) is the tool between their ears.

Before anyone steps out for a hike, a backpacking trip, or anything in which they will be away from immediate help, one should take the time to learn about what they are getting themselves into.

Look at maps, at weather forecasts, and how much use the area gets.

Know what it is that one needs to carry with them into the backcountry, and make sure that you are familiar with how to use it, and even to what extent the item can be used to.

As well, one should take into consideration their own personal self, and stay within their own limits.

With the proper research, one will have the knowledge to make the best of just about any situation thrown at them, and are more likely not to get into any sort of situation to begin with.


Eric BeanEric Bean from


My number one tool for day hikes are Leki trekking poles. They help make hiking trails much more efficient and safe. Whether hiking uphill, downhill or on flat ground, trekking poles are there to keep you upright as you navigate your way over rocks, roots and other obstacles.

If you happen to stumble, the poles help you regain balance, preventing possible injury. I also wrap duct tape near the bottom of each pole to use for any emergency, from blisters and open wounds to shoe and pack repair.

When hiking uphill, the use of trekking poles greatly increases endurance. They take some of the load off your legs, allowing you to go further using the same amount of effort (think of it as 2-wheel drive vs 4-wheel drive). A side benefit here is you actually burn more calories using trekking poles, because you are exercising more muscles.

When hiking downhill, trekking poles help prevent slipping and enable you to move faster. This is possible because as you lean into the poles a bit, the angle your feet make contact with the ground is increased and they are pushed into the slope for better traction.

When stepping down from boulders in the trail, your can plant the poles before jumping to ensure you don’t slip after landing.

The next favorite tool that I have with me 24×7 is a Gerber BG compact multi-tool. I use it daily for various tasks.

It’s great having it in my pocket ready to use when needed.


Mark KellyMark Kelly from


I don’t actually use a multitool as such but rely on an old swiss army knife I have. The longest I’m out is 3 days and even with wild camping, the various tools on the knife have covered all eventualities.

Having seen your site though I’m thinking I should address that and get one!


Jeff GreeneJeff Greene from

Facebook and Twiter

Well, I never go anywhere that doesn’t have a metal detector in front of it without my Gerber Fast Draw Folding Knife, but that goes for home, office, and the trail, so I’m not sure that counts as hiking gear for me.

After that, it gets very hard, because I’m an obsessive over-preparer, and I don’t hike anywhere other than the park across the street without my daypack, containing my first aid kit, a headlamp, a small rag/towel, water, Gatorade, camp toilet paper and hand sanitizer (for the wife), tissue, and a snack bag with jerky, nuts, granola, and dog treats.

If I’m anywhere out of town, it also has another ziplock with bug net, bug spray, hurricane lighter, compass, knee braces, space blanket, poison ivy/oak scrub, and a rain cover for my straw hat.

So if you let me cheat, I’m just going to say my daypack, but if not, and we spot me my knife that is always with me, and rule that water/Gatorade isn’t gear (because you HAVE to have liquid when hiking in SoCal, then I would have to go with my straw cowboy hat, because I’m pasty white and burn easily. 🙂


Ray AndersonRay Anderson from


A small Swiss Army knife.

My Swiss knife is bright red, therefore easy to see and/or find.

Mine is small, so it doesn’t take up room nor add much to overall pack weight.

And the sharp blade is good for all the things you expect a knife to do.

Rick McCharlesRick McCharles from


Oddly, in recent years I hike with one metal spoon. No other tools.

It’s been years since I even hiked with an Army Knife.


Ben HolianBen Holian from

Twitter and Facebook

Contrary to many of the responses, I don’t feel that a Knife is mandatory; I do always carry one, and it definitely has its place; but if I had to pack a single tool it would be a Map.

A Map a solid “tool” or item that gets use every time I go hiking; my knife might not make it out of its sheath, but I check a map every time. It reduces my work navigating considerably; and helps facilitate the whole reason I go hiking, which is to see the beauty the wilderness has to offer.

As a bonus, If I had to have a single tool for a survival situation i’d change it from a Map, it would be an SOS beacon, as much as its romantic to say I could survive with a knife and make my own way out (And heck I probably could); I could easily break my leg or get knocked unconscious, in these situations an SOS beacon outshines a knife pretty convincingly.

Comments (4)

Leave a Reply to Jeff Clark Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *