Whether it’s a few hours, or dawn till’ dusk, preparation is everything when out on a day hike. To figure out exactly what you need to bring, we’ve covered all the basics and created this handy guide – complete with checklists - just for you. If you are new to hiking, our Hiking for Beginners guide addresses all the tips and tricks you may need when embarking on a new adventure.
The general rule for day hikes is that the longer you’re out, the more you’ll need. Regardless of the time you plan to spend outdoors, your day pack should have the absolute basics inside, such as:
First, start off with a backpack – we recommend an 18L backpack for day hikes, but you can go up to 30L in size if you feel you want to bring more things with you. A pack cover is also recommended to add an extra layer of protection against things like unexpected weather and dirt. If you wish for additional knee support when travelling, trekking poles are also a great option to consider.
It is good practice to always pack a little more food and water than you may think you need, just to be on the safe side! Pack food items that are dry and high in energy, such as nuts, dried fruits, cereal bars, and cheeses. Sandwiches are also a great on-the-go meal option.
Bring a reusable water bottle and always start your hike with a full bottle. Keeping hydrated is essential to a successful hike, and you can always refill your water bottle up on the trail with the means to purify water.
Remember to pack out what you pack in and never leave food waste or litter on the trail. To reduce waste, take any food out of its original packaging and place it in reusable, Ziploc bags instead.
Knowing your area is a must for any hike you embark on. Feel free to use your mobile phone or a smart GPS device. Make sure to bring a portable charger and always have backup navigation in case of a power shortage. Handheld maps or compasses are always reliable resources to have as they do not need any power source to function. Many modern, frequent hikers may also opt for an altimeter watch.
Being prepared for emergency situations allows you to enjoy your trip confidently. Some essential, emergency items include a first-aid kit, a whistle, a fire-starter, (preferably waterproof!) a pocket knife or multi-tool, and a headlamp or torch. If you are on medication, do not forget to bring this with you too. You can also keep pesky insects at bay by having insect repellent to hand. Additionally, it is important for your skin to always wear a good layer of sun cream, even on cloudy days.
Keeping up with hygiene is also incredibly vital. We recommend bringing hand sanitiser and biodegradable, unscented wipes to clean yourself with. You may also bring toilet paper but remember to use it sparingly and dispose of it correctly and according to Leave No Trace principles. The environment should not be disturbed, and if you are only out on a day hike, perhaps it is best to leave such items at home.
Leave an itinerary of your trip with a friend or two, that way someone external always knows where to find you.
What you wear on your day hike is arguably one of the most important decisions to make before setting off. Your comfort defines your success and sets the tone and mood for the whole trip. We believe there is no such thing as bad weather when you are prepared! Factors like weather, location, and time to be spent outdoors will determine what clothing you will choose. Below, we have curated several, detailed weather guides so there’s no nasty surprises for you when you are out on your adventure.
You do not want to be caught off guard by a sudden downpour, so a waterproof layer, including a jacket with a good-sized hood and a pair of rain trousers, is a must to bring along. Our Rainy Weather guide provides you with all the knowledge you need to know to stay dry and protected.
Items like sunglasses, a cap or visor, thin and long sleeves, and zip on/off trousers are perfect for the warmer weather and getting that all-important UV-protection. Our Warm Weather guide breaks it down for you.
Depending on which time of the year you undertake your day hike, you may find yourself walking in a winter wonderland. You will need to layer yourself correctly, including adding a base layer to your outfit. Pack items such as long underwear, an insulation jacket, a fleece, a neck warmer, gloves, a hat, or a headband. To tackle the colder climate, read more in our Winter Weather guide.
When it comes to footwear, your shoes should be durable and comfortable. Consider hiking boots or walking trainers that are designed to endure versatile terrains and inclines to prevent walking injuries. Wear these with tall, synthetic, or woolly socks and always pack an extra pair just in case!
It is imperative for your safety that you should always try to opt for clothing that is reflective. All items in our Rescue Series are equipped with built in RECCO® reflectors that make you searchable if you end up lost or injured out on the trail.
The Ten Essentials list is a checklist created by a hiking organisation to help adventurers when out on their hikes, so we believe it is vital to mention. The Ten Essentials applies to both day hikes and longer durations, so it is up to you to decide what is necessary to bring as each trip will differ. For example, if you are only planning to be out for a few hours in broad daylight, things like shelter and fire are not going to be a priority to pack for you.
Day hiking is a fantastic way to enjoy everything nature has to offer without a lengthy commitment, making it a great option for all no matter the experience you have. So, whilst you are confidently organising your next day hike, feel free to check out all our hiking gear.