What to Bring on a Day Hike- 10 Best Items

One of my many passions is hiking, and along with hiking, I make sure that I have a backpack filled with items that can help support me if any situation on my hike occurs or if I end up spending an unexpected night in the outdoors.

I cannot emphasize this enough, DO NOT go hiking without being prepared! Just hiking with a water bottle and your cell phone is not enough to keep you safe.

This what to bring on a day hike list is intended for someone who plans to be done hiking and back to their home or campsite by nightfall. It is not intended for those who are planning on hiking for multiple days or overnight.

Day Hiking Essentials Checklist

Proper planning and preparation are necessary anytime you venture into the great outdoors.

Here are my suggestions for what to pack on your day hike and the best brands for some items. You maybe use to not bringing many items with you on your hike, yet I urge you to have at minimum the items on this list.

You never know when your trip can have an unexpected twist!

  1. A Comfortable Backpack. I suggest the Black Hawk Multifunction Backpack
  2. Flashlight- I prefer the GearLight Tactical Flashlight, but you can read here a list of flashlights to consider bringing on your hike. And no, your cell phone flashlight does NOT count as your flashlight because it is too unreliable and will quickly drain your phone’s battery life.
  3. Fire Starter If you get stuck in a cold-weather condition or unexpectedly have to stay a night outdoors, having something to easily start a fire with is a must-have item.
  4. Filtered Water Bottle I LOVE anything Lifestraw but especially the LifeStraw water bottle because it has a built-in water filtration system. You can get water from any water source including streams and rivers and it will filter out All the harmful bacteria allowing you to immediately drink the water. I have an in-depth article about the importance of filtered water which has tons more info about how awesome LifeStraws can be.
  5. First Aid Kit- Any small and compact first aid kit will suffice.
  6. Food- what you pack will vary on the length of your hike.
  7. Insect Repellent
  8. Trekking PolesGreat for any hike and can be especially helpful on a change of terrain.
  9. Insulation- Weather can change quickly on any hiking trip, so I always recommend bringing an extra insulation clothing layer or emergency blanket, even on warm weather trips.
  10. Emergency Shelter- even if you are planning to only hike for a day it is smart to bring an emergency shelter with you because you never know if you will have to unexpectedly have to spend a night outside.

Of course the hiking gear you’ll need will vary according to the type of hiking you’ve planned: the length of your hike, the time of year, at well at the destination, and the terrain you’ll be traveling over.

My Personal Favorite Hiking Spots

I love hiking and have hiked several places in Virginia, New York, and even in Kenya!

There are a lot of great hiking spots in Virginia, especially in the Blue Ridge Mountain range. One very memorable hiking spot was Devil’s Marbleyard. The hike is just as intimidating at the name. The hike itself is 11.3 miles with a 2,280 elevation gain. The reason why it got ‘devil’ in its name is that for a good portion of the hike you are climbing up and over a huge section of boulders. This hike is not for the faint of heart, but is well worth the experience!

Devil's Marbleyard

Another great hiking spot in Virginia is Dragon’s tooth. It has a full panoramic view. In addition to a great view, you will also find rocks to climb on and explore at the top. The hike itself is 5.7 miles with a 1,505 elevation gain.

Dragon's tooth hike

My last hiking spot tip is for those of you who ever have the pleasure to travel to Kenya. In 2015, I had the chance to hike Mount Longonot in Kenya. Mount Longonot is an extinct volcano that provides a unique view of a thick forest that lies within the crater of the mountain. The crater rim also provides great scenic views across the beautiful Rift Valley all the way to Lake Naivasha. Major wildlife attractions at Mount Longonot include buffaloes, elands, lions, leopards, bushbucks, common zebra, giraffes, and gazelles.

mount longonot

Enjoy Your Next Hike

I hope you have enjoyed learning about what to bring on a day hike and a few great hiking spots in Virginia and even in Kenya.

I wish you the best as you continue making your own adventures.

Where is your favorite place to hike?

Are there any other items you would add to this day hiking essentials list?

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1 thought on “What to Bring on a Day Hike- 10 Best Items

  1. Haley says:

    This has me itching to amp up my hiking game. I am definitely a beginner hiker, but that Kenya location looks AMAZING! I have lived in Chattanooga where I did 2-3 mile hiking and I’ve just moved to Little Rock where I’ve only tried 1-2 mile hiking but attempting a 5 mile hike it something I’m definitely interested in. I love that you kept your recommendations precise and simple and then shared your journeys! 


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