Day Hike Essentials: What to Pack For a Day Hike - AdventureTripr

Day Hike Essentials: What to Pack For a Day Hike

Sam Taliancich · July 22, 2021
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Day Hike Packing List
Day Hike Packing List.

Have you been thinking about trying hiking? Day hikes can be a great way to get into the sport without over-exerting yourself the first time. There are plenty of amazing hikes that allow you to explore nature and only take a few hours to complete. Although these hikes only take a short amount of time, preparedness is still key to having a good day. 

In a previous blog post, which you can find here, we went over the Ten Essentials every hiker needs to have in their bag. That includes a first aid kit, map, and more, so make sure to check it out. In this post, we’re going to break down some of the gear essentials to help you make more informed decisions about what to pack for a day hike. We’ll cover which bag to get, which snacks to pack, which clothes will keep you comfortable, and the best trekking poles to help you along your way. Keep reading to learn more about what to put on your day hike packing list.

Best Day Packs

Best Day Packs.
Best Day Packs.

To hold your essentials, you’ll need to make sure you pick out the right backpack. For the average day hike, your bag should have a gear capacity between 20-26 liters. There should be plenty of room for snacks, clothes, flashlights, and all the other items you’ll need. Consider one of these bags recommended by


  • Osprey Talon 22

  • REI Flash 22

  • Osprey Stratos 24


  • Tempest 20

  • Juno 24 H20

  • Sirrus 24

What Snacks to Bring

Great Snacks for Hikes
Granola or Nuts Make Great Snacks For Hikes.

No hike is complete without a snack along the way. It’s important to keep your body healthy by munching on the right things. Good trail snacks should have a healthy balance of carbohydrates, good types of fats, and protein. Another factor to consider is the portability of your snack. It’s more than likely the meal you’ve packed will get squished along the way. Keep this in mind when packing your bag and opt for something that won’t make a big mess, like granola or nuts. Finally, take into consideration the climate you’ll be hiking in. Snacks with coconut oil or chocolate are not great for the Summer months as they’ll melt. Consider one of these tasty snacks perfect for day hikes:

  • Peanut Butter and Bananas

  • Beef Jerky

  • Tuna and Goldfish

  • Fresh or Dried Fruit

  • Granola

  • Veggies

  • Nuts and Seeds

  • Trail Mix

Water Bottle vs. Camelback

Water Bottle vs. Camelback
Water Bottle vs. Camelback

Just like you need to fuel your body with food, it’s crucial to keep it hydrated too. There are a few ways to carry water with you on the trail. The most popular ways are in a water bottle or a Camelback. Water bottles are good because they are easier to refill and allow you to monitor the amount of water left. But, if not insulated, water bottles have trouble keeping water cool and they are also less accessible than a Camelbak. Camelbaks are good because they are easier to use and are more convenient than water bottles. Unfortunately, Camelbaks are notoriously hard to clean and are much harder to refill than a simple water bottle. Both methods have their pros and cons, but at the end of the day, the method you pick is a totally personal preference.

Extra Clothing

Extra Clothes are Essential
Extra Clothes are Essential.

The Ten Essentials lists extra clothes, but what does that actually mean? On the trail, anything can happen. It can be sunny one second and rainy in the next. To prepare, you need to cover all your bases, which means something for every type of weather. A waterproof rain jacket, a warm layer like a fleece or insulated jacket, and extra socks are smart additions to your packing list. Check out some recommendations from REI:

Rain Jacket


  • Outdoor Research Helium

  • Arc’teryx Beta AR

  • KUHL Stretch Voyagr


  • REI Co-op XeroDry GTX

  • Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 GORE-TEX PACLITE Stretch

  • REI Co-op Rainier

Insulated Jacket


  • REI Co-op 650 Down 2.0 Jacket

  • Arc’teryx Cerium LT Down Hoodie

  • Columbia Grand Trek Down Jacket


  • Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

  • Patagonia Down Sweater

  • Arc’teryx Atom SL Insulated Hoodie

Extra Socks

  • Darn Tough Hiker Boot Full-Cushion

  • Smartwool Performance Hike Light Cushion Crew

  • REI Co-op Merino Wool Expedition Crew

Trekking Poles

Trekking poles.
Day Hike Essentials.

Trekking poles are a great addition to your day hike packing list. They are super helpful when walking down steep hills. The extra support they provide protects your knees and improves posture. If you’re worried about space, you can find collapsable poles capable of fitting comfortably in your backpack. If you think you would benefit from a trekking pole, consider one of these recommendations from Outdoor GearLab:


  • MSR DynaLock Ascent Carbon

  • Leki Micro Vario Carbon

  • Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork


  • Leki Women's Micro Vario Carbon

  • Black Diamond Distance FLZ - Women's

  • Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z

There you have it: our breakdown of what to add to your day hike packing list. Remember, this is just what you should include inside of your backpack. A prepared hiker should also have the right equipment on their body, such as hiking boots! If you’re interested in learning how to pick the appropriate hiking boots, check out our blog post here. Otherwise, use this knowledge to get outdoors and have fun!

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