What's on your day hiking gear list?
I saw an update from New England challenger Ally, who wrote:
“Hi All, I am a beginner at “solo” hiking, I have been on many guided hikes in VT, and smaller ones which did not need GPS. Do you recommend GPS for these? The trails seem clear enough. What would you recommend is a good gear list for a day hike, neutral weather? Thanks Much!”
I love comparing gear lists, and I’d love to hear what others carry. I’ll kick things off by sharing my list for long day hikes.
- Daypack – size depends on the weather. If I’m hiking in snow, it’s generally larger to handle the extra layers, gloves, hats, microspikes, etc..
- Water – Again it depends on where I’m hiking and whether water is available along the trail. Most of the time, I pre-hydrate well before the hike, and carry 2-3 liters of water. I usually use two Nuun electrolyte tablets in one of the bottles, and alternate between water and electrolytes. I used to carry a hydration bladder, but lately I’ve preferred to take 1-liter Nalgene bottles (generously covered in Six-Pack of Peaks stickers, of course). 😉
- iPhone – I make sure it’s fully-charged before I hit the trail, AND I carry a charging cable and an external battery (just in case). Usually I don’t need the batter for a day hike, but it’s also been really handy a few times. I use my iPhone X to take photos, record video, and record my hike using Gaia GPS. If it’s a trail I haven’t hiked before, I download the GPX tracks for the route I’ve planned, and I download the maps for the trail, plus a bit of the surrounding area.
- Garmin InReach – I usually only carry this on a day hike if I’m in a remote area, or if I’m not sure if there’s cell service. I’ve never had to use the SOS feature, but I have used the text messaging — not on day hikes, but on multi-day backpacking trips.
- Map – Even though I use GaiaGPS on my iPhone as my primary navigation system, I always bring a paper map, and recommend everyone do the same. If things go south, you may need to change your route and a paper map gives you a lot of data in a lightweight, portable format. And it never runs out of batteries.
- Fire starting kit – Basically a small lighter and a small box of matches. Having a way to start a fire if you get stuck out in the wilderness overnight is essential.
- Extra layers – I’m prepared if rain comes in, or if I get stuck outside for a long time. I can layer up or down during the hike. I usually have a micro fleece jacket with hood, a rain jacket, a beanie and lightweight gloves. If it could be colder, I bring along a down puffy.
- Sunglasses, wide-brim hat and sunscreen – My eyeglasses (now needed to read my iPhone) have transitional tinting, but I usually prefer to just wear regular sunglasses when I don’t need to read my iPhone. That way, I’ve essentially got a backup. I have a couple different hats that I can choose from, usually depending on the weather.
- Food – On a long day hike, I might bring a sandwich for the summit, but I always have several snacks for grazing. We usually have some grab-and-go snacks in the pantry (Clif Bars, nuts, etc.). I also like the Clif Bloks energy chews, and typically down two “blocks” every hour.
- Headlamp – It’s seldom used, but you’re really glad you’ve got one when you need it. There have been a few long day hikes where we got back after sunset, and it’s good to have it in the kit.
- Tissues – I usually carry one of those little travel packs of Kleenex. It can double as TP if you need it, or help you start a fire. You can even blow your nose with it, I’m told.
- Buff – I’m a big fan of Buffs. Then can be used as a headband to keep the sweat out of your eyes, or a neck gaiter or face mask if it’s cold.
- Trekking poles – I’m using Cascade Mountain Tech carbon fiber poles with cork handles that you can find at Costco for ~$40.
- Trash bag – I encourage others to Leave No Trace, leading by example. A plastic trash bag can also be used to cover your pack in a rainstorm, or you can cut three holes in it and it’s a poncho (for that friend who DIDN’T bring rain gear).
- First Aid Kit – You can make your own, or get a pre-packaged kit. If you opt for the latter, I suggest supplementing with stuff you use frequently.
That’s off the top of my head, so let me know if you think I’ve left anything out. And let me know what YOU bring.
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