July 18, 2018

Day Hike Gear List: What to bring on a day hike :: hiking. camping. outdoors.

If you’re just starting to plan on making day hikes a regular occurrence or you’re planning on including hiking as a part of your next vacation, here are some things to keep in mind so your day hike won’t leave you feeling miserable!


So, what to bring for a day hike?

Coming up is a list of things you should REALLY take on your next day hike.


A hydration pack like this one can make it super easy to stay hydrated on the trail.

It’s important to drink water whether your hike is one hour or four hours.

And this means it’s important to make sure you are carrying enough water to sustain you throughout the entirety of your hike, and then some.

And the hotter it is outside, the more important staying properly hydrated becomes.

Even if you’re hiking in cold weather, it’s important to pack along enough water.

You are still exerting yourself, and you are still sweating although you may not feel it so much. You need to replace the water you’re losing so you can keep on trekking strong.

Finding a hiking backpack with a hydration pack can be a convenient way of carrying and drinking water.

If you’re going for a shorter day hike on a cooler day, you may be feeling like you really don’t want to carry anything on your hike.

Okay, but at the very least, make sure you have a supply of water in your car, like a water bottle or two!

Here’s what the situation would be if you don’t have any water on your hike or in your car on a shorter day hike that lasts an hour.

Let’s say you drive a half an hour to the trails, hike for an hour, and then drive a half an hour back.

With a scenario of drinking water immediately before you left home, and drinking water immediately after you get back home, that is over 2 hours without any water, during which time you’ve worked out for an hour.

Not ideal!

So bring that water no matter the length of your hike, and drink up! 🙂

Side note!
If you'll be snorkeling on your next vacation, consider wearing these types of UV swim shirts. Also see about what to pack for Hawaii for hiking, snorkeling, and more essentials! And for Hawaii vacation ideas, see the best things to do in Oahu that will give you Hawaii vibes!


It is always better to carry extra snacks with you in the case of an emergency. So pack more than you think you need!

You don’t want to underestimate the amount of food you need and end up with a lack of energy on the trails with no food to eat. That would be BAD!

If you start to feel a real lack of energy, even a seemingly short distance of a mile back to the trailhead, your campsite, or car can feel like a real struggle.

You don’t want to experience that! It’s amazing what a few hundred calories can do for your energy level when you’re feeling so energy-drained that you don’t think you can make it back.

A little bit of food can make you feel totally re-energized!

Especially if you are new to hiking, you may not yet know how much food your body needs on the trails to keep going strong.

If your hike is more than an hour long, you should consider packing along snacks.

If your hike is less than an hour in cooler temperatures, similar to the water situation, have some food waiting for you in the car or back at camp if you won’t be carrying along a daypack.

If you will be carrying a daypack or small backpack, bring along those snacks!

You can make your own hiking snacks or buy some pre-packaged snacks that make good hiking food for the trail like energy bars and trail mix.

Sun protection

Unless you know with absolute certainty that the trail you’re hiking is completely shaded on a tree-lined trail, it’s a good idea to protect yourself from the sun.

Some trails will see more sun than others, and if you’re not sure if the trail is completely shaded or not, pack a travel-sized bottle of sunscreen just in case.

Wearing a wide-brimmed hiking hat like this one that covers your ears can provide adequate protection for your face without having to worry about your ears being exposed to too much sun.

Whether you go for this kind of hat, a standard baseball cap, or a visor, opt for one that is made with breathable material so it won’t trap heat unnecessarily on your head and so your head won’t be drenched in sweat.

Bug spray

If you’re embarking on a hiking trail that you’ve never been on to know what the bug situation is like, then bug spray is a good thing to pack along as a back-up.

Bugs can be annoying to deal with, and you never know when you’ll hit a buggy patch.

The hotter it is outside or the more tropical your hiking conditions, the more you’ll want to make this a priority.

If you look at the trail map and see that the trail goes alongside a marsh area, that probably also increases the chances of encountering more bugs.

If you are hiking shortly after it stops raining, that can also increase your chances of a buggy hike.

If you keep reading about how the trail you’re considering tends to have muddy patches here and there, that may also be an indication of a possibly bug-filled trail.

If you’ll be sitting for a picnic in a bug-filled area on your trail, take a look at this portable bug repellent device.

Phone charger

Having the GPS on your phone on during your hike may suck up your battery life quicker than in your everyday life.

This is likely to be especially true if you’re on a more remote hiking trail.

So if you’ll be using an app that uses GPS, or if you’ll be taking lots of pictures on your phone during your hike, having a portable charging device for your phone could be useful so you don’t have to worry about ending up with a dead phone.

Take a look at this mini portable phone charger!

First aid kit

Once again, you just never know what’s going to happen outdoors! So it’s better to be prepared than it is to be unprepared!

Whether it’s scrapping together a few first aid supplies you have laying around your home and putting them into a ziplock bag, or it’s buying a pre-made outdoor travel kit like this ultralight first aid kit, it’s best to be prepared for the unlikely scenario that you do encounter some unfortunate experiences.

Of course you always hope that you will never have to use the first aid kit that you pack, but if the time comes that you do need some first aid supplies, it will prove to be very useful!

Trail shoes

What shoes to wear hiking:

Now, for one of the most important things on what to wear hiking (among many important things ;)) is your footwear!

Once you start planning on hiking regularly, even if those hikes are weekly one hour hikes, you want to look into getting proper footwear.

If you’re buying trail shoes for the first time, it’s best to buy shoes in person instead of online.

You want to have the chance to try them on and walk around in them so you can gauge their comfort.

If there’s a running specialty store nearby where you live, try heading there to buy your shoes.

The focus may be running, but employees of running specialty stores typically are experts in feet and experts in shoes!

Running stores also sell a few models of trail running shoes, which are designed to give you more traction and support than standard road running shoes, and they may also sell a few models of walking shoes designed for the trails.

If you have an REI store near you, that is also a good place to go to since REI specializes in hiking, along with other outdoor sports.

You can also find free classes at REI that can include backpacking basics, snowshoeing basics, winter camping basics, and more! These are one-day classes that last 1-2 hours.

Trail shoes are expensive, yes, but consider the following potential scenarios in wearing just any old cheap pair of shoes:

  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes or shoes that don’t support your feet and ends with you getting an injury.
  • Wearing shoes that are low quality and lack durability that wear down quickly… which then results in injury. (And having to buy another pair of shoes!)

Think of an investment in hiking as an investment in your health and an investment in the longevity in your quality of life!

You can pretty much apply this to all hiking gear. 🙂

Good excuse when you’re thinking about whether or not to buy that Garmin for hiking. 😉

Also remember, don’t go out for a long hike in new shoes!

You want to break them in through shorter hikes or wearing them as your casual shoes for a little while first.

If you’re new to buying trail-specific shoes, have a look at reviews on Amazon for trail running shoes and hiking shoes to give you an idea of what type of things to look for.

By reading the comments of what people like and don’t like about any particular pair of shoes, it can help you determine what to consider and things to keep in mind during your search.

You may also want to take a look at some hiking sandals!

And once you’ve got hiking shoes that work for you, you can use the same method as running shoes to save money when you replace your shoes!


Here are more tips on what to wear when you go hiking!


One more thing: Also consider that hiking poles may be an essential if your trails have a lot of hills! Here’s why you might want to use trekking poles.


As a recap, here’s the quick list of hiking gear listed above for your day hike

And carry it all in a small backpack like one of these!


Give it a look! Hiking gear for you to check out!

Affiliate links on this page take you to Amazon for your browsing fun!

Teton Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Backpack – This is a backpack + hydration pack in one that comes with a rain cover!
Osprey Tempest 9 Backpack – There is a pocket sleeve designed for a hydration pack on the back side, along with a back side that’s more breathable for your back. This daypack is also useful if you like to bike around town too because it comes with a feature that you can clip in your bike helmet!
Osprey Daylite Plus Daypack – For a little extra storage space than the first two backpacks is this backpack that also comes with lots of pockets for you to conveniently stash and grab small items!

Insulated stainless steel water bottle – It’s a bit on the pricey side for a water bottle and will add a little bit of extra weight to your hiking backpack, but it’ll keep your cold drinks cold when hiking in hot weather and warm drinks warm when hiking in cold weather!
Collapsible water bottle – If you’re hiking on vacation, this makes it convenient to pack in your suitcase without taking up a ton of space since you can roll it up when there’s no water in it.
Water filter squeeze – There’s a picture demo here of how it works. This water filtration system is trusted by thru-hikers and long distance backpackers, and it is liked for the faster flow rate compared to its popular mini counterpart.

Cool mint chocolate energy bars – Best flavor ever! And it contains organic rolled oats and green tea. The marketing sounds good, right? 😉 Find it at your grocery store for $1 to give it a taste!
DIY hiking snacks – Experiment away to make your own trail mix and energy snacks for the trail!
Pocket blanket – A pocket blanket is just as it sounds. It’s a blanket that can fold up into the size of the palm of your hand! These types of blankets tend to be durable and easy to fold up. They are convenient to pack in your backpack so you can stop for a snack break or picnic break almost anywhere without having to search for the next bench on the trail or worry about getting yourself dirty when you sit on the ground!

First Aid Kit
Ultralight waterproof travel first aid kit

Sun protection
Hiking hat

Insect repellent
No-spray mosquito repellent wristband
Insect repellent wipes
Bug spray travel-size
Portable mosquito repellent device

Phone charger
Portable phone charger


what to wear on a hike | why use trekking poles | hiking tips for beginnershawaii hiking trails | michigan hiking trails | ohio hiking trails


There are affiliate links on this page. Among other partners, as an Amazon Associate, I may receive a commission.

Best shoes for your active vacation

Hit search at the top for any of these items to get more variety on Amazon through these affiliate links!
- Walking: These types of hiking sandals. For walking in hot weather, they are more breathable than shoes, while still giving you necessary traction on the trails. Also see more about the best shoes for hiking in Hawaii.
- Beach: These types of beach shoes. For beach walking, wading in the water, and rocky shorelines, they can prevent cuts from hidden rocks or when bumping into coral reef.

Swimwear for snorkeling and beach

- These UV protection shirts are a hit so you don't have to keep re-applying sunscreen and don't have to worry as much about getting sunburn!

see more:
- What to wear hiking
- What to wear snorkeling