Going on a day excursion is a great opportunity to get outdoors with your family and friends or even just by yourself. If you’re looking to venture deeper into the hills or remain close to your home, the options to visit are endless National parks and state parks have extensive networks of trails, and so does the national forest area.

To figure out what you’ll need to carry when you go on a hike, consider how far you’re planning to walk, how far from the area is, and what the forecast for weather will bring. The farther and/or further away from the hike and the more chilly the weather is the more gear, clothing, food, and water you’ll need. If you’re new to day hikes, go through our hiking For Beginners article before heading out.


What to Bring Day Hiking

The following items should be on the list of items to take hiking:

  • Hiking backpack for hiking
  • Wearing appropriate clothing for the weather (think layers with moisture-wicking properties and layers)
  • Hiking Shoes or boots
  • Plenty of food
  • Plenty of water
  • Instruments for navigation like a Map or Compass
  • First-aid kit
  • Multi-tool or knife

Hiking Gear

A backpack should be your main item of equipment for daytime walking. A backpack that can hold 11-20 liters worth of gear is adequate for shorter, easy treks. A larger backpack is ideal for longer hikes in which more water, food equipment, clothing, and other gear such as ropes and prusik cords are essential.

Clothing and Footwear

Study the forecast and make sure to dress according to the conditions. To be prepared for changing weather or an unplanned night out, pack extra clothes beyond those required for the trip. It’s also necessary to consider how much protection your clothing provides against the sun’s ultraviolet rays. For footwear, decide what to wear based on the terrain. Hiking shoes or trail runners are sufficient on gentle hikes on smooth trails. Trekking boots will provide more support for treks on rocky, rugged trails.

Food & Water

Pack snacks like energy bars, jerky, and nuts that you can eat easily on the trail. Some people like to bring a sandwich for lunch, too. For water, you can usually start with about two liters per person for the day, but adjust the amount depending on the length and intensity of the hike, weather conditions, age, sweat rate, and body type.


Navigation is one of the Ten Essentials. The type of trip you’re taking and your personal preferences will determine exactly which items you’ll bring.