In the past couple years, I have learned a lot about the importance of learning what day hiking gear to bring out on the trails. What’s in your pack (and the pack itself) really matters! If you’re carrying any extra weight that you don’t need for the hike, you’ll be paying for it later.
Some suggestions of what to consider before packing your hiking bag:
- Length and Distance of Hike
- Location of Hike
- Your Hiking Partner(s)
- Time of Day
My favorite daypack is the CamelBak Aventura 18 Women’s Hydration Pack. First, it holds enough water for a long dayhike, which is the reason I bought it in the first place. Next, it’s has the pockets I want for different types of gear. I can place big things in the large pouch, and then place snacks, keys, camera lens, etc. in the slightly smaller pouch near the top for easy access. It also has two additional pouches on either side for water bottles, which aren’t usually necessary but nevertheless, a good feature to have. The product is durable, a nice color, and comfortable even on long hikes. It becomes an extension of me while hiking, and almost never leaves my back.
Water + Electrolytes
Pack enough water for length of trip, time of day, and climate. Electrolytes are important for replenishing your body with the nutrients that its losing during your hike. I like the Nuun Energy Hydration Tablets because they are tasty, have caffeine, and are not as sugary as regular sports drinks. The caffeine and the 5 B-vitamins boost your performance and mental focus on your activity. I also like the fact that the tablets are also better for the environment than typical sports drink bottles– one tube prevents the need for ten 16oz plastic bottles from sugar-ADE sport drinks.
Right now, Cherry Limeade is my favorite flavor!
Sun Protection: Sun Block, Sunglasses & Lightweight Hat
Sun protection is very important– no matter the season. Always remember to apply sunblock/suncreen frequently and liberally. I generally remember at the start of our hike, and forget when it comes to the hike down. Oops. 🙁
Brighton and I have differing opinions on which trail snacks are the best, but one we can agree on is the KIND Oats & Honey with Toasted Coconut bars. They are the perfect size for eating on the run, they’re not too dry or dense, and they’re tasty! The best part is that KIND’s mission is to produce healthy options with ingredients you can pronounce, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Communication and Navigation: Map, Phone & GPS
Whether its to take photos or for an emergency situation, it’s always a good idea to bring your cell phone. If you own or can afford a GPS unit, they are quite helpful for times when you are unsure of your direction. I typically stay on well-marked trails, which help immensely. If you’re out in the backcountry or in an unfamiliar area, bring a map or GPS!
Another option is a device that can send your friends or family back home updates. I’ve heard great things about Spot. It’s a GPS Satellite Messenger system that you can use to contact emergency help or your friends and family.
Tip: You can download maps offline from Google Maps on your phone to take with you even when you aren’t connected to cellular data or WiFi.
Bonus: Camera & Accessories
I love my camera! It’s no doubt one of my essentials while hiking. I can’t stand missing a great shot because I didn’t have a great camera to take it! In 2014, I retired my previous DSLR the Canon Rebel XS, and got a brand new baby: the Canon Rebel T5i!
This camera is great for Brighton and I right now. It’s ideal for novice to intermediate photographers who like the ability to use all of the manual settings, but also have automatic settings for casual environments as well.
I also like the GoPro for situations where I’m hesitant to take our “baby”. We got a great deal on a GoPro Hero 3+ during a Black Friday a year or so ago. It’s great for what we need it to do, and situations where I want a wide-angle shot. I recommend getting a LCD touch screen back for it– We have the BacPac. It’s a lifesaver! It makes the camera way more functional. The only downside on this one is that our housing for this is either not waterproof (for the touchscreen part) or you cannot touch the screen (if you have a waterproof housing on). It still works for viewing the photos and what you are taking a photo of before taking it, which is nice.
Day hiking gear also varies based on your personal preferences, and of course the hike itself. For virtually all of our hikes, we will bring these basics when packing our daypacks.