Heading out hiking allows you to explore nature in a way you just can’t in the city! Spending an entire day hiking is a great way to relieve stress and is great for your body! Before you head out to the trails you'll want to ensure you pack everything needed while you’re out! Here is a supplies checklist for a one-day hiking trip that will keep you fueled, hydrated, and comfortable the whole day!
Anywhere you look online you’re going to come across a list of the “10 essentials” needed for a hiking trip. We’re going to use this as a base point for categories but add to it in order to get you what you want along with what you need. The categories from this essential list include Food, Water, Shelter, Fire, First Aid, Navigation, Sun Protection, Illumination, Insulation, and Repair. So, what exactly do you need for each of these categories?
Since you’re headed out for an entire day you need to ensure you can refuel along the way. Pack a lunch that’s stable enough to bring into the outdoor environment but also nutritious enough to reenergize you. Peanut butter is great to put on sandwiches as it is stable in warmer temperatures and it packs a protein punch to keep you going. Nuts and dried fruits are also another way to bring along something stable and nutritious. Along with lunch you will probably want to bring a snack for in between meals. Granola bars and protein bars are great for this as they’re prepackaged, don’t have to be refrigerated, and have a lot of nutritional benefits. Having a few extra treats for the unlikely event that you get lost and are gone longer than expected is always a good idea as well.
Hydration is key to all living things since we’re mostly made up of water. The physical exertion of hiking uses a lot of water and if you’re hiking in a hot area you’ll be losing water from sweat. Ensure you bring enough water to keep you well hydrated! If you want to lessen the load in your backpack, and you know you’ll be in an area with access to a lake or steam, there are portable water filters you can bring with you. Typically, these are either straws that filter while you drink, or something the size of a Capri Sun pouch that works with a bottle to filter as the water goes in and out.
Even if you’re not planning to stay out in the woods at night, it’s a good idea to bring along emergency shelter just in case. Something as simple as a tarp and rope can go a long way if you get lost or stranded and have to stay the night. It can also protect you if you get caught in an unexpected downpour! A bivy sack is another option to pack, as it’s lightweight, folds up small, and is basically a small one person sleeping tent.
Fire is another essential if you get lost and/or stranded. It provides a source of light to see, warmth to keep you dry and comfortable, and you can cook on it if you need to heat food. Bring along things like waterproof matches, a lighter, and easy-to-light tinder such as pencil shavings, dryer lint, or cotton balls. This way you have everything you need to get the fire going, and all you have to do is find some fuel wood out in the forest to keep it going.
Accidents happen and usually when you’re least prepared. Bringing along a first aid kit will ensure you can take on any injuries you may come up against until you can get medical attention. Make yourself a small kit with some antiseptic, bandages, gauze, tape, ointment, pain relievers, allergy medicines, tweezers, and nail clippers.
If you don’t know the area like the back of your hand, you'll want to bring along some navigation help. Things like cell phones are great but if you’re out in the middle of nowhere you’re probably not going to get enough of a signal to send a text, let alone pull up a map. Many parks and developed trails have trail maps you can pick up. These will be very helpful in identifying land markers if you happen to get lost. A compass is also a great item to bring along to guide you out and keep you on track. These two things may seem a little old school but when it comes to nature you may just find they work a lot better.
The shade from the trees will keep the sun off right? Probably not! You’d be surprised how many UV rays your skin can absorb when in shady areas and you never know if you’ll end up in an area that doesn’t have much shade coverage. Sun screen is your first line of defense to protect your skin. Slather it on well and often to make sure that you can filter out as much as you can. Don’t buy just any sunscreen. Make sure that it has at least an SPF of at least 30 and that it’s a high quality non-toxic sunscreen. The next step is to wear a sun hat or baseball hat. A sun hat will help protect the back of your neck better than a baseball hat, but the baseball hat is better than nothing. If the weather isn’t too hot, the more clothes you wear to cover your skin the better. Long sleeves and pants will protect you from the sun as well as insect bites so it’s a double win!
You’re going on a day hike, so why do you need illumination? Along your hike you may find things that you want to explore such as a cave that you’ll need light for! A more severe reason to bring it is the possibility of becoming lost, or your hike just happens to take longer than expected. When the sun sets and you’re in the woods at night, it can get pretty hard to see. A headlamp is the best way to go so you don’t have to carry anything around. Just strap it to your head and the light goes wherever you look. If you don’t have one of these, at least bring a flashlight. Extra batteries for these lights are always good to bring as well. If you’re headed out in the colder temps, make sure they’re lithium ion batteries as they are the least affected by chilly temperatures!
The kind and amount of insulation you bring will vary depending on where you’re hiking and the time of year. For example, if you’re hiking in the desert, you will want to bring a lot of layers, as it gets very cold at night, even in the middle of the hot summer. If you’re hiking in the hot summer in an area where it stays hot at night, you won’t need as much. It’s always good to bring at least a sweater or hoodie no matter where or when, just in case of rain or inclement weather. This way if you get a chill you have layers as an option. For the colder months or places such as the desert, you will also want to bring a jacket, hat, gloves, and long pants. A raincoat or poncho is always a good idea as well in case you get caught in the rain.
Our last category is “repair” and may be one that is most overlooked and most needed! You never know what may happen and what can break! You can fix a broken shoe with duct tape, pin up a ripped article of clothing, or use a Swiss army knife to detangle yourself if you get caught in vines or bushes! Pack all these things with the hope of not using them but with the expectation that they may be needed.
These items will all help to ensure your hike goes smoothly, even if it doesn’t go according to plan. Being well prepared is the best thing you can do for yourself whenever you venture out off grid. Remember, never hike alone and always make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you plan to return! If you don't return and no one knows when you should be back, they won’t know to report you missing. By letting them know where you plan to go, they know where to send search and rescue efforts if you’re not back on time. Now that you're ready to get packed up, click here for the printer-friendly downloadable checklist to make packing even easier!