Day Hike Checklist

Day hikes are a great way to experience the outdoors, get some exercise, and take some time away from the bustle of everyday life. Even though you are only going to be hiking for day, having the right hiking gear and equipment can make a huge difference. Below is a checklist of items you should consider taking with you if you plan on taking a day hike. For the sake of simplicity, this article is geared towards day hikes of 2 or more miles.

Osprey Daylite Pack1. A good backpack: There are all different types of hiking backpacks out there, but some are designed specially for the day hiker in mind. When choosing a backpack, you want to take a few things into consideration.

  • Size: The size of a hiking backpack is measured in liters. You don’t need too much in terms of size if you only plan on being out one day, but you do need a sufficient amount of space to bring water, food, and other supplies and equipment.
  • Space: Again, since you are only going to be gone for a day, you don’t need a ton of pockets and compartments, but you do need more than just one place to store all of your equipment.
  • Comfort: A backpack might seem like just a backpack, but when you are out hiking all day, comfort matters. Check to make sure your hiking backpack has padded straps, as well as side straps to keep the pack secure to your body. This will make a huge difference after you start hiking for a few minutes.

For day hikes, I really like the Osprey Daylite Backpack. It is lightweight and extremely comfortable. Outdoor Products also has a lot of awesome, inexpensive backpacks that you can find at your local Wal-Mart.

2. Plenty of water: I would suggest carrying at least two water bottles and some type of bladder as well. You can keep the water bottles in your backpack, but you are not going to want to stop and remove your pack each time you need something to drink. This is where the hydration bladder will come in handy. A lot of hiking backpacks come with a place for you to secure the bladder and run the rest of it through the front of your pack so you can drink water while you are hiking. These are not necessary, but they are relatively inexpensive, and they will make your hike much more enjoyable.

3. An appropriate amount food: If you plan on having a picnic up in the mountains, you will need to take the appropriate amount of food, but at the minimum, you want to make sure you have some trail mix or granola bars to give you some needed energy as you hike along the trail.

4. A good pair of hiking shoes or boots: If you are going to be walking several miles, your regular tennis shoes might leave you aching along the trail. Hiking shoes and hiking boots are designed specifically for the hiker (duh!). If you don’t hike very often, a good pair of trail shoes would be a good choice. However, if you plan on hiking often, it is wise to invest in a good pair of hiking boots. These will give you an amount of comfort and stability (they protect your ankles from “rolling”) that tennis shoes simply cannot do. Hiking shoes and boots are made to last, so investing in a good pair is great decision.

5. A first aid kit: This one is super important, and you can pick this up relatively cheap at Wal-Mart, Target, or any other sporting goods department.

6. Appropriate clothing: This really depends on the region in which you are hiking, so just be smart here. There are all types of fancy shirts out there that are designed to minimize sweat and moisture, but unless you are hiking in hot temperatures, you don’t really need anything more than normal shorts, pants, shirts, etc. Just make sure you wear something comfortable that gives you plenty of flexibility.

7. A cell phone (or some other type of communication device): Make sure you have some way to contact someone for help, especially if you are hiking alone.

8. A camera: This one is optional for some, but a must for me. I love to take pictures of places I’ve been. You never know what you are going to see out on the trail. I would recommend getting a nice point-and-shoot camera that you can carry in your pocket.

9. Flashlight: This might seem a bit contradictory considering the title of this article, but if you plan on covering some miles in new territory, you might just find yourself hiking back when the moon is out. Having a nice, lightweight flashlight can save you a lot of trouble.