You want to hike, but you only have a day. What do you take to make your day more enjoyable?
Be sure you have a decent day pack. You may not want to lug along a huge backpack. Keep the big pack for your overnight trips. Your day pack will be just big enough to hold the essentials.
Take a cellphone, but realize that all phones may not work in the back country. Also take a GPS or compass. You will want to know where you are in case of an emergency. Then you can find your way back to your trailhead, or your car.
Clothing choices depend on when and where you are hiking. The appropriate gear for the wilds of Tennessee will not work for the backcountry of Yellowstone. Dress in layers. Use wool for socks and underwear. Wool is naturally warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Keep the synthetics for your hiking pants and a fleece jacket.
A hat, scarf, and gloves are essential for cold weather hikes.
Footwear will be your most expensive investment for hiking. Spend the time and money needed to get a good pair of hiking boots. Find a good store where the clerks are expert in fitting boots. Leather wears longest and will let your feet breathe. If your route will take you through streams, consider packing a pair of water shoes. Even cheap flipflops will save your boots from getting wet.
Sunscreen is essential as well as bug spray. You will have a miserable hike if the bugs are bad and you get a bad sunburn. Sunglasses will also help when crossing that wide open field.
Finally make sure you have plenty of water and food. Even for a short day hike, you will need at least two or three quarts of water. Stick in that water filter just in case. Pack more food than you think you may need. Energy bars, fruit, cheese, crackers are all items that can be easily packed.
So, grab that pack, make sure you have a map, tell someone where you’re headed, and enjoy nature!