What To Pack For Your Day Hike

Being outside in nature is therapy for the soul, clears the mind, challenges the body, and reduces stress.  These are just some of the benefits of hiking, so it is no wonder that this form of exercise is a favourite to many.

*Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

If you are a day hiking newbie, you might find it a little challenging knowing how to dress and what to pack for your day hike, so I have provided an outline of what to pack and what to wear to help you have the perfect day hike.

Clothing: What to Wear for A Day Hike

Determining what clothing is suitable for your day hike can be a daunting task and will depend on several things.  It is important to know your trail and to take the following factors into consideration:

  • what are the conditions of the trail?
    • flat
    • cliffs and slopes
    • will it be muddy
  • what are the weather conditions?
    • rain
    • hot
    • cold
  • what is the length of your day hike?
  • what is the difficulty level of the trail?
    • easy, moderate, difficult
    • flat terrain
    • rocky terrain
    • lots of hills and slopes
    • what is the elevation level
    • smooth or rocky

Best Footwear for Hiking

It is extremely important to have the proper footwear weather you are going on a day hike or going on a longer hike.  Water resistant hiking boots with a good grip and sturdy ankle support are highly recommended for many trails.  If you are the type of hiker that prefers a short leisurely stroll through the woods,  a good pair of sneakers will be sufficient.  At all costs, avoid flip flops and high heals.  These will not only be uncomfortable, they will not provide the protection and support that your feet will need on the trail.

It is important to wear the proper footwear for the trail you are hiking even for a day hike
It is important to wear the proper footwear when hiking

Socks For Hiking

The type of socks you wear hiking can make a difference and help to limit the possibility of developing blisters as well as provide the extra protection and cushion that your feet will need.  It is important to choose a pair of socks that have extra cushion on the ball and the heal of the sock.  Depending on the type of hike you are doing, you might want consider packing an extra pair of socks to take with you just in case you have to trek through a stream and you get wet.

Pants for Hiking

Loose fitting pants or leggings will allow you to be more comfortable and provide you with more flexibility during your hike.  When determining the pants you will need, don’t even consider wearing jeans.  They are not only heavy, they will also retain moisture, heat, or the cold.

Shirts for Hiking

When considering the appropriate shirt to wear, again it is important to know the trail.

  • for a short easy trail on a hot day, short sleeve shirts are sufficient
  • for a longer, more difficult hike with many obstacles, consider a long sleeve shirt to give your arms extra protection against the elements and and obstacles that you might encounter along the way

The type of shirt you choose is a matter of personal preference. There is no right or wrong shirt to wear.

Waterproof/Resistant Jacket

It is said that there is no such thing as bad weather for the die hard hiker, but it necessary to be prepared for acclimate weather.  Check the weather forecast for the day of your hike.  If there is any chance of rain in the forecast, pack a waterproof/resistant jacket.  You don’t want to be caught unprepared as this will make for a miserable day of hiking.


It is wise to bring along a hat with you on your day hike.  During the summer months, a hat will protect you from the sun.  During the winter months, a hat will keep you warm and help to keep the heat in your body.


It is obvious that you have a pair of gloves with you when hiking during the winter months, but I learned the hard way that it is equally important to have a pair of gloves when hiking during the summer months as well.  Gloves will help to protect your hands and provide a more secure grip if you encounter areas where a climb is necessary.  Weather hiking in summer or winter, I recommend a pair of Gore-Tex gloves, which will help to keep your hands dry.

When going on a hike, it is a good idea to take gortex gloves just in case you have to do some climbing
It is important to have a backpack for your day hike essentials

Backpack For Hiking

Even when going on a day hike, you will need a small backpack to carry some essential hiking items (which are listed below).  There is no need to rush out to purchase a backpack made specifically for hiking for only a day hike, but I do highly recommend a pack that has some cushion on the shoulder straps, as well as a waste band in order to eliminate some of the pressure on your back from the weight of your backpack.

PRO TIP: Pack each item in your backpack in a separate baggie to keep items dry and organized

Overview Of Clothing To Wear For A Day Hike

The clothing that you choose to wear for your day hike doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to be smartAvoid choosing clothing made from cotton products.  Cotton is not a fast drying fabric, and it tends to retain the dampness from cold and sweat, which in turn will make you cold.  You want to choose clothing made from a synthetic material which will keep the dampness away from your skin which will prevent your body heat from escaping.

Trust me when I tell you that what you are wearing can make or break the enjoyment of hiking.  Wearing the wrong clothing can be unbearable, and can cause extreme discomfort and even injury.


What To Pack For A Day Hike

It is sometimes difficult to know exactly what items to pack in your backpack to take on a day hike with you.  Even though there is a lot less packing to do when going on a day hike, there are some hiking essentials that are  important to have with you on your day hike.


Whether you are hiking for the day or making a longer trek, it is important that you stay hydrated during your hike making water a hiking essential.  The amount of water that you will need is all dependent on the weather, how strenuous the hike is, and the length of the hike.

For a moderate hike with moderate temperatures, you will require ½ litre of water per hour.  For a more strenuous hike on a hot day, you will require at least 1 litre of water per hour.


It is also necessary that your body has been fueled with the proper nutrients prior to the hike, as well as maintained during the hike.   The frequency of food intake will also depend on how strenuous the hike is and what the length of the hike will be.

consume lots of protein before and during a day hike
Consume protein 1 – 3 hours before your hike

For all hikes, you should ensure that you have fueled your body with lots of protein and carbohydrates.  For a day hike, these nutrients should be consumed 1 to 3 hours prior to the hike.  If you are hiking for the entire day, it is recommended that you have some snacks on hand to eat throughout your hike in order to keep your energy levels up.  Some recommended snacks which are beneficial for hiking are:

  • protein bars
  • oatmeal
  • bananas
  • yogurt
  • nuts

Pro Tip:  Even if I am going on a short hike, I will have nuts with me to eat throughout the hike.

First Aid Kit

Unfortunately when hiking, there is always the possibility of being injured.  Because of this, I recommend having a small first aid kit on hand.  The contents of the first aid kit for a day hike are not as extensive as a longer hike, and should include:

  • antiseptic wipes
  • bandaids
  • anti-bacterial ointment
  • pain relief medication
  • tweezers
  • safety pins
  • hand sanitizer


If you are just doing a day hike, the chances of needing a flashlight will be slim, however, it is always wise to have one with you.   No matter what length the hike is or how familiar you are with the trail, there is always the possibility that you mis-calculate the length of time that it will take to complete the trail.  For this reason, it is always recommended that you have a small flashlight on hand.

Cellphone and Charger

It is always wise to have your cellphone fully charged when going on a hike. Even when going on a day hike.  You will likely want to take lots of pictures if nothing else.  If you run into difficulties while on your hike, having your cellphone handy will make it easier to get help.  For a longer day hike, I recommend bringing a portable charger along just in case you use up your battery taking pictures.

map and portable phone charger are hiking essentials even when going on a day hike
Carry a paper map. Cellphone service is not always available.


While maps to most trails are available online, it is also wise to bring a paper map of the trail with you in order to navigate the trails easier.  Cellphone service is not always available on the trails and not all trails are clearly marked, so having a paper map is the perfect backup plan.

Pro Tip:  Download the AllTrails app for trails, maps, pictures and reviews of trails in your area.


Sunscreen is needed when hiking during any season to protect you from the UV rays.  Even on the most protected trails, the UV rays seem to find their way to you.  When venturing out on a day hike, application should be done once prior to the hike and depending on the length of the hike and the season you are hiking, it should be applied at least one further time throughout the hike.

Bug Spray

Let’s face it, most trails lead through woods, forest, or long grass, making bug spray an absolute must.  You don’t want to be fighting off those pesky mosquitoes during the entire hike, and having bug spray with you will make the hike much more enjoyable.

Bear Spray

Okay, this item is not always needed and will depend on the area that you will be hiking.  If hiking in the mountains or on a trail in a rural area where bears are known to frequent, it is always good to have a can of bear spray on hand……just in case.


A whistle has multiple purposes and it is an item that not everybody takes on a day hike.  When hiking in “bear country”, it is advisable to make noise which is difficult to do if hiking solo.  Having a whistle with you is a good substitute for talking or singing to yourself.  The whistle is also a good way to alert others in the case of an emergency.

Garbage Bag and Blanket

Even when heading out for a day hike things don’t always go as planned so it is always best to be prepared, especially when hiking in inclement weather.

  • Garbage Bag:  a garbage bag is beneficial if you are stranded or just need a rest while hiking, as it will give you something to sit on which will keep you dry.
  • Thermal Blanket:  a thermal blanket will be a life-saver especially if you find yourself lost and/or stranded.  It will help to keep you warm and sheltered until help arrives.

Hiking Equipment

Hiking Poles

Hiking poles are not always a necessity when taking a day hike.  If the terrain is rough and the length of the hike will be long, you might want to consider investing in hiking poles as they are beneficial in assisting to climb hills and slopes and allows you to distribute your body weight more evenly and maintain balance during your climbs.


Gaiters are a type of protective hiking clothing that cover the top of your hiking boots.  They protect your legs from branches, and keep mud, water and snow from getting inside of your boots.  If you plan on hiking in rain or snow, gaiters would be a good investment to make.

hiking poles are essential when hiking. They help to evenly distribute your body weight and eliminate strain on your knees
Use hiking poles to help you over rough terrain


Crampons are a traction device which are strapped onto your hiking boots, and allow for a more secure grip when hiking and climbing in icy conditions.  Crampons aren’t always necessary, but if you are hiking in the winter or in an extremely cold climate they are an essential to pack for your day hike.

Day Hike Overview

I can’t stress enough how important it is that you do your research and get to know your trail for the day of your hike.  This will assist you with knowing what clothing is appropriate, as well as what to pack for a successful day hike.

Day hiking is a relatively inexpensive activity and is readily available to people of all fitness levels.  Hiking is the perfect way to challenge your body and to rejuvenate your soul.

If you are a solo hiker, it is essential that certain safety measures be taken.

Lets-hit-the-trails-for-our-day-hike, but pack your day hike essentials and remember to stay safe
Ready to hit the trails?!

See you on the trails 🙂

Kelly xoxo


92 thoughts on “What To Pack For Your Day Hike

  1. mwantje

    These are all great tips, but I have to admit I had a little laugh at the “avoid high heels” part! I completely agree, but if you look up @pattiegonia on instagram, she hikes in huge heels and I’m just so amazed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sarah Camp | In Search of Sarah

    These are great tips! I’ve been hiking a ton in the past month (haha what else is there to do!) and I’m loving it. My dad isn’t thrilled I’ve been going solo, so to appease him I just bought a high decibel emergency whistle. I always go with a tiny sling back that sits diagonally across my chest for easy access to things (and is so convenient for my phone!). I have thrown a tick tool in there too but thankfully haven’t needed it yet!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brian

    Solid advice! As avid hikers, we are always tinkering with the things we bring with us, but the essentials remain. You mention proper footwear, and it’s funny just how often we see people who are not wearing the right shoes. I’ve seen people hiking in flat converse over ice and snow. Always important to do your research before you set out so that you can ensure you make it back!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Valerie

    Wow! A lot of useful information here! I’m a newbie to hiking, so I’ve only done a few easy ones so far. But still I didn’t have half the things recommended here which would’ve helped. Didn’t think socks would be so important 🙂
    Thanks for the info!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. bye:myself

    I know how important good shoes with a firm grip are ever since I slipped on a pretty easy hike. There were stones, there was mist, it was like a skating ring. I was so lucky that I had to limp for two days and that was it… I think it’s crucial to pack wisely when going into the wilderness since you cannot stock up on water or a chocolate bar at the next 7/11. Actually, citybreaks are easier. Nevertheless, as soon as I read bear spray, I made myself comfortable on my sofa….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. kate

    What a great list! I’m the kind of person that will go on a 5 mile hike and forget basic things like water, so this list is super helpful. Recently I’ve been hiking in Montana and I’ve learned that bear spray is so important!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Emma

    Awesome list. I’ve been hiking so much this year and I’ve discovered the need for things I didn’t even think of before so having a list like this is super helpful. Bear spray! Or a bear bell. I live in Canada and people were appalled that my first couple of hikes I didn’t have either of these, so I made sure to stock up

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      hahaha. I’m in Canada as well. Even though bears are mostly know to frequent Western Canada, we have been getting quite a few in Ontario lately as well. I hike solo the majority of the time so a bear bell would be ideal!


  8. Kat Anderson

    Great, all-inclusive list! My first aid kit (unfortunately) came in handy during one of my last hikes as it began to rain and I slipped, fell and then slid down a rock. Thank goodness I was prepared and could deal with it immediately!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ramya

    The tips shared by you are amazing, apart from the mentioned things, I also go for shoe locks. As I face a major problem with my shoelaces, shoe lock ensures that shoelaces remain tied. Small things if taken proper care creates a lot of difference during trekking. Nice informative piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pamela Drager

    I never took day hikes seriously because they were just for a “day” until I got lost and VERY VERY dehydrated. Now I am very careful with water and other things. I am definitely saving this post for those fall hikes coming! Thank you!


  11. Anuradha

    We love hiking, no matter how the weather is (unless there is a thunderstorm or snowstorm – haha). We are blessed to be in living in a world where there are still so much green space left, and beautiful mountains and hills to climb. The views from the top are always rewarding after a strenuous hike. WE have been taking our twins on short hikes and now they started appreciating it much too! Can’t wait to begin our autumn hikes.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Aradhana Bakshi

    Some useful and handy tips there! Sprays and flashlight one often forgets. Gaiters too, overlooked esp if the terrain is rough. Like your hiking shoes, which brand?


  13. Aradhana Bakshi

    Very useful and handy tips! It’s surprising how one often overlooks or forgets sprays and torch light which can be so useful. Gaiters too are a great bet for rough terrains. Really like your hiking shoes, are they a particular brand?


  14. Kanupriyaa

    This is such a great list. I always seem to forget what to pack for colder hikes because I am used to California weather. Love that you wrote such an extensive guide for it!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Freya

    Great tips! As a keen hiker, I’m always reassessing my daypack contents. When you talked about appropriate clothing I smiled, reminded of a young girl on our gorilla trek who set off in shorts, cotton tee and sneakers. She looked at me in my heavy boots and gaiters like I was mad…until we came across the stinging nettles and calf-deep mud 🙂 I felt a bit sorry for her slipping around with her scratched-up muddy legs.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Krista

    This is a great guide for what to pack while hiking! I tend to pack as light as possible so I miss some of the more important things like a first aid kit … Maybe I should take your advice!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sandy N Vyjay

    Hiking is great fun, but it is so important to be equipped with all the necessary accessories for any hike, whether a short one or a long one. You have covered all the essentials when it comes to a day hike. Footwear and water is the top priority for us in the list.

    Liked by 1 person

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  19. Jackie

    This was a really informative post, Kelly. I thought I would know all of these items, but you pointed out a good many I hadn’t thought of! I especially like the idea of bringing a flashlight. That’s so smart! And the bear spray could come in handy, too. I’ve added some new items to my shopping list for day hikes so I’m better prepared, thanks to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      That’s great Jackie! A flashlight is an item that I have recently added to my backpack as well, after I had to use a light on my phone when I was later getting back than I had planned 😦 It wasn’t fun lol.


  20. Travel See Write

    I have a packing list on my phone for each kind of travel I do and always refer to that before any trip. My hiking packing list is quite similar to what you have. Hiking boots are the most critical out of all the things. I once hiked with terrible boots. Lesson learnt the hard way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      I completely agree! Recently I went on what I though would be “as stroll on a trail” . The trail itself was easy, but it was 8 km. I just had my converse on and by the time I was done, my feet were killing me! Lesson learned for me as well lol.


  21. Jyoti

    What a comprehensive guide for day hikes!! We hike often but there are so many things I would have not thought about. For example I didn’t know what Gaiters were until I read about them here. Definitely lots of nuggets of wisdom here.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Just One Passport

      I wear Vasque hiking boots for Winter. The grip is fantastic which means I don’t often need spikes. They are comfortable and waterproof, but because they are a boot they are a bit heavier. I haven’t found a pair I like for summer yet for the same reason. I don’t like the weight, so I just wear a really good pair of Nike running shoes in summer

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  38. Valentina

    This is a great and very complete list of all the items we need when going to hike. I don’t have a bear spray but just because there are no bears in the UK. But my parents have one (they live and hike in northeast Italy and Slovenia) and there are plenty of bears up in the mountains.

    Liked by 1 person

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