A day hike is a great way to get outside, get some fresh air, and enjoy some beautiful scenery. But before you head out on your next hiking adventure, it's important to make sure you have everything you need and that your gear is prepped and ready for your trip. After all, you don't want to be caught without something essential when you're miles from civilization. So what should you bring on a day hike? Read on to find out.
Hiking Boots or Shoes
One of the most important things to bring on a day hike is a good pair of hiking boots or shoes. This will help you avoid blisters and keep your feet dry and comfortable. If you don't have proper footwear, your hike will be miserable. So make sure to invest in a good pair of hiking boots or shoes before heading out into the great outdoors.
Water and Snacks
Another essential for any hike is water and snacks. You'll need to stay hydrated, especially if it's hot out (plan for at least 2 liters of water per person). Having some snacks will help keep your energy up. Choose snacks that are high in protein and easy to eat on the go, such as trail mix or granola bars. And don't forget to pack extra water in case you can't find any potable water sources along the way. Better safe than sorry!
First Aid Kit
It's always a good idea to bring a first aid kit with you when hiking, just in case. Include items like bandages, antibiotic ointment, pain relievers, and sting relief wipes. That way, if anyone in your group gets hurt, you'll be prepared. And if no one gets hurt, then you'll just have peace of mind knowing that you're prepared for anything.
UV Protection and Insect Repellent
Especially if you are hiking in the summer, you should bring along your sunscreen. When you sweat you wipe off sunscreen which then makes you vulnerable to burnt skin. To protect your head from harmful UV rays in the summer, a hat is another great addition as are hiking shirts and hiking shorts with UV protection.
Of course, a hat is also useful to keep you warm in the winter as it keeps your head insulated from the cold.
Bug spray is really useful too and you'll be glad you brought it along when you are being plagued by insects.
Compass & Map or GPS Device
If you're venturing off the beaten path, it's crucial to bring either a compass and map or a GPS device. That way, if you get lost, you'll be able to find your way back again. Many smartphones now have GPS built-in, so if yours does too, then make sure to bring it with you (and keep it charged!). Or consider investing in a handheld GPS device specifically for hikes. Either way, just make sure not to rely solely on technology—a paper map is always a good backup option.
Appropriate hiking clothing is well worth the investment as it will go a long way towards keeping you protected from the elements and chafe-free.
It's always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to clothes. Better to have too many layers than not enough! Even if the weather forecast says it will be warm all day long, conditions can change quickly in the mountains—especially if there's wind or rain in the forecast. So pack an extra layer or two just in case.
Again, this is one of those items that's better to have and not need than vice versa. If you are hiking in rocky or uneven terrain, then hiking poles can provide extra stability and help prevent injuries like twisted ankles. But even if the trails are smooth sailing, having poles can help take some strain off your legs and back—especially on longer hikes.
These are just a few of the essentials that every hiker should bring on a day hike. Of course, every hike is different so you may need to pack additional items depending on where you're going and what the conditions are like. But as long as you remember these basics, then you'll be well on your way to having a successful—and safe—hiking adventure!