When packing for a day hike, make sure to research your area and take into consideration the current temperatures and weather forecast. Also, be prepared to stay out longer than planned, as you never know what will happen that could delay your return.
Map – Carry a detailed map of the area, and plan your route. Check your progress regularly, using signs or landmarks so that you always know where you are.
Compass – Carry a compass and learn how to use it correctly. You may not have cell phone service way out on the trail, so do not depend on your phones navigation.
With these two basic items, you will always be able to determine your exact location and find a route out if you should become disorientated or get off the trail. Cell phones, GPS and other devices can be useful but they should not be depended on as they can run out of battery leaving you stranded.
Hat – Protecting your face and neck will make for a more pleasurable experience. Hats provide shade for your face, body and head.
Clothing – Invest in a long sleeved shirt with sun protection for really sunny conditions. Use purpose designed base clothing made of Merino wool or synthetic blends which wick water and perspiration away from the skin for comfort and to avoid getting cold. Use various layers for changing climatic conditions.
Sunscreen – Apply at regular intervals.
Lip balm – Keep it handy and apply liberally. Cracked lips hurt.
Sunglasses – Use in both sunny and snowy conditions.
First aid supplies
Carry a small but comprehensive first aid kit with you at all times. You never know what will happen.
You wont be able to enjoy your surroundings if you’re constantly getting bit by mosquitoes or no-see-ums. Always bring some bug spray.
Water bottles – You need to drink one quart of water every hour of hiking. Water is heavy to carry but plan on taking a sufficient amount to cover your needs for the day.
Water purifiers – If you don’t want to carry your water in and there are natural sources of water along the trail, make sure to purchase water purifying tablets or a small efficient filter. If you get delayed, this will ensure you can safely drink water from streams or lakes.
Healthy energy packed snacks – Pack a sandwich and an assortment of meals, snacks, like dried fruits, nuts, chocolate, granola and energy bars. Hiking burns up calories fast and small regular snacks will keep your energy up.
Even if you are not planning on cooking or being out after dark always carry a way to light a fire, such as a Zippo or weatherproof matches. In an emergency, it can provide you with warmth, safety and a way to purify water.
Make sure to bring a flash light or headlamp . It can get really dark really quick if you stay out too late.