Hiking is all about getting outdoors and exploring nature. It allows you to test your endurance and improve your fitness level. There are hiking trails for all experience levels. For the truly adventurous, there are multi-day treks that involve camping in the wilderness, but for those with limited time or experience, day hikes are a more accessible option. Regardless of the length of time you’ll be out, it’s essential to make sure you’re properly equipped. Even day hikes require you to carry some essentials for safety and comfort. So, what will you need if you plan to take on a day hike? Here are a few essential supplies necessary for your trek.
You’ll want a comfortable and lightweight backpack to carry all of your essential supplies. While for a day hike you may be able to get away with using any old pack if you’re looking to get serious about hiking it may be worth investing in one with a hip belt and a sternum strap which can take the load off your shoulders and keep the weight of the pack from shifting as you walk.
Footwear & Clothing
Having the appropriate footwear for the terrain you’ll be encountering on your hike is absolutely essential for your safety and comfort. Researching online, you’ll find that there are a number of footwear recommendations for hikers and much debate over shoes vs. boots. The most crucial consideration is to get something that will be comfortable for you, which will also provide adequate protection and traction on rugged terrain.
When it comes to clothing, wear moisture-wicking layers. You can then add or subtract layers to adjust to changing temperatures or activity levels. Even on warm-weather hikes, the weather may change without warning, so it’s wise to carry an extra layer of warm, dry clothing, a warm hat, and a rain jacket, just in case.
Another consideration when it comes to hiking, clothes, and accessories is sun protection. Regardless of weather or cloud cover, sunscreen, SPF lip balm, sunglasses, and a brimmed hat are essential.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but being able to navigate your way through the wilderness is crucial to your survival and success as a day hiker. Be sure to pack a map and compass (and know how to use them). Phones and GPS units are certainly handy at times, but they’re not the most reliable means of navigation out in the wilderness.
Food & Water
Staying hydrated while hiking is vital to your safety and well-being. A good rule of thumb for water is half a liter of water for each hour you intend to be out. If you’re concerned about the extra weight of the water, you can opt for a lightweight water purification system or tablets; just make sure you know where water sources will be located on the trail.
Also make sure you pack ample high-calorie snacks to fuel your body throughout the hike. It’s a good idea to carry a bit more than you think you’ll need, just in case you get stranded and are out longer than you expect.
First Aid Kit
You can easily find a pre-packaged first aid kit to carry with you on your hiking trips; however, don’t forget to restock items used when you return home. It’s also a good idea to take a CPR and First Aid course to ensure you know the proper techniques for using the supplies, beyond bandaids, in the kit.
While you may not plan to be out on the trail after the sun goes down, emergencies do happen, so it’s important to be prepared. Carry a lightweight flashlight and the means for starting a fire in the event you need them. Also, you never know when a knife or multi-tool will come in handy. You may need it to repair gear or use it in conjunction with your first aid kit.
Again, with this last item, it may not be something you have any intention of using, but it is essential to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Having an emergency shelter in the event you are injured or stranded can be life-saving. It can be as simple as carrying a lightweight space blanket or bivy to keep you warm, dry, and protected from the elements.
While it’s likely no one’s goal to become injured or stranded on a day hike, accidents do happen, so it’s essential to be prepared. The items listed here are merely the essentials for safety and comfort on your trek through the great outdoors. It’s time to get out and explore nature! Just make sure that you are well-equipped so you can truly enjoy the experience.