Is Your Car Ready For Summer Hiking Trips?

A little planning and forethought will prepare you, and your car, for a successful hiking trip to cross those bucket list destinations off your list.

Hiking Tips

Prepping your car is the first step.

Last year, I decided to get healthy and explore this beautiful country I live in. Hiking Glacier Park was top on my hiking trips list, but I knew I needed to prepare myself for a hike this big. I had no idea how many things needed to be done to prepare for the trip. And, I had to get my car ready, too!

There is more that goes into it than just changing the oil. Your car is not just transportation, it’s also storage and it may be your refuge. So the need to think ahead to all the possibilities is a key step for preparing for those bucket list hikes.

What You Need to Consider to Prep Your Car for a Hiking Trip

Since you’ll be off the beaten path you need to think of all the possibilities of where you’re going, what you’ll be doing and what the weather and terrain will be like. As you think through your trip, here are the realities you should prepare for:

Related: Is AAA worth it? Reasons to consider joining the auto club.

Successful Hiking Trips

Hiking gear ready to go in my trunk. Photo: Adeina Anderson

Pack Everything You’ll Need, With Accessibility Based On Priority 

Packing the vehicle is almost as important as what you bring. You want to be able to get to the necessary items when you need them, but how do you know what that will be? The first aid kit, your backpack, and your jackets and shoes should be first and foremost accessible at all times. Things that you don’t plan to use like blankets, candles and extra water can be packed away under the things you know you’ll need.

Get it: Car emergency kit

Hiking Trips

A snow selfie! Photo: Adeina Anderson

Must Haves To Have in the Car

  • First aid kit
  • Jumper cables or car battery charger (the latter is best)
  • Hand wipes and sanitizer
  • Hiking poles
  • Warming blanket
  • A gallon of water per person
  • Snacks, healthy and salty
  • Jackets for cool and very cold weather
  • Matches and candle
  • Kitty litter if you are going into snowy conditions
  • Extra shoes/socks/boots
  • Extra set of clothes

Get it: Snacks for the car

Things Not to Forget For a Successful Hiking Trip

My first trip out was a huge eye-opener. I researched what I would need on a hiking trip, but you really do need so much more then you think.

  • Baseball cap or winter hat
  • Comfortable clothes – this includes shoes, pants, shirts, socks, and underwear, trust me, it’s all very important
  • Bear spray – I hope you never have to use it, but always have it.
  • Bug repellent – you will want A LOT of this.
  • Sunscreen – get it and wear it all the time.
  • Hydration tablets – these are great for those hikes that are way longer then you thought they were.
  • Backpack – obviously you need this, and be sure to get a comfortable one that has a chest strap.
  • Hiking bladder – these actually help you stay hydrated by allowing you to drink water as you walk.

Get it: Bug spray and sunscreen to stow in the car

Prepare Your Vehicle For Successful Hiking Trips

Knowing where you are on the trail is key. Photo: Adeina Anderson

Avoid Getting Lost and Prepare for the Terrain

Always let someone know where you are. There are apps that can track your location and in the worst case, you should have friends who can track you on their phone so someone always knows where you are.

And know what to expect from the terrain and weather. Good shoes, and an extra pair shoes, are a must for any hike, but also be sure to have a jacket you can put on as it gets colder or wrap around your waist if it gets hot. A good hat is a plus to protect your head from the sun, and bugs.

Get it: All terrain shoes for any hike

Successful Hiking Trips

Dirty hands after making a repair in my car while hiking in Oregon.

You’re Going To Get Your Hands Dirty

Anything can happen on a road trip or hike. Of course, one hopes that it’s a fun and exciting excursion, but you never know when you will have to make some minor car repairs (like I did on my last trip). Hiking usually takes you into the woods, the mountains, or along the water, so there are a few must-haves. For example, always have a first aid kit. I cannot express this enough – it is so important. Here are some other things you’ll want to have in the car:

  • Basic tools
  • Spare tire, jack and wrench
  • Flashlight
  • A car battery charger
  • Air compressor
  • Tire patch kit

Get it: Car battery charger

Hiking Trips

With my best companion on a hike. Photo: Adeina Anderson

Remember To Have Fun

It’s kind of funny to think that people need to be reminded to be prepared when going on an adventure. But they do. Whether it is a short hike or a 10 day, 10 state trip like the one we took, make sure you have what you need. And if you’re prepared you’ll be ready to have fun. Happy Hiking!

Related: Travel trips for fur babies…so you don’t have to leave your best pals at home!  

With A Little Planning, You Can Prepare Your Car, And Yourself, For A Successful And Fun Hiking Trip This Summer!

For over a decade, lifestyle expert Adeina Anderson has been a nationally trusted source of information on travel tips,... More about Adeina Anderson