By Tom · Published Jan. 29th, 2022 · Updated Dec. 4th, 2022
We curated a list of hiking gear you may need or want for Singapore, suitable for the hot and humid climate, the sometimes heavy downpours and the many paved paths in this concrete jungle.
In the hot, humid climate of Singapore, it is best to wear airy, moisture wicking clothes, that also protect you from UV radiation. Generally, cotton is bad for hiking as it just absorbs a lot of your sweat and it doesn’t breath very well. Basically, either go for synthetics or thin wool clothes.
I am a big fan of Icebreaker merino wool tops. Despite the name, their thin woollen clothes work very well in hot weather. They are quite expensive, so maybe snap them up in a sale.
Icebreaker Men‘s Tech Lite Short-Sleeve Crew Shirt on Amazon*.
Icebreaker Women‘s Tech Lite Short Sleeve Shirt on Amazon*.
We have been hiking exclusively in shorts or skirts in Singapore. Some may prefer long trousers in areas with mosquitos, but we haven’t really felt the need for that and it would be overly hot. Some quick-drying synthetic hiking shorts with a few pockets are ideal, like
Little Donkey Andy Men‘s Stretch Quick Dry Cargo Shorts on Amazon*.
Little Donkey Andy Women‘s Lightweight Stretch Quick Dry Shorts on Amazon*.
For socks, again go for something synthetic or thin wool for the best moisture wicking, and avoid cotton. Considering the hot climate, short socks are preferable. For longer hikes you may want socks with good padding. I really like the padding of short no-show Balega socks:
Balega Blister Resist No Show Socks For Men and Women on Amazon*.
The majority of hikes in Singapore are on paved paths, so your hiking shoes need good damping. For hikes that are entirely on pavement (such as our Heritage Hikes around Kampong Glam and Little India), you may prefer to wear trainers with reasonable grip. For hikes on mixed terrain, go for airy, low hiking shoes with good damping but with no waterproofing. Gore-tex or other waterproofing layers are great in cold, wet countries, but unnecessary and overly hot in Singapore. We are both fans of Salomon. Their running shoes give you plenty of damping on paved paths:
Salomon Men‘s Sonic 4 Balance Running Shoes on Amazon*.
Salomon Women‘s Sonic 4 Balance W Running Shoes on Amazon*.
For gravel and dirt paths (such as those in Chestnut Nature Park or around MacRitchie Reservoir), the grip, comfort and breathability of the Salomon non Gore-Tex X Ultra series (so without GTX label) is great:
Salomon Men‘s X Ultra 3 Hiking Shoes on Amazon*.
Salomon Women‘s X Ultra 3 Hiking Shoes on Amazon*.
Shoes from Salomon do cater to a specific foot shape with a somewhat high arch and quite narrow width, so do try them on if you haven’t worn any Salomon shoes before. Most of their line fits quite similar.
You don’t need a very big backpack for hiking in Singapore. There is no need to carry many extra clothes, and you will basically use it only for food and drinks, rain jacket or umbrella, sunscreen, phone and wallet, and potentially a pair of binoculars or extra lenses for your camera. For the hikes near a beach, you may also want some space for swimming gear, a towel and a book. We often share a backpack between us. Any comfortable day pack suffices, like a great Osprey day pack:
Osprey Men’s Talon 22 Hiking Backpack on Amazon*.
I really like Osprey backpacks, and have a couple of them in different sizes. Their warranty policy is excellent and they have either sent me spare clips that have broken or repaired the zips of my big rucksack free of charge. The mesh construction of their back support keeps your back relatively dry, although that is not entirely possible in the humid climate of Singapore.
First and foremost, the sun in Singapore can be really strong, especially midday, so do use UV protective sunscreen like this SPF 30 Nivea Sun Lotion on Amazon*. On shorter hikes we just put on sunscreen before setting off and on longer ones or hikes that involve the beach we take the sunscreen with us.
Besides sunscreen, you can protect your face against the harsh sun with a sun hat. We always throw hats in our backpack, and use them regularly. Some hikes involve a lot of jungle, where a hat is not very useful, but once you get to the open sections you are happy to carry one along. I’ve got this airy sun hat from a great American outdoor brand called Outdoor Research:
Outdoor Research Swift Sun Hat on Amazon*.
You may prefer something with a wider brim, like:
Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat on Amazon*.
Of course, the best way to protect your eyes against the strong UV light in the middle of the day is a good (and cool looking) set of sunglasses. Anything will do as long as their UV protection is genuine. I have some Ray-Ban sunglasses like these:
Ray-Ban Classic Aviator Sunglasses on Amazon*.
Hiking in the Rain
Singapore has two monsoon periods, the Northeast Monsoon from December to early March, and the Southwest Monsoon from June to September. So basically you will need something for the inevitable rain year-round.
Unlike in most places, we prefer to carry an umbrella as wearing rain jackets in this hot and humid climate is not great and getting a little wet is not so bad in these temperatures. I’ve got a great storm-proof umbrella, which has an asymmetric shape that turns into the wind and can withstand high wind speeds:
Senz Umbrellas Automatic Passion Red on Amazon*.
Rain jackets are a good alternative if you don’t like umbrellas, as you do need something for the sometimes massive downpours. North Face makes great Gore-Tex rain jackets, which are especially great because you can pack them down to a very small size and so easily carry them everywhere:
North Face Men’s Rain Jacket on Amazon*.
If your backpack doesn’t come with a rain cover, get one like this*. Otherwise your electronics won’t survive Singapore’s sudden downpours.
Food and Drinks
We have two favourite snacks to take on hikes: Bananas and KIND Protein Bars. The bars come in different flavours, our favourites being peanut butter and dark chocolate.
KIND Protein Bars on Amazon*.
Please reuse your water bottles and don’t buy water from vending machines everywhere. There is enough plastic waste in the world already. Reusing the bottles you already have or buying a good quality bottle that you can use for years is definitely the way to go for your hike.
A long time ago I bought a couple of Nalgene 1-litre bottles, and they have survived a lot of heavy use while travelling and backcountry backpacking. I prefer them for that last activity since they often have a lot of volume and are pretty indestructible and thus reliable:
Nalgene Wide Mouth Water Bottle on Amazon*.
For day hikes, maybe you prefer something that is easier to drink and is a bit narrower to fit better in many backpacks side water holders, like the bottles from Camelbak.
CamelBak Eddy+ Water Bottle on Amazon*.
Although not my preference for hiking, when running longer runs, nothing beats a good hydration pack. Camelbak is known for great packs, but also for instance Salomon makes great lightweight packs. I have one with quite some pack volume (10 litres) to take stuff like swimming gear and a towel on a run, for a quick post-run dip in East Coast Park:
Salomon Trailblazer 10 on Amazon*.
While in Singapore you won’t need a warm drink to stay warm, having a cup of tea on a long hike is still rather pleasant. So sometimes we bring a Thermos flask with some English breakfast or Rooibos tea. They also work well to keep water cool, although thermos flasks are a bit heavier than normal water bottles. I have a pretty indestructible one from Camelbak:
CamelBak Chute Mag Vacuum Insulated on Amazon*.
While absolutely not necessary for hiking in Singapore, it is still nice to track your adventures with a GPS Watch. Back when I bought mine, my main requirements were long battery life, a precise pressure-based altimeter (to measure height) and a way to show routes. The Suunto Ambit3 peak fitted the bill perfectly back in 2017, and is still going strong. I didn’t buy it for Singapore but more for backcountry backpacking adventures, with nice features like track-back, showing you back the way you walked. Suunto has produced quite a few new models since, and currently their flagship is the Suunto 9 Peak or Baro. It is quite pricy but maybe one day if my Ambit3 dies I will consider it:
SUUNTO 9 Baro & Peak on Amazon*.
To see all the nice birds in Singapore up close, get a decent pair of binoculars. I have had a pair of Bresser binoculars* for over 20 years now and they are pretty indestructible and work well. Another well-reviewed pair on Amazon are these Celestrons:
Celestron Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars on Amazon*.
I’m a big fan of mirrorless cameras with replaceable lenses. I have a Sony NEX 6, which was one of the first mirrorless cameras from Sony back in 2013. Apart from the kit lens that came with the camera and a telezoom lens that I bought for safari, I bought some cheap second-hand but high-quality old lenses from the analogue era from brands like Nikon. With an adapter* you can use these on mirrorless cameras, giving you top quality for cheap.
My camera is getting near the end of its life, partly due to excessive rain in Scotland, and I will replace it at some point buy a current model from Sony, like the Sony Alpha A6500:
Sony Alpha A6500 Mirrorless Camera on Amazon*.
Of course, cameras with replaceable lenses and advanced features are not for everyone. We have recently been using a Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II, which still has some good features and excellent low-light performance, but no replaceable lenses:
Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II on Amazon*.