If you’re getting ready to head out on a day hike, there are somethings that you’ll need to pack in order to make sure you’re prepared for any situation you might end up in.
EDC does not always need to refer to just what you’re carrying on a regular day-to-day basis, it can also refer to what you pack for certain activities or jobs. It’s what you pack when you don’t know what you might need in order to survive or attack a situation that might arise.
Day hikes, just like most outdoor activities, are extremely enjoyable, but can also cause your stress levels to rise if you’re not prepared. Ensuring that you pack the essentials as well as things you may need in the event of an emergency, will keep your stress levels down and your enjoyment elevated.
You never know what you might run into while out on those trails, or what rock you might accidentally stumble over, so knowing what to pack, while also not packing too much, will make your life much easier as you head out on your adventure.
Things to Bring on a Day Hike
There are certainly some things that you should absolutely pack and some things that you can probably do without, but this list will give you a good idea of the types of things you should be thinking about when you go hiking.
The number one thing you should remember, no matter what, is to bring enough water for your hike. Even if it’s just a reusable water bottle that’s as full as possible, be sure to fill it and bring it with you. In the event that it’s going to be a very long hike, a camelback or a water bladder that holds more water might be a better option, but if all you have is a reusable water bottle, that is better than nothing.
In the event that you run out of water, hopefully there are water stations or even a stream that you can refill the bottle and continue on your way.
First Aid Kit
A small, portable first aid kit is worth having with you even if it just includes a few band aids and some antibiotic cream. You never know when you might fall and scrape a knee or elbow. We would even throw a couple butterfly stitches in there as well just in case something a little more concerning happens.
We all know that our phones have GPS and Google maps, but if you’re out in the middle of nowhere and don’t have phone service, what are you going to do? Having a small compass and a pocket map of the area can come in handy in case you do get lost or go off the path for some reason.
Even if you’re not hiking on a hot day, the sun can still wreak havoc on your skin, and there’s nothing worse than having to deal with sever sunburn. Putting on sunscreen before you head out for the day is great, but depending on how long you’ll be out in the sun, you may want to pack a small bottle of it so you can re-apply.
Water is absolutely essential in the case of an emergency, but having a little something to eat while out for the day can go a long way. Snacks and protein bars are a great way to keep your energy up when you may not have time to stop and eat a full meal.
One of the things that we like to have with us at all times, especially while outdoors, is a multi-tool. It doesn’t matter which one as long as it has a knife contained within it. You never know when you may need to utilize the tool to help get you out of a jam.
There are many different brands and types of multi-tools available, but having one with you could help in many situations.
Small Space Blanket
Space blankets can fold up to be pretty small and can be a life saver if you get caught outdoors overnight with nowhere to stay. If you get lost or wander off the path and can’t find your way back, a space blanket will help protect you from the elements and keep you warm overnight if the situation arises.
This may not be as necessary as some of the items above, especially if you’re hiking a trail that is well populated and well-marked, but if you’re going out on a longer day hike in a more remote area, a small space blanket could come in handy.
Headlamp or Flashlight
Even if you’re going out for the day, throw a small flashlight or headlamp in your pack. Time may get away from you and you don’t want to be stuck outside at night with no light.
We know that most cell phones have the ability to utilize their flash as a flashlight, but you may want to save the battery life on your phone in case of an emergency and using the flashlight will run down the battery pretty quickly.
There is nothing worse than being out on a day hike only to come across an insane amount of bugs and insects that continuously start biting you. Having a small bottle of insect repellent with you if you’re hiking in the woods, can make your experience a lot more enjoyable.
Depending on the type of hike you plan on taking, an extra shirt or pair of pants in your bag can make the hike more comfortable if you happen to get wet or too cold. We always recommend layering up when going out on a hike so that you can take articles of clothing off if you start to get warm, but there’s nothing worse than being cold and wet while in the middle of a hike.
Battery Charging Pack
Everyone should have a small portable battery charging pack, as well as a charging cord for your phone, with you at all times. This will help you if you get into a situation where you need to use your phone, but the battery has died.
When out in more remote areas without strong cell phone signals, your phone will be constantly searching for that signal which can significantly drain your battery. Having a portable charger and cable with you will help ensure that you can turn on your phone when you need it.
Packing for a Day Hike
The items above will all depend on what sort of hike you plan on taking. If you’re taking a short day hike on a well-traveled, well-marked path, then there may not be the need top pack everything listed above. Chances of you getting off of the path or getting lost for a long period of time could be pretty slim, but never zero.
Be smart about what you’re packing. Figure out how long the hike is, how long you plan to be gone, what type of terrain you might encounter, etc. The more you’re prepared the more enjoyable the hike will be. You won’t have to stress about something happening and not having the proper tools or equipment to get yourself back on track, plus in the event you do run into trouble, you will have everything you need to ensure that you can survive and reach help.
Day hikes are a great way to get some exercise while enjoying the outdoors and nature, but always make sure you’re prepared!
Zach Belmont has been working in the outdoor apparel industry in one form or another for over 20 years. During his career, he has worked at some of the most well-known adventure brands including Patagonia and The North Face in marketing, operations and product development. Zach currently lives in Wyoming with his wife and 2 kids.