A day hike or long walk is a great way to get out to explore. Whether you are planning to stick close to home or find somewhere new, there's an abundance of mini-adventures to be had. All that's left to do before you head out the door is pack your bag with the right kit.
Are you walking solo, meeting friends or even taking the kids? Whatever day hike you're planning, it's important to consider the weather, length of walk and the terrain you'll be tackling which will help you to pack your bag with the essentials. Generally speaking, the longer your walk or more varied the weather conditions and terrain, the more water, food and clothing layers you will need to take.
Day hike checklist
- Hiking boots or trail shoes
- Breathable layers
- Waterproof jacket
- Water & Snacks
- Comfortable backpack
- First aid kit
Hiking boots or trail shoes
No matter the time of year, you're going to need some grippy, durable shoes so you can be confidently walk on uneven or slippery ground. Hiking boots or trail shoes are made from hard-wearing materials and have features that your regular trainers don't, such as deep lugs (grippers) on the sole. Often hiking boots or trail shoes are also waterproof - so are especially great to wear during the autumn and winter (or in the UK - any time of year!).
It's best to wear multiple layers when hiking as each layer traps heat. This will help to keep you warm when it's cold and if you start to get too hot, you can easily take a layer off and pack it away. For day hikes, it's worth considering materials like merino wool which is temperature regulating, wicks sweat away quickly and stays fresher for longer. Thin layers are easy to pack away in bags too. No matter what the forecast is saying when you set off, we recommend taking layers with you.
Weather conditions can change pretty quickly. If you get caught in the rain without protection, it can be hard to warm back up and dry off - potentially putting a dampener on your plans or halting your walk. Many outdoor jackets can be easily rolled up and packed away in a bag if the sun makes an appearance. And for the days it doesn't, you'll be thankful you're staying dry.
Hydration and snacks
Staying fueled and hydrated is key to having the energy to keep going. Without enough sustenance, you may start to feel lightheaded or dizzy and not want to or be able to continue. Plus is there anything better than packing a picnic, sitting down and soaking up your surroundings?
Many hikes and well-known walks are sign-posted but it is still a good idea to plan your route. You can download activity routes onto many GPS watches or your phone to keep you on the right path. These devices are also great to track your activity too.
This might seem like an obvious item to have on your checklist, as it is where you going to store your water, snacks, layers that you take off throughout the day and other essentials. However, have you considered which backpack to actually take with you? Is it comfortable on your shoulders, does it sit against your back without rubbing, is there plenty of room and pockets or would a hydration pack be a better option?
We have found that 20-35l bag is the optimum size for a day hike as you will easily be able to fit in all the above. We also recommend getting a bag that has adjustable shoulder and chest straps because this will help the bag fit against your body and therefore is less likely to rub.
You may find that a hydration pack might suit you better as you can drink water on the go thanks to the bladder and hose design and the pack still has enough room for your other essentials. If you are also interested in running these types of bags are very versatile.
I know what you're thinking 'I'm going on a DAY hike, why do I need a torch'. You may never actually use a torch, but it's better to be safe than sorry. If you take a wrong turn or you're hiking in the autumn and winter months before you know it the darkness can arrive. A torch will allow you to navigate the way home and be seen by others. Having a torch with you 'just in case' could save the day.
First aid kit
Plasters, antiseptic wipes and medical tape are just a few basics from a first aid kit that could come in handy on your walk. Whether for cuts and grazes from branches or you get a blister, having a few supplies will enable you to keep going and enjoy your walk. We'd also recommend taking sun cream and insect repellant for extra protection.
Now that you've packed your bag for your day hike, all that's left to do is get out and enjoy the fresh air!
If you're feeling inspired to do a multi-day walk, or are planning to camp and walk from your base, check out our camping checklist too.