Throwback to my first hike, when I was so excited that I loaded my backpack completely. After getting there, it seemed to me that the sun burned me with its heat. And I was looking for protection in the bag. But it refused me with a hard sorry as I didn’t include it in my list. Then it was too late to realize that I loaded the backpack with many unnecessary things that were good for nothing with increasing the weight. So, to not doing these types of a mistake it is essential to know what to bring on a short hike.

I would like to do a short hike that ends within a couple of hours. A day hike doesn’t require so many things. Just take some essentials to explore nature shortly. In this article, we would go to make an essential list that is best for day hiking. If you are a starter, then first know the “beginner hiking tips” before entering the day hiking checklist.

a group of hiker walking with backpack with Things for a short hike

Essential Things to Bring on a Short Hike

You know, many people think “the more hiking things I have, the more pleasure and safety I will earn”. This is absolute bullshit. Trust me you don’t require so many things for a short hike. From my previous hiking in different circumstances, I will provide here an easy day hiking checklist that is enough for exploring. It will seem to be a long list, but actually, it is not. So let’s start to reveal.

1. Backpack

First search “where to keep the things on a day hike” skipping “what to bring on a short hike”. And the answer is “a perfect Backpack”. The backpack is the first essential you should keep.

So what types of backpacks do I require? Well, you can use a usual bag like a college bag. It is not necessary to have a special or huge backpack. But make sure that it can capable to hold all your things. And also confirm the facility of hips tieing. So choose yours according to those facilities and weatherproofing.

2. Clothing

Practically many hikers don’t think about maintaining their dress-up even if I was too. But during my hiking on Georgia trails, I realized that I was wrong. Trust me, you will suffer more by choosing the wrong dress-up. So for comfortable hiking, it is essential to know what you should wear hiking.

According to the weather, hiking clothes have two categories. One is a dress for summer and another is for winter. So let’s talk about those.

For summer: During summer hiking you have to use cotton and also linen. A lightweight and light color is preferable. It is wise to wear a loose fit and a breathable shirt, a t-shirt, and shorts in summer. A shortlist is given below.

  • Light color drying pants
  • Shirt (moisture-wicking)
  • T-shirt
  • Underwear (fast dying)

For Rainy Season: Rain can ruin your trip all of a sudden. So, if it is a rainy season, or has a big chance of rain then it is a good idea to have some rainy wear. To deal with rainy days, you have to prepare for it.

  • Rain Coat
  • Rain Jacket
  • Rainproof Blanket

For winter: And the winter! Yeah, you have to be more careful about winter hiking clothes. It can be ruined your whole hiking. In winter, cotton is must forbidden. Try to use layers. Avoid tight wear and make sure that your all skin can cover well. So take a short look at the winter hiking dress-up.

  • Warm jacket
  • Fleece pant
  • Underwear (long)
  • Hand gloves
  • Gaiters
  • Hat (warm)

So those are the simple and effective clothes list for a day hiking. And hope those will never make you down in any weather.

3. Footwear (Shoes and Socks)

You know, footwear is the one that never leaves you on the whole journey. So as a best buddy, you should carefully choose those. 

If you will go for a long then special hiking shoes or boots would be required. But for a day hike, you can use normal shoes as you will hike just for a few hours. Choose your shoes by justifying lightweight, supportive, breathable, and comfortable. Make sure, the footwear has leg injury protective like Achilles or other heel problem proof. Duck boots are not good for hiking but are okay to use. For me, Nike is the first choice.

And socks are also important. Wool socks are favorable because of the temperature and cushion. For emergency cases, it is good to have extra socks.

Water sandals are optional. Hiking sandals have good uses in summer and water conditions. Moreover, sandal helps to occur fewer blisters. So, researching your backpack capability and weather, you can keep it.

Remember one thing, hiking is a kind of walking, if you are not comfortable with your footwear then your hiking expectation would be in vain. So, keep more attention to choosing the perfect footwear.

4. Hiking Tools

The tools and other things that have a use in terms of hiking are known as hiking tools. They are explained there.

Multi-tools: Whenever I went for a hike, I never do the mistake of not carrying these multi-tools or knives. It has many brutal uses you don’t imagine. “Swiss Army Tinker” is a worthy one to handle any situation.

Repairing tools: Duct tape, cable ties, knives, nylon cords, etc are known as repairing tools or kits that have multiple uses in hiking.

Camera: I think it is not necessary to tell you about the use of a camera. To capture your moment with nature by having a camera. A smartphone can be an alternative to it. Remember, it is a must to charge fully of your phone before leaving the home.

5. Sun and Health Protection

Remember, “keeping your physical health fit, you can fit with your hiking trails”. During trail walking, you may face brutal sun heat and other health issues. So, put those into your backpack as a means of sun and health protection.

Sunscreen: To protect your skin from burning (sun heat) sunscreen works a vital role. So apply this before you hit on the hiking trail. Be careful about maintaining SPF. In this term, lip balm is the ideal one.

Sunglass: You know sunglasses work as “two killings by one stone”. Sunglass protects your eyes and snow blinding as well gives you a cool look. So don’t forget to have a trendy one.

Hat: To save your head from sun heating or cold feeling (in winter), a hat is a great way. Choose your hat according to the weather.

Hand Sanitizer: As you have to deal with many jobs with your hands on the trails and also there is a matter of eating, so it is essential to keep far away from germs and viruses. And hand sanitizer does this job perfectly. Not only this but with the recent pandemic, do you think without hand sanitizer? I hope you don’t. So include this one in your pack.

Medicines: To be aware of hygiene and for any health issues, take essential medicines you think to keep. If you have prescribed medicines then don’t forget to take them. If you have a fear of blisters then you should be prepared previously about treatments or medicines.

6. Navigation

Many beginners ask me, “why it is essential to keep navigation though we have GSP smartphones”. Well, there are a lot of reasons. Those navigations are lightweight, reliable, and don’t put you down in terms of battery. So let’s figure out the listed navigation materials.

Map: As the trail intersects with other trails, it is much more important to have a map. Print a map from your computer and take deep research about the trail before you go. It also determines where the resting area or photo-taking area is.

Compass: The compass is also another important navigation. Compass guide you about wrong or right turns. It helps back to the starter point or enter deep. But first, you have to learn about compass working. If it is already done then research it with the map.

Headlamp or flashlight: Nothing can be surely said about nature. Any time storms or bad weather can appear. Also, you have too late by finishing a short hike. In that situation, a flashlight can be a good option. Are you thinking about phone flash? Unfortunately, a phone flashlight isn’t enough to solve your problem. Again there has been a battery dead issue. So, try to take a headlamp or flashlight on your trip.

7. Foods and Drinks

Is it important to take food and drinks as I just go for a short hike? Of course, you have to. Short or long whatever, drinks, and foods are a must. So, let’s see what food items you need to bring on a short hike.

Water: Never forget to keep water with you. It is essential to stay hydrated during hiking. Water can do this job properly. Again water will give you the freshness to go ahead. Take enough water bottles for your group in terms of use on trails and after finishing on the car.

Snacks and others: Foods are essential though it’s a day hiking. To boost your energy those can help you more. If you are not planning for lunch, it is a must to have some light food. Snacks are a good option. I usually try energy bars, energy gels, jerks, nuts, chocolates, fruit bars, etc during my short hike. Those not only boost your energy but also give you a chance to chill with eating in nature. However, if you want to gain energy specifically then energy gels will work here great.

8. Emergency Gears

Always thinks about safety and emergency terms before going on any outdoor trips. Short hiking is not beyond it. Emergency kits are essential to bringing on a short hike. Now, know the terms of emergency gear on a day hike.

First-Aid-Kit: Practically I always carry that first-aid kit. Don’t go for huge sizes. There is a pre-packed one that gives you lightweight as well as reliable. In any type of injury or emergency, those have a great need.

Fire Makers: Fire is another vital thing that can be needed in many situations. So keep fire-making things on your list. It does work as a signal in emergency times.

Knee Brace: For leg protection or injured knee you can take the best hiking knee brace on exploring trails safely.

Emergency Shelter: A perfect blanket or plastic bag can be a good shelter. In an emergency or bad nature, you may need shelter and that can help you in the situation. So spend some dollars to have this.

Whistle: Whistle works as an emergency signal by blowing it. And it can go a long distance to hear. Paracord Bracelet is an incredible thing that works as an allrounder such as a whistle, fire starter, knife, etc. So having it can be a real worth of your short hike.

Card and Cash: In emergency and security matters, cards like Credit cards, and identity cards,s, etc have a job. Again, cash is also required in any situation. That’s why you can think about it.

so that’s all about essential day hiking gear.

Optional List for Short Hike

Without the above essentials, some gears are optional but worth having. From my hiking experience, I will guide an optional list below that has minimal uses and is good to take. It’s up to you whether you want to take it or not into your bag.

(i) Buff: To provide warmth to your neck, a buff plays a good role in cold weather.
(ii) A Power Bank: You know how important the smartphone is in emergency times. So, to avoid battery death a power bank can be kept.
(iii) Hiking or trekking pole: Poles do a perfect job when you need extra stability or to stay in a rhythm.
(iv) Guidebook: It will make your way much easier and safer.
(x) Toilet paper: As it is natural terms, products for toilets like paper, Urinary products, etc, are necessary too.
(xi) Insect Repellent: Wildlife isn’t free from bugs and insects,  where repellent stays as a protector.
(xii) Waste bag: As a conscious citizen, it’s your duty to maintain the cleanliness of your surround. And in hiking, a bag for waste bearing will allow you to do such a responsibility.

So finally those are the essential and optional things that you should bring on your short hike. Hope those will properly cover up your hiking trip safely and joyfully.

5 Things You Should Leave on a Day Hike

Like my first camping, don’t do the mistake of packing unnecessary things. The above essential gears are must-haves on your pack. On other hand, there are some gears or things that seem to use for a day hike. But actually, they are not. So what not to pack for a day hike and leave behind is given below.

1. Makeup and Jewelry

What’s the point of taking those in your bag? I think hiking’s not a matter of impressing one or being ready for shooting. So it’s better to leave it at home. By the way, I don’t forbid any simple jewelry (earrings, rings, or else), just suggest avoiding gorgeous ones.

2. White Dresses

As I recommend light-color pants or shirts, that doesn’t mean I mostly suggest a white one. You know, the white color of clothes can be changed into another dirty color by the mud on the trail. And this is embarrassing to explore in dirty clothes. So, it’s not a forbidden one, just an awareness one about his cleanness.

3. Cooking Ware

As it’s a day hiking, it’s unnecessary to have some cooking shits. If you want to cook in this type of hiking, then that kills your time as well as enjoyment. Just take some light foods and drink for lunch or just eat. Or you can follow the camping food ideas without cooking.

4. Folding Chair

That doesn’t suit hiking for a day. So why do you spend extra dollars as well as extra keeping space for it? No way. Just leave it.

5. Extra Clothes and Jeans

The maximum time I packed was more than two t-shirts (for no reason) and the savage thing was those stay the same as the packing time. So don’t pack extra clothes to load your backpack.

And try to avoid jeans. It doesn’t give you much comfort walking on the trail. So remember those hiking tips on your mind.

FAQ About “A Short Hiking”

What types of shoes are perfect for short hiking?

Normal running shoes or hiking shoes are best to explore day hiking on the trails. Hiking boots are also a good option. Women’s and men’s hiking boot differences have existed. So select those carefully.

What should the size of the daypack be?

For a day, you needn’t carry a large bag. Usually, 35 liters is a perfect size.

Should I be concerned about wild animals?

Many trails have dangerous wild animals like bears and they can harm you, unfortunately. So, research if you aren’t sure your hiking trails are wild-animals-free.

Do I need a rain cover for my backpack?

If your journey time is in the rainy season then it is good to take this. It saves your gears from getting wet as well as protects them from getting torn.

Is a pole essential for a quick hike?

Pole is optional in this condition. It helps you to control balance. So it can’t be a bad idea to have this. Isn’t it?


That’s all! Does it look long for a day of hiking essentials? Don’t panic, they don’t look so.
Hope you got your desired solution about what to bring on a short hike. Now, what next? Be prepared and count down the days when you will hit the hiking trail.

Categories: Hiking

Noah Lam

Noah Lam, is passionate about outdoor recreations, bridging the gap between generations, and sharing his passion for hiking and camping. As an outdoor explorer, he has been to more than forty countries and hiked some of the most intangible trails in the world. His goal is to spread the endless benefits of being a camper and hiker, new challenges, always striving for better performance and ways to explore responsibly.