Heading out for a day hike can be a delightful way to explore nature with your friends and family, or even in the solitude of yourself. Whether you feel the urge to venture deep into the mountains or simply cover hiking spots closer to home, there are several places to explore.
But to determine what you need to carry on a day hike can be a daunting task, especially for beginners. You need to think about the location for your hike, how far you plan to venture, and be aware of the weather forecast.
This handy guide for beginners however, will help you in planning your day hike in a seamless manner, before you head out.Read More Read Less
Essentials to carry
- Hiking backpack:
A primary gear requirement for a day hike. For short, simple hikes, choose a backpack that can hold 11–20 liters of gear and for longer, more challenging treks a bigger backpack that can carry more food, water, clothing and gear is more appropriate.
- Weather-appropriate clothing:
Make sure to dress according to the weather forecast for the day, and always be prepared for fluctuating weather or an unplanned overnight hike. This means packing extra clothes beyond the minimum requirement. The clothes you choose to carry must also be easy to layer, have moisture-wicking quality, and provide protection against the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
If conditions are predicted to turn wet, windy or chilly, carry options like a layer of underwear (tops and bottoms), extra socks and gloves, a synthetic jacket or vest, and an insulating hat.
- Hiking boots or shoes:
Footwear can be determined based on the terrain. for instance, hiking shoes or trail runners can be sufficient for gentle hikes on smooth trails, but for treks on rocky or rugged trails, boots can provide more support, so choose wisely!
- Plenty of food and water:
Pack food that is light to carry, doesn’t require cooking, has a long shelf life, and is convenient to eat during the trail. This can include energy bars, nuts, dried fruits or trail mix, or even a sandwich for lunch. Always carry beyond the minimum expectation in case of an unplanned overnight hike.
For hydration, you can usually start with two liters of water per person for the day, but the quantity can be adjusted depending on the length and intensity of the hike, weather conditions, age, sweat rate, and body type.
- Gear for sun protection:
This will include sunglasses, sun-protective clothes, brimmed hat, sunscreen, and SPF-rated lip balm (optional)
- A map, GPS device or compass for navigation:
Navigation gear is one of the crucial essentials for hiking and the type of excursion you’re planning to take, and your personal preferences will determine exactly which items you will be more comfortable using.
- Health and hygiene kit:
This will include supplies like first-aid kit, insect repellant, prescription medication, hand sanitizer, quick-dry towel, Alcohol or antiseptic wipes, toilet paper, and menstrual products
A first-aid kit is vital to carry on a hike but it’s more important to know how to use the items in it. While pre-assembled kits can be more convenient, building your own kit can be more personalized to suit individual needs. Any first-aid kit should include bandages of various sizes, gauze pads, adhesive tape, Nitrile gloves, pain medication, disinfecting ointment, treatments for blisters, pen and paper.
- Tools and repair objects:
Knives are multipurpose, making them an essential for every hiking trip. Knives can come handy for gear repair, food preparation, first aid, or any given emergency needs. It's also good practice to carry a compact guide on dealing with medical emergencies.Meanwhile, a gear-repair kit must include common items like duct tape, zip ties, cords, fabric repair tape, safety pins and repair parts for tent poles, sleeping pad, and stove.
Always remember to carry emergency shelter for protection against unpredictable wind and rain showers, or in case you get injured or are left stranded on your trail. You can either carry a bivy sack, an ultralight tarp, or an emergency space blanket that takes very less space in the bag yet weighs just ounces.
- Personal items:
Credit card or cash, ID, cellphone, and camera (optional)
- Headlamp with extra batteries
Always carry your own light source with you, to find your way through the wilderness at night. A headlamp is the preferred choice as it keeps the hands free for all types of hiking tasks, but do not forget to carry extra batteries.
- Matches, lighter, stove
Always carry reliable supplies for starting and maintaining a fire. You can choose to carry either a disposable butane lighter, waterproof matches or Firestarter that can jump-start a fire and is essential in wet conditions.
Printer-friendly PDF: Before your hike, print out the PDF version of our handy HIKING CHECKLIST to make sure you don’t forget anything. Happy hiking!