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What to Pack for a Day Hike: 10 Essentials

What to Pack for a Day Hike: 10 Essentials

Here are 10 essential things you need to bring for a hiking trip.

Thinking of heading out for a day hike? Whether you’re gearing up for a full day hike or taking a short stroll through the forest, it’s always good to be prepared. While I haven’t embarked on any multi-day hiking treks (yet!), I’m an avid day hiker. Currently, I’m working on hiking the entire length of the Bruce Trail that spans approximately 900km in total. Even if I’m only going out for a few hours, there are essential items that I always bring with me. Here’s what to pack for a day hike.

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What to Pack for a Day Hike: 10 Essentials

Sun Protection

I don’t think I need to stress the importance of protecting yourself from the sun. If you’re out on a hiking trip for the day, you’ll need to take some measures to ensure you don’t get a nasty sunburn. I recommend applying and bringing sunscreen in your pack. There are a variety of high quality and effective sunscreen products that have not been tested on animals that are certified vegan: Goddess Garden Organics, Kiss My Face, and Salt and Stone.

I also recommend bringing sunglasses, a sun hat, and a lip balm with SPF protection. If you’re looking for what to pack for a day hike, don’t leave home without sun protection.

What to Pack for a Day Hike: 10 Essentials

Rain Jacket

Just as it’s important to protect yourself from the sun, you need to consider all kinds of weather when you embark on a day hike. Even if the forecast calls for sun, there’s always the possibility that it could rain. If you aren’t prepared for showers at all, you might end up becoming a wet, soggy mess. It’s never a bad idea to throw a lightweight, waterproof jacket into your backpack. You never know what might happen out there! I highly recommend checking out waterproof hooded rain jackets by Columbia (click here for men’s and women’s jackets).


I cannot stress the importance of staying hydrated on your day hike. Even if you’re only out there for a few hours, the body can get extremely dehydrated if you’re active, particularly on a hot day. You need to bring enough water and beverages with you to keep your hydration levels up. I recommend packing a reusable water bottle filled with water before you leave.

If you’re going to be hiking for the entire day, bring a Steripen water purifier with you. You can fill up your bottle of water from any water source and purify it within moments with this valuable product. Steripen eliminates 99% of bacteria and viruses in 90 seconds.


I never leave the house without snacks! Well, at least that’s true for hiking. If you’re looking for what to pack for a day hike, I suggest bringing some food in case you get hungry out there. There’s nothing less fun than having your stomach growl in the middle of your hike. I’ve had it happen before. Then, all I can think about for the remaining hours of my hike is how hungry I am! And that’s no fun at all. My favourite go-to snack for a hike are Clif Bars. You can buy them by the case, they’re relatively inexpensive, they’re filling while remaining lower in fat and calories, and they’re vegan. I’m also in love with the nut butter filled Clif Bars, including these ones that taste like Nutella.

What to Pack for a Day Hike: 10 Essentials


Who uses maps these days? If you’re out on a hiking trip, you might not be in regions that have cell phone coverage. Cell towers could be few and far between. You don’t want to get lost out there! It’s always a good idea to have a back-up map. When I’m hiking the Bruce Trail, I always bring my paper copy of the Bruce Trail guide. Many hiking trail systems around the world have maps that are continually updated. The Bruce Trail even has downloadable maps, if you’re opposed to bringing a book and still want to use your device.

Bug Spray

If you’re going to be trekking in any regions with mosquitoes, protect yourself with bug spray. It’s always a good idea to bring bug spray with you, just in case. I wouldn’t want to risk being infected with illnesses that mosquitoes carry, plus it would be super annoying to scratch bug bites in the days following the hike. Therefore, it’s one of my essential things to pack for a day hike. Here is an effective bug spray that’s vegan and cruelty-free.

What to Pack for a Day Hike: 10 Essentials

First Aid Kit

A basic first aid kit is always in my bag, no matter if I’m going for a short day hike or a lengthier trip. I’m also prone to tripping and falling, but thankfully I’ve never injured myself too badly on a hike. But, you never know! It’s always a good idea to carry a basic first aid kit. It isn’t going to add too much weight, and you might be thankful some day that you’re carrying around these items.


When you think about what to pack for a day hike, a smartphone isn’t likely the first thing on your list. However, it’s important to carry a method of communication with you. It might not work the whole time, but it’s good to stay connected to your loved ones if possible. Tell your family or friends where you’ll be going and when you expect to be finished your hike if you’re going alone. I recommend not only bringing a smartphone, but bring a backup battery pack and phone cable so you don’t run out of power. If you’re a blogger like me, you’ll also want to snap a few videos and photos for your Instagram stories!

What to Pack for a Day Hike: 10 Essentials


Speaking of pictures, don’t forget your camera! For many people, a smartphone with a camera might be enough. However, I’m a travel blogger and I bring my DSLR pretty much everywhere I go. That way, I can write about my hiking adventures with lots of beautiful photos! This might not be a necessity for many people, but I always bring my camera wherever possible, even if it adds some extra weight to my back.

Garbage Bag

Leave nothing behind except footprints and take nothing but pictures. Unfortunately, some people don’t share this sentiment. By bringing a small garbage bag, you can pick up some waste as you hike to remove what others have left behind. We must all work together to protect and cherish our beautiful forests and trails, even if it means cleaning up after other less considerate individuals.

What to Pack for a Day Hike: 10 Essentials

Cabinzero Backpack

The easiest way to carry everything around with you is on your back. Depending on how much you’re bringing along and its total weight, you will require a smaller or bigger backpack. My favourite backpack is made by Cabinzero. They have a whole variety of backpacks in various sizes, they’re extremely well made and at a fantastic price point. Their backpacks are designed with travelers in mind with compartments to keep your things organized, plus they can all be used as airline carry on bags. 

Hope you enjoyed this list of what to pack on a day hike. Even if it means carrying a few extra things for the trip, it’s the best way to stay safe and content on the trail. Happy hiking!

Is there anything else you recommend carrying with you for a hike?

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Brooke of Passport Couture

Saturday 6th of October 2018

Excellent list! I constantly forget to bring snacks and have made it a priority to pack snacks the night before so I don't forget. Water is also incredibly vital and we can forget about because it seems a second nature/obvious thing.


Wednesday 19th of September 2018

I love hiking and it has always been my passion since my first hike. Thanks for sharing this essential things checklist. All of these are really important and must be on your way to hiking.


Wednesday 19th of September 2018

I'm glad you found it helpful, Jeff!

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