Whether you're an avid explorer, an adrenaline junkie, or simply a casual hiker, carrying the proper equipment is absolutely crucial. Being prepared can sometimes be the difference between a slight inconvenience and a downright disaster. Depending on the length of the hike, difficulty, and climate, your actual packing list may vary slightly, but our 8 backpack essentials for a dayhike will definitely get you started on the right track.
1. A good backpack
Ok, don't laugh, but the first backpack essential for a dayhike is, you guessed it, a good b a c k p a c k. Sure, your trusty bag that got you through high school might be a good start for a short walk, but when you're hiking for a few hours, or gaining ANY elevation, you'll need something a bit more sturdy. We recommend backpacks that have some, or all, of the following:
- Space for a bladder to have easy access to water
- Comfortable straps
- A hip belt for weight distribution
- Lots of pockets to stay organized
2. Sun protection
Even if it is cloudy, you should be wearing sunscreen. In fact, you might even get more sunburned on cloudy days! Use only SPF 30 and above, anything below and you might as well not be wearing any.
If you hate the thought of having to apply and reapply, a breathable shirt with sleeves and a hat might be good ideas also!
3. Extra water
Going off of our recommendation for backpacks with bladders, you should also bring an extra water bottle or two. Even if a hike is rated as "easy" you never know how much water you will actually need! And no one plans on getting lost, but it happens nevertheless, so packing a few extra ounces is critical. And you'll even get a better workout from the extra weight :)
4. Energizing snacks
Hiking is tough and it's important to keep your strength and energy up! But not all food is created equal, and lots of "healthy" options don't transport well. Granola bars, fruit, trail mix, and chocolate are just a few options that should hold up well and keep your energy high. And don't forget to pack out what you pack in, no one likes a litterbug!
5. Navigation & Communication
We probably don't have to tell you it's a good idea to bring your phone (I mean how else are you going to take photos of the beautiful vista!), but what happens if it dies or you have no service and get lost? That's why having an alternate power source and downloading a map of the trail or area is critical! There are heaps of apps and sites that work offline so you stay connected to your GPS. And I know it's 2020 but a paper map might not be such a terrible idea either!
Depending on your climate, you may need several layers to get you through the day. Hikes often start out warm and comfortable, but as the sun dips over the horizon, even the warmest of climates begin to get a little chilly. Start with a moisture-wicking layer so that you stay cool and comfortable, even when sweaty. Avoid cotton as it tends to trap heat and doesn't offer much insulation when wet. A rain jacket is always a good idea as weather patterns are often unpredictable and most rain jackets are great windbreakers. If you are in a particularly cold climate I would recommend gloves, a beanie, and scarf since we often overlook our hands, head, and neck when packing clothes!
Just in case you are still on the trail after sunset, a hands-free light source is very important. Headlamps work great, just make sure there are batteries/it is fully charged! And don't rely solely on the flashlight on your phone!
8. First-Aid Kit
If after going down this list you realize you might be packing more than you have room for, please make space for some form of first-aid supplies. Things like blisters and minor cuts happen often, so at least have some gauze, band-aids, and anti-bacterial cream available.
There you have it, our 8 backpack essentials sure to make your next trekking adventure a breeze. Can you think of anything else that belongs on this list? Write us in the comments!