Day Hike

by HikerGuide

In the hiking community there are 10 essentials that you should always have packed when you venture out. Water, food, appropriate clothes, a flashlight, a first aid kit, a fire starter, a pocketknife, sun protection, a compass, and a map. With these 10 essentials you'll have what you need to enjoy your hike and be prepared if an emergency were to occur.

Beyond the essentials, a bag for all your gear and some adequate footwear are well advised. You may also want to bring your cell phone and a camera but those both depend on your goals when you venture out into nature. The last thing I'll recommend is a positive outlook, fresh air is great but your hike will only be as fun as you choose to make it!

Backpack
Backpack

You'll need a bag to pack your 10 essentials in. Some key things to look for in a good bag are supportive shoulder straps, a sternum strap, ventilated back panel, and waist strap. The Osprey Talon pack has all the support features you'd expect from a good quality backpack, its important to have this since it will distribute the pack weight better and make your load feel lighter. This backpack is also very light weight, water resistant, has adjustable straps to fit your torso length better, a hydration compartment for a bladder system, and has a variety of additional storage space.

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Water
Water Reservoir

If you go with the Osprey backpack or another backpack with a hydration sleeve I recommend you use it. Using a reservoir is far more convenient and allows you to carry a lot more water without taking up valuable space. The Talon 22L has room for a 3L reservoir so you may as well take advantage of its capacity. Just remember that you don't need to fill the entire thing if you're going on a shorter hike and would prefer to not deal with the additional weight.

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Water
Water Bottle

No matter how long your hike is, you should NEVER go without water. It is the most essential of the 10 essential items for hiking. If you forego the water reservoir, I'd recommend going with a wide mouth Nalgene because its BPA-free, easy to clean, and fits most water filters.

You may want to consider packing some iodine tablets with you incase you find yourself needing to refill your water bottle during an emergency. Portable Aqua tablets are relatively inexpensive, effective, and don't add any bulk.

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Compass
Compass

A compass shouldn't be necessary on your average day hike but you should take one anyway, you don't want to get caught in the woods without it. The Suunto A-10 is a reliable, inexpensive option.

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Flashlight
Flashlight

This little guy is rated for 20 hours of light, is reasonably bright, durable, waterproof, and it floats; you're not going to get much better for $8. Do yourself a favor and make sure this is packed anytime you go out, if a hike runs long you don't want to be stuck fumbling around in the dark. I'll also add that you'd be wise to get in the habit of packing an extra set of batteries.

If you'd prefer to have your hands free in emergency situations, you can opt for a headlamp. Having a secondary light in case your flashlight fails is a good idea anyway. If you'd like to pick up a headlamp I'd recommend the Energizer Trailfinder.

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First
First Aid Kit

Theres no understating the importance of a first aid kit. If you decide to carry a kit you already own make sure it has some sort of blister specific padding. If not, you should really pick up some Moleskin pads. Blisters will be the most frequent injury you'll want to combat while hiking, make sure you go prepared.

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Reliable
Reliable Matches

Having the ability to produce fire is extremely important if you find yourself isolated in the outdoors. These Stormproof matches from UCO are easy to use and very reliable. Keep in mind that although they can continue to burn while wet, they do not light well wet so keeping them in a waterproof container is ideal. Its also worth noting that these are not strike anywhere matches so you will need to ensure you have a strike pad on you to take advantage of them.

There are a variety of fire starting options besides matches that all have their pros and cons. A lighter is easy to use but more prone to failure. A magnesium firestarter can be a bit tedious but its a very reliable option. A flint firestarter is another good, reliable option although you need to be more adept at using kindling in order to start a fire with only flint. Which option you choose can be a matter of personal preference but if you go with matches or a lighter, it is recommended you bring an alternate fire starter just in case.

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Hiking
Hiking Boots

For day hikes, a lightweight hiking boot is the ideal footwear. Hiking boots are highly recommended over tennis shoes because of their improved ankle support and traction. These boots in particular have an additional bonus, their Gore-Tex lining makes them waterproof which can make hiking through mudded areas much more pleasant.

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Pocket
Pocket Knife

A multitool pocket knife is a versatile and important addition to any hikers pack. Gerber's Suspesension Multi-Pliers are as good an option as any and very reasonably priced.

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Sun
Sun Protection

Regardless of the terrain and weather you should be mindful of the sun. Sunscreen, sunglasses, lip balm, and a hat are all good things to have on you when you head out on your hike.

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Hiking
Hiking Pants

I'm a fan of convertible pants for hiking because of their versatility. As long as you are wearing something appropriate for the weather that wicks well you should be fine.

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Jacket
Jacket

When it comes to your outwear you need to account for the weather and keep in mind that as you go up in elevation it does get cooler. Layering is important and you should always consider brining along an extra layer or two incase temperatures drop faster than expected or inclement weather rolls in unexpectedly.

Having said that, Marmot's Windshirt is a great all around jacket. Its lightweight, easy to pack, breathable, wicks relatively well, has a thin fleece lining providing a decent amount of insulation, and its both wind and water resistant. If you had to have one jacket to satisfy your hiking needs, this is versatile enough to fit the bill.

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Socks
Socks

Blisters are a hiker's arch nemesis and socks are your first line of defense. You should look for wool or synthetic fabrics with good wicking because less sweat means less blisters.

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Food
Food

You don't want to get stuck in the woods without a snack! Seriously though, don't leave without food. The last thing you want to do is ruin your hiking trip because you were hungry the whole way back. And any good hiker will tell you to pack a little extra, just in case.

Any non-perishables are decent choices for hiking. Fresh fruit, bagels, string cheese, nuts, jerky, crackers, granola bars, candy, dried fruits, and pop tarts are a few of the go to snacks for hikers. Feel free to change it up a bit, theres no reason to force yourself to eat trail mix all day just because you're hiking a trail

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Hiking
Hiking Poles

While not for everyone, hiking poles have become much more popular in recent years and with good reason. Hiking poles reduce the punishment your joints receive when going downhill, take a little load off of your legs, and improve your balance when going over uneven ground. Good hiking poles like these are telescopic and shock absorbing which makes them easy on the joints and easy to pack.

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Bug
Bug repellent

You're going to be stomping around in the woods, bug repellent is pretty self explanatory. Always go with DEET unless you have a specific reason not to and I recommend going with a lotion because DEET can be harmful to your gear. However, if you would really prefer to go with a spray here is the same formula in spray form.

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