Heading out for a day hike might not seem like it calls for much packing, but the truth is, in order to do it safely, you’re going to need a few things. We’ve come up with a handy packing list for day hikes that will help you stay hydrated, energized, and protected from the elements.
Ready to pack? Let’s get started!
Water is perhaps the most overlooked item on a packing list for a day hike, perhaps because it seems so obvious? A half gallon per adult per day is the recommended hydration level, and you’ll be expending a great deal more energy on a day hike. Be sure to bring a large enough bottle to get you through most or all of your hike.
First Aid Kit
Deep scrapes and cuts are at a higher risk of infection if left unattended to in the outdoors. A simple first aid kit can be assembled at home and made small enough to fit in a pocket. Make sure yours has bandages, antibiotic ointment, pain and sting relief, cotton pads, and gauze. Most superficial wounds can be dressed sufficiently with these simple items.
Overcast days are deceptive, as they can make you think sunscreen isn’t necessary. However, clouds have a great way of diffracting light, sending it in all directions even though you think the sun’s harmful rays are obscured. Don’t skimp on sunscreen whenever you’re enjoying the outdoors, and don’t forget to reapply regularly.
Depending on the location of your hiking destination, you may experience an onslaught of biting flies, mosquitoes, or ticks. Be prepared by spraying yourself down before the hike, and again as you make the return path home. Once you experience what insects are really like in the wilderness, you’ll never forget insect repellent again. Don’t make yourself learn that lesson the hard way.
Next to adequate water supplies, people often shortchange snacks on their packing list for a day hike. We’re not talking about potato chips and candy bars here — real, whole foods are what we’re looking for. Apples, oranges, wheat crackers, string cheese, jerky, and trail mix are all great options for keeping your energy stores replenished as you hike.
Cloudbursts are common in spring, summer, and fall in many regions of the country, and the sun can be relentless. Bring both a hat and a rain poncho so that you’re literally covered in case of an overload of either element.