Hikes can be extremely fun and rewarding if you have the right equipment and are well prepared. Proper footwear, clothing, hydration, food, and a comfortable pack will determine how comfortable you are. Make sure you check the local area and bring maps of the area and the trails you plan to hike. This is a compilation list of a number of items that are recommended for day hikes; however remember that different gear can be useful and /or fun depending on the difficulty and length of your trip. Whatever you bring, you have to carry, so consider each item carefully before heading out on the hiking trail!
Absolute Essentials (for any hike, any length and difficulty level)
Water – one gallon per person per day is recommended. There are several hydration systems such as Camelbak or Platypus that integrate a water bottle into the backpack.
Pack – either a small backpack or a fanny pack
Good hiking shoes – break in your shoes before attempting a long or strenuous hike
Food – even snacks for shorter trips
Sunscreen – even if it’s overcast
Sun Hat - or warm hat if the weather is expected to be colder
Flashlight & Batteries – Headlamps make it easier to use your hands
First Aid Kit
Map – topographic maps are best
Firestarter kit (can be used as an emergency signal)
Warm Layers – check the weather, especially if you are hiking in the mountains. Changes happen quickly and unexpectedly, so know the local area’s weather conditions before you go.
Raincoat – if there is any chance of rain, pack a lightweight raincoat.
Good Additions to a Hiking Checklist
Notepad & pencil – or pens, watercolors, etc.
Water purification – for longer hikes with water sources
Hiking poles – if you have bad knees or will be carrying a heavier pack, poles are great
Frisbee & Balls
Natural history field guides
Gold Panning Equipment – check the local regulations on panning for gold
Clothing for Hiking
Layers, layers, layers. That is the key to dressing properly for a hike. Even if the weather is cooler, when you are exerting a lot of energy, you will inevitable get warm and sweat. However, when you stop hiking, your body will cool off and you will need a warm layer to put on. Weather changes quickly and often in the mountains, so prepare for a number of weather conditions.
Upper Body Layers for Hiking
Tips: fewer layers can be worn on warmer hikes. Avoid insulated pieces because they do not allow sweat to evaporate as well.
Synthetic or wool baselayer t-shirt or tank top
Synthetic or wool baselayer long sleeve shirt
Fleece jacket or vest
Windbreaker and/ or waterproof jacket
Shoes and Lower Body Layers for Hiking
If the weather is cold, wear a baselayer, however legs tend to stay warm while hiking and it is more comfortable to hike in only one layer of pants. Also, while shorts are nice to have in warm weather, if you are hiking through brush, having your skin exposed can cause rashes and reactions from the plants.
Lightweight pants – some have a removable bottom so they can turn into shorts
Synthetic or wool socks – there are varying opinions on what is the best thickness of sock, however it is a personal choice, and what matters most is that the socks and shoes fit comfortably together
Hiking shoes – a mid or low-rise shoes is fine for day hikes, just try it out on an incline hiking up and down before purchasing to make sure they don’t irritate any parts of your feet.