What to Pack for a Day Hike
We’re big fans of a day hike. Not only does a walk in the woods combine a much-needed dose of fresh air with the beauty and sounds of nature *plus* it gets our bodies moving, but it also helps reset our mental state and fill us with gratitude for our active lives. Silver Hills co-founders Kathy and Stan Smith take a hike every weekend, rain, snow, or sunshine. Here are some day hike essentials so you can hit the trail, too.
The Right Footwear
A successful hike starts with the right footwear. That means chafe-free socks and grippy hiking boots or shoes—not runners or flip-flops. Keeping your feet happy is key to making it through your hike and enjoying the day.
A Light Backpack
Bring a light and supportive pack that can carry layers, snacks, hydration, and other essentials. Not sure how to find the right pack for you? We suggest following one of these guides on how to choose and fit a backpack from outdoor co-ops MEC (Canada) and REI (United States).
A Healthy Lunch
Whether you’re doing a loop-style hike or an out-and-back mission, there will inevitably be a halfway point (hopefully with an amazing view or a peaceful meadow) that is a great spot to refuel. We like to time our hikes to lunch halfway through and power back up with a sandwich (in fact, we make the ultimate plant-based alpine sandwich for just that reason).
Everyone’s body is different and requires more or less fuel per hike. Always pack some healthy snacks with you, such as a granola or protein bar, fresh fruit, or some homemade trail mix.
Sun and Bug Protection
Sun safety is paramount, even when you’re in the shade. To shield yourself from harmful UV rays, pack a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, and bring light layers with long sleeves. Don’t forget your hat and some mosquito repellant.
Water, Water, and More Water
Dehydration can sneak up on you easily on the trail. Since it’s unlikely there are safe filtered water sources on your hike, be sure to pack plenty of water (we like hydration sleeves that fit right into your backpack). Pro tip: keep a water bottle in a shady spot in your car for the drive home.
In addition to always letting someone how your hiking plans, it’s a good idea to take a compass, watch, map or gps device, whistle, lighter or matches, and a light. A small first aid kit can also be very helpful in a pinch. Don’t forget to check your batteries before you go!
Whether you’re a bird watcher or fancy yourself a bit of an artist (or you just like to sit back and enjoy nature), there are a few extras that can make your hike extra fun. Consider bringing some binoculars, a notebook or sketchbook with a pencil or pen, or even a light, packable hammock to rest between some trees.
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