What to Pack for a Day Hike


Sure, hiking during the day is safer than nighttime but still, anything can happen whether you like it or not. Even if your plan is just to hike for a few hours in broad daylight, it is still your responsibility to know what to pack for a day hike to keep yourself safe from outdoor elements and risks. The following are essentials you should bring in your daypack:


This should be your priority. It is best to bring two water bottles so you can bring one for your hike and leave the other one in your car if the trail is far from your home. For hikes less than three hours, one quart of water is fine. Longer than that, however, you should double the amount. For a healthier and more refreshing drink, you may put cucumbers or lemons in your water.


Pocket knives are widely considered as hiking and camping essentials. They have various retractable blades in just one handle for different needs and tasks. For self-defense, however, you need automatic knives more. These knives are really sharp. That is why you have to push the button or lever first to make the blade come out of its handle. If automatic knives are not retractable, they would just slash bags and easily cut skin. They would not be portable at all despite their compact size.

First Aid Kit

Never forget to bring a first aid kit with you. Even a small one is already enough for a day hike. Essentials for short hikes include band-aids, antiseptic products, and pain relievers.

You may also bring items such as second skin and moleskin to protect your feet from blisters. Blisters can be very unbearable, making you weak and slow during your hike. They can actually be a reason why you cannot finish the hike before nightfall. All you need to do is cover the irritated area with a moleskin as soon you as you feel discomfort on your feet. If blister starts to form, use a second skin. It also doesn’t hurt to include a duct tape in the first aid kit to prevent further rubbing that makes the blister worse.

Fire Sources

You can simply bring either a set of matches or a lighter but since they are tiny, why not pack both? This precaution is even more applicable when your day hike starts in the afternoon. If you suddenly lose your trail before sunset, it is possible that you might camp out until morning. You need fire to survive the cold night. You also need to learn how to build a shelter for survival.

Light Sources

Ideal light sources for lightweight packing are flashlights and headlamps. The first thing you actually need in case you reach nightfall is light. Before preparing your shelter, you should find a safe spot first. To see the trail, obviously, use your own source of light. We do not recommend hiking further during the night just to go home. It is safer to stay in one place with your emergency essentials intact.


It goes without saying that we are not talking about ordinary thick blankets meant for beds. What you should pack, however, are thin lightweight blankets. Just because a blanket is thin does not mean it cannot keep you warm during cold nights. As long as the blanket is made of fleece or other synthetic blends, you can survive low temperatures. Avoid cotton blankets for they do not offer water resistance and insulation.

Compass & Map

To avoid getting lost if you are up for new trails, learn how to read a compass and a map. Even though these tools can be useless for urban and residential areas because of GPS devices, they can definitely be a matter of life and death in the wilderness. Do not rely too much on your electronics or gadgets in hiking trails. You should stick to alternatives that do not require batteries or charging.


On a lighter note, it is exciting to pass through a stream, brook, river or any narrow body of water for you have to skip on rocks or wade in the water by wearing waterproof footwear such as rain boots. However, you might suddenly lose your balance while skipping on rocks. Or, your boots might not successfully protect your feet from the water. Either way, hiking without a pair of dry socks can make you miserable during the activity. So, always bring an additional pair with you in your hiking backpack.


To completely enjoy your hike, at least bring some food. Hiking can take you to wonderful spots where you can eat delicious meals or snacks while looking at a beautiful view. Aside from the purpose of satisfaction, food also ensures that you will not go hungry in case of emergencies. SomeĀ ideal foods for survival are ready-to-eat camping packs and protein bars. You can actually prepare a nice lunch and, at the same time, survival treats when you pack your bag.

Toilet Paper

From consumption, let’s proceed to disposal. The call of nature strikes anytime. So, it is best to keep a toilet paper in your daypack. Include a small Ziploc bag as well for it is disrespectful to just throw your trash anywhere.

Just a quick tip: hide yourself a hundred yards away from the trail and water sources. Even though you are alone, there might be other hikers using the trail. Besides, it is shameful to leave your waste near the trail used by other hikers. More importantly, keep nearby water sources clean. On a more positive note, choose a spot with a good view so you can feel more comfortable.


If you prefer to hike in the morning, apply sunscreen all over your exposed skin before the activity. By lunch, if you are still hiking, get your emergency sunscreen from your day pack and use it. Sunscreen gets more effective with repetition throughout the day.

What to Pack for a Day Hike

Unfortunate events happen anytime, anywhere – even in broad daylight. So, remember what to pack for a day hike to keep yourself comfortable and safe along the trail. Honestly, though, the best precaution is actually the presence of mind to avoid losing your way. It is also best to hike with an expert companion.