Many come to Israel to visit the holy city of Jerusalem, the enchanting Dead Sea, and the vibrant city of Tel Aviv. But believe me or not, Israel is also an excellent destination for hikers. Yes, it’s a small country, but the landscapes are so diverse, and the trails are well-maintained. There’s an endless number of trails. Most of them are day hikes, but some are also longer trails, ranging from about four days to two months long! If you love hiking and want to try it in Israel, here’s what you should pack for your hiking trip in the country.
If you’re visiting Israel not only for hiking, check out my ultimate packing list for Israel.
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Things to consider when packing for a long hiking trip in Israel
As I’ve already mentioned, Israel has some fantastic long hikes, including the Golan Trail, the Sea to Sea Trail, and, of course, the Israel National Trail. Here are some things to consider when packing for your hiking trip in Israel:
- Many – if not most – campsites are very basic. Compared to other places around the world, Israel doesn’t really have an organized list of campsites along each trail. You need to do a lot of homework to understand where you can camp. Furthermore, most campgrounds are very basic. This is, they don’t have facilities. No restroom, no drinking water, no showers, no electricity. In the north, you might find more campsites with water, but in the desert, you will most likely need water caching. This is important to note when packing because you need to be prepared for campsites without good conditions. Read more >> The basics of camping in Israel.
- You can’t always charge your phone. Sometimes, it can take days until you reach a gas station or a civilized place where you can charge your phone and electrical devices. So, if you plan to use your phone for navigation or documenting the trip, you’ll need to carry a portable power bank. Find portable power banks on Amazon. Just make sure it’s not TOO heavy!
- Many trails are exposed to the sun. And the Israeli sun is harsh! While some trails pass through forests and shaded areas, most routes are exposed. So, before you start packing, imagine a long section of hiking fully exposed to the sun. Imagine how you might feel, and pack accordingly.
- Still, remember that you’re not too far from civilization. If you need help, you can call the emergency numbers – 100 for the police and 101 for the medical service – and they’ll reach you as soon as possible, usually within half an hour, depending on your location.
Essential things to pack for long hikes in Israel
Here are some things you should definitely bring when hiking in Israel:
Comfortable hiking shoes
Make sure to pack good hiking shoes that support your feet and ankles. It’s best to buy the boots a few weeks in advance and walk with them a bit before the trip to ensure they fit your foot and avoid discomfort during the first days of the hike. I hiked with Scarpa’s ZG Lite GTX hiking shoes for women, and they were very comfortable. They were also quite waterproof, which was excellent!
You can read more about choosing a good hiking shoe in The Hiking Life’s footwear guide.
Of course, you can’t do long hikes without a backpack. Pick one that lies well on your back, doesn’t dig into your shoulders with weight, and is easy to organize. On my latest hikes, I used Osprey’s Aura AG 65 (for women), which I really loved. It was lightweight and had many pockets for storage.
Water bottles or hydration reservoirs
As I mentioned before, water is not always available. So, it’s best to carry at least 3 liters of water daily and in the desert – even more! I carried my water in two 1.5-liter reusable bottles, but some of my friends used a hydration reservoir. Drinking from the reservoir is easier because you don’t have to take the bottles out of your bag whenever you want to drink. But it’s more challenging to fill it.
First aid kit
It’s a MUST! My group got injured many times during our hikes. Luckily, it was nothing major. We used the first aid kit to cover minor injuries and treat blisters.
A good sleeping bag
The warmth of the sleeping bag depends on your hiking season and where you plan to hike. If you don’t have a sleeping bag yet, wait until about two weeks before the trip, check the expected weather, and then buy one accordingly. Consider that in springtime, the temperature can reach around 0 degrees Celsius at night in the desert.
Foldable foam mat
I think it’s the best mat out there. It’s very easy to fold and carry. Make sure it’s thick enough so you won’t feel the terrain beneath you. The terrain changes all the time in Israel. One night, you might sleep on a rocky surface, the other night on grass.
Rain protection gear
The best season for hiking in Israel is in the shoulder seasons, in the spring and the fall. In these seasons, it could rain during your hiking trip, and believe me, it’s not fun getting your things soaked while hiking or sleeping. So, it’s best to pack a rain cover for your backpack or a rain fly for your tent if you plan on using one.
I recommend cooking something warm in the evenings, like rice, pearl couscous (ptitim), or bulgur. To be able to cook those, you’ll need cooking equipment. Try to take the minimum amount of equipment you need for cooking outdoors.
The most important thing to bring is a small lightweight backpacking stove. We took Kovea’s spider stove. It’s very stable and easy to use, but it isn’t so lightweight.
The next thing you’ll need is a gas canister. It’s best to buy some canisters before starting the trip. Usually, you can get them at almost any travel gear shop. On the trails, it’s harder to find. I was hiking in a group of 5 people, and we used about one gas canister a week or a week and a half.
For cooking, you’ll need a lightweight cooking pot. We used a collapsible cooking pot, which was great because it didn’t take up a lot of space in our backpacks. It cooked everything perfectly. Just try not to burn the bottom too much! And make sure to choose the capacity you need in terms of liters. Our pot was 2.8 liters, and we were okay, but if you like to eat big portions or you’re traveling in a bigger group, you might need something larger or two pots.
Of course, don’t forget to bring some reusable eating utensils. I took a spork which I still use to this very day. And as a plate, I used a collapsible silicone camping dish. I wanted a dish that wasn’t completely flat, so I could put anything in it without being afraid that it would spill out.
While you can use your phone as a flashlight, it will just waste your battery. It’s better to bring a real flashlight instead, and even better – a headlamp. This way, you can light your way when you’re going to the “restroom” at night or when you’re cooking in the middle of nowhere. It’s very useful.
Bring toilet paper. If you want, you can also bring hand sanitizer, wipes for wiping your body once in a while, and, of course, remember to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste.
Sometimes, you need to clean your clothes on the go and reach a point with some water faucet, so it’s good to have a laundry bar with you. Don’t do laundry in natural water sources because that can harm nature!
When you hike in Israel, you’ll notice that, unfortunately, not all places are clean. But that doesn’t mean we need to litter as well. So, bring some trash bags with you and carry your waste until you see a trashcan.
It’s important to carry an ID in case something goes wrong.
Cash or credit card
You won’t need too much money, but it’s good to carry some for food and other essentials on the way. A credit card is also an option if you don’t want to take too much cash with you. However, consider that most places accept Google Pay.
What to wear?
What you wear depends greatly on the hiking season and the expected weather. But in general, here are some things I would recommend packing for your hiking trip in Israel:
- Breathable long-sleeved shirts. This way, you’re protected from the sun throughout the day. For a hike of a week or more, I would bring about two or three shirts. If you don’t bring log-sleeved shirts, I recommend bringing enough sunscreen!
- Quick dry zip-off hiking pants. There are places where you need to pass through water sources while hiking in Israel, so it’s best to have the option of zipping off half of the pants or drying off quickly. It’s also very lightweight and fun to hike with – at least for me. I would bring about two pants for a week or more of hiking. Find quick dry zip-off pants on Amazon.
- Layers for the night. The nights can get cool, so it’s best to bring a windproof jacket and warm clothes. And here’s a pro tip for getting warm: Sleep without clothes inside your sleeping bag. That’s the best way to let your body temperature warm you up without distractions.
- Moisture-wicking hiking socks. If you want to lower your chances of getting blisters and unpleasant foot problems, it’s important to choose good, cushioned hiking socks with moister-wicking features. And try taking your socks off a few times during the day. Find good hiking socks on Amazon.
- Wide brim hat. It’s usually sunny, so it’s best to protect your head as much as possible from the sun. I use the Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat (on Amazon). It’s not only wide brim but also covers the back of the neck.
- Sunglasses. UV is high. Don’t hike without sunglasses, else you’ll ruin your eyes.
The main trails in Israel are usually well-marked. This means you’ll see a trail mark with the trail color on a rock or a tree every few hundred meters. But it’s always good to navigate with some map. My hiking partners and I lost the trail several times and used a navigation app to get back on track.
Yes, I never used a paper map while hiking. It’s simply less accurate because sometimes the trail changes and the paper maps aren’t updated fast enough. That’s why I used Israel Hiking Map, which is almost always updated. I also used Amud Anan. It takes a lot of your battery, but if you’re hiking with a portable power bank or have other companions who can lend their phones, navigating with the navigation apps is much easier. In most places, you can locate yourself using the GPS feature and understand where to go if you’ve gotten off track.
If you prefer to navigate with paper maps, I recommend taking screenshots of the trail sections and printing them before the hike.
Some other things you might want to pack
- Insect repellent. Sometimes, you camp near water sources, and the insects aren’t fun. I was okay without it, but some of my hiking partners complained about the insects.
- Tent. Some take it, some don’t. Because the weather is usually mild, you can get along without a tent. The tent provides more privacy and protection from whatever is out there but also adds weight. We also prefer to leave the tent at home and sleep under the night sky in our sleeping bags. We’ve been doing that for over a month and haven’t had any dangerous situations. If you do choose to bring a tent, make sure to get a lightweight one!
- Hiking poles. It’s not a must, but it is definitely a plus. The hiking poles really helped me support myself throughout the hikes, but I had friends who hiked without them. If you choose to take hiking poles, make sure to choose ones with cork handles. It’s less sweaty.
- Sandals or flip-flops for the night. This way, you don’t have to be with your shoes all the time and can give your feet some rest.
- Multi-tool knife. This can always come in handy if you need to cut or fix something. However, we didn’t use one in any of our hikes. So, whatever you feel about it.
What to pack for day hikes in Israel?
Day hikes are much easier because you don’t have to carry too much on your back. You hike for a few hours, and that’s it. So, here’s what I would take for a day hike in Israel:
- A comfortable backpack.
- Comfortable hiking shoes.
- At least 2 liters of water per person. If you’re doing a long day hike or hiking in warm weather, I’d take at least 3 liters.
- Snacks or sandwiches.
- A map or a navigation app.
- Wide brim hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
If you’re looking for ideas for day hikes, read >> My Favorite Day Hikes in Israel.
Israel has lovely hiking trails all around the country. Whether you want to set off on a long hiking trip or just to try out some day hikes, I hope I helped you plan what to pack for your hiking trip in Israel.
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