What to Pack on a Basic Day Hike

Maybe you're not quite world's biggest adventure or maybe you're itching for your next 14-mile day hike.  Either way, we've all forgotten essentials on a trip or two regardless of how well we plan.  Jesse and I started creating packing lists for each of our adventures, so I thought I'd share our basic day hike list with you today.  It works well as a starting point for both simple 2mi treks and difficult 10mi treks.

Packing list for a basic day hike:

  • Travel-sized sunscreen
  • Travel-sized bug spray (if needed)
  • Travel-sized hand sanitizer
  • Chapstick
  • Tissue pack(s)
  • A ziplock bag or two (for trash)
  • First-aid kit
  • Knife or multi-tool
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Sunglasses
  • Watch
  • Hat or bandana
  • Mini microfiber towel (if you will be near water - helps to wipe off wet feet, hands, or anything that may accidently get wet)
  • Camera - camera batteries, memory cards, lenses
  • iPhone + portable battery charger, charging cable
  • Trail map(s)
  • Water - minimum of 1 liter for each hour.  Always bring more than you think you will need or bring a filter pump if you will be near water.
  • Prepared sandwich lunch (tip: keep it cool in a small lunch cooler like this)
  • Snacks (cliff bars, beef jerky, unsalted nuts, trail mix, nature valley bars, granola, etc)
  • Backpack

As always, make sure you look up conditions in the area of where you will be hiking.  Bring the proper equipment, gear, and/or clothing necessary depending upon the weather or situation.  This list is structured to be a guide to build off of for each of your hikes.  

Here's some in-action photos for your enjoyment.

The photo on the left is of me at the start of a day hike in Paria Canyon, Utah.  I found the stick nearby to help me avoid quicksand.  Definitely not a recommended hike for new adventurers, haha!

The photo on the right is of me hiking the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail in Yosemite National Park, California.  I brought a giant bottle of sunscreen for some reason, not sure why.

The photo below is my fiancee's pack.  Yes, his set-up is way more glamorous than mine!  He usually carries the lunch cooler while I carry the snacks.

What are your essentials when hiking?  Or if you're a new hiker, does this list help you pack?