I love day hiking nearly as much as backpacking. You can have a great day outdoors, and still enjoy all the comforts of home at the end of it. But I’ve encountered far more day hikers who have left essential gear behind than backpackers, and forgetting to bring essential gear can really spoil your day hike.
Perhaps it’s because day hikes are perceived as being a less serious outing than backpacking, that makes some day hikers careless. They figure that, because they’re not camping out overnight, they don’t have to put too much thought into what they bring.
But that’s wrong-headed thinking. It’s the same outdoors whether you’re gone for a day or a week. You need much of the same gear, whether your going on a day hike, or setting up camp.
Here’s my list of essential gear for day hikes:
1. Water-bottle (full), water filter. I bring a Katadyn ceramic mini water filter so I can refill my water-bottle from streams.
2. Sunglasses, sun screen, hat. I’ve given sun screen to several day hikers who I’ve met on my hikes. Above the tree line, especially, the sun is fierce. You need protection from it.
3. Foot kit. This has bandages, and plasters, as well as extra shoelaces.
4. Survival kit (includes compass). My survival kit also has a small notebook and a pencil. It’s surprising how often it’s come in handy, not for surviving, but for exchanging phone numbers of a hiker I’ve met, or leaving a note somewhere.
5. Map and compass.
6. Knife. I don’t go anywhere without my Kershaw Ken Onion “Leek.” But any good pocket knife will do. Swiss army knives have lots of tools, but I find them hard to open, and have cut myself on them. I handle my Kershaw knife much more, and have never cut myself with it because I can open and close it with one hand.
7. Binoculars, camera. I have an ultra-zoom camera, so I usually bring one or the other.
8. Lunch. Trail snacks.
9. Rain poncho if there’s any chance of rain.
Day hikes are fun, but, because the outdoors can be a challenging place, they need careful preparation. If you remember to bring the above essential gear on your day hikes you’ll be well-pre
pared for your day in the outdoors.