If you are here, chances are you are going on a hike today (or in the very near future!) This day hike packing list will give you everything you’ll need for a successful day!
Living in Colorado, I have definitely had the opportunity to take a lot of hikes, and it is something my husband and I love to do!
You get to explore somewhere new, enjoy nice weather, get some exercise, and spend quality time with your loved ones!
However, after learning from experience, it is very important that you have the right gear! You don’t want to be stuck up in a mountain somewhere and realize, “Oops, I forgot my water bottle”, or “Oh no! My phone died!”
This list will cover the basic items you will need, plus some other items that you’ll be glad you packed!
If you happen to be traveling to Colorado or another mountainous state, check out this Colorado packing list for some more ideas of things you’ll need!
Additionally, make sure you read this guide for how to deal with high elevations. If your body isn’t used to high altitudes, your day will likely not be as fun as you imagined, so make sure you know these tips!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
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Day Hike Packing List: Best Hiking Bag
A good hike starts with a good hiking bag. If you plan to go hiking more than once, do yourself a huge favor and get a good hiking bag. When we first moved to Colorado, we opted for cheap bags, or old backpacks we already had- MISTAKE.
Hiking bags go through a lot of wear and tear while hiking. We’ve gone through at least 2-3 bags in a year, simply because we didn’t want to spend money on a good bag. Well, lesson learned!
We finally got ourselves a good hiking bag because we were so tired of the bag’s zipper breaking, holes, pockets ripping, etc. Plus, this is not a comfortable feeling when you are hiking for miles and miles with a bag that’s falling apart!
We are currently using an REI backpack (only because we had a gift card!) and so far so good! The quality is so much better and we can hike knowing that everything in our bag is safe and won’t fall out!
I recommend taking a look on Amazon and getting a high-quality backpack, like this one!
Otherwise, check out your local Cabellas or REI store!
Day Hike Packing List: All the Essentials You'll Need!
Now that you’ve got a high-quality backpack ready, what do you put in it?! Believe it or not, there are quite a few things you should pack. You’ll soon understand why some hiking bags are so large!
Think of it this way: It’s better to have it and not use it than to be stuck on top of a mountain wishing you had just packed the darn thing!
When going on a hike, you will obviously need some water. We typically bring 2-3 big water bottles, depending on the length of our hike.
Believe me, when I say you’ll need more water than you think you do. We’ve taken way too many hikes where we ran out of water, so bring extra. You’ll thank yourself later!
Especially when increasing elevations, water is KEY to dealing with altitude sickness!
Besides bringing a water bottle, you can also get a hydration pack. Many hiking backpacks have built-in hydration packs, so you can take a sip of water without having to get your water bottle out, which is definitely convenient!
If you are hiking with a partner, one person could wear the main hiking backpack, and the other could wear a smaller hydration pack!
Snacks for Hiking
Another important item to put on your day hike packing list is snacks! Hiking can often take many hours or even all day! You will definitely start to get hungry as you are burning so much energy!
Depending on the length of the hike, you might also need a more substantial meal, such as a sandwich- think PBJ!
Otherwise, snacks will do. Here are some things we sometimes bring on our hikes:
- Protein bars
- Fruit- bananas, apples, etc.
- Trail mix (it’s called trail mix for a reason!)
- Other random snacks we have in the house
Always be sure to eat a good meal before you leave. You don’t want to get light-headed and weak while you are on your hike!
You don’t need to go crazy with this one, but having some of the basic first aid essentials is definitely a good idea to add to your day hike packing list!
When hiking, there are so many injuries that can happen- you might get a blister from your new hiking shoes, you could trip on a rock and cut open your knee, the bright sun and fresh air could give you a headache, etc.
Always pack a few of the essentials, such as bandaids, ibuprofen/aspirin, gauze pads, and some antibiotic ointment. I’ve never needed anything more than that, so you should be good to go! Better safe than sorry!
I will always preach wearing sunscreen because the sun is so bad for your skin! I know you probably want to get a little tan, but being tan for a few days is just not worth wrinkly saggy skin when you are older, or worse, skin cancer.
I wear Olay Whips with SPF 25 on my face every day, even when I am not hiking. I really hate putting traditional sunscreen on my face because it is so oily and greasy, but Olay Whips is legit. It is moisturizing and provides SPF, without feeling oily!
Also, consider packing traditional sunscreen as well for the rest of your body. As you hike higher and higher, the sun gets stronger and your skin is more likely to burn.
Do yourself a favor, and just wear the dang sunscreen!! Also, check out these unique ways to avoid sunburn (without sunscreen!)
Picture this: You’ve finally made it to the very top of the mountain! You go to take a picture of the beautiful views when- uh oh. Your phone dies.
Don’t let this be you! Your phone is hard at work on a hike, as you pull up the trail information, take pictures, and as your phone works hard to find signal the entire time.
We always bring portable chargers with us, just in case! They are small and light enough to pack in the bag, and even if we don’t use them, there is comfort knowing we’ve got some extra battery life just in case!
Another thing to put on your day hike packing list is a selfie stick tripod. If you’ve read my other posts before, you probably know I am obsessed with this thing.
We bought one of these for our honeymoon, and take it literally everywhere we go! It has a Bluetooth remote, so you can set your phone up on the tripod, then take as many photos as you want, hands-free!
This takes away from the awkwardness of asking a stranger to take a photo of you, only to have it turn out looking bad.
With a Bluetooth tripod, you can take all the silly pictures you want, of your entire group!
Read more about this product and why I love it so much in my guide for taking vacation selfies!
Depending on where you are hiking and when, you might need to pack some layers. If you are hiking to really high elevations, like over 10,000 feet, it will start to get chilly up there- and there might even be snow depending on the time of year.
Make sure you take note of this so you can pack the right clothing. If you are hiking later in the day, it can start to get chilly after the sun goes down!
You might just need a lightweight jacket, but you might also need a winter jacket! Check out the weather in the location you are hiking, and pack accordingly!
Another item to put on your day hike packing list is a pair of sunglasses! The mountains, at least here in Colorado, are typically very sunny. As you keep climbing higher, the sun is only going to get brighter and bigger!
You will probably already bring these, but I just wanted to include them on this list as a reminder to pack those sunglasses!
This one isn’t necessary, but I do like the bring a baseball cap during my hikes just in case! Having a baseball cap comes in handy when the sun starts to become too much for your eyes, and it also helps prevent your head and face from getting burned!
Another item you might want to consider putting on your day hike packing list is hiking poles. These aren’t absolutely necessary, and I personally have never used them, but I see a lot of hikers with them!
They are used to help you keep your balance and not trip and fall when you are hiking. These will be more helpful as you climb more difficult trails, so if you are going on an easy trail, these probably won’t be necessary.
However, these can come in handy for older hikers who might need a little more help on the rocky trails!
Another item that isn’t absolutely necessary but nice to have is binoculars! You never know what you might see while you’re up in the mountains. You might see some wildlife that you want to get a better look at, you maybe you want to just get a better look at the beautiful sights!
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