Wondering what to pack for a hike? I got you covered. After having had outdoorsy adventures in Europe and the USA, I can surely share my hiking packing list with you. Many of the products listed in this guide are trusted, and handpicked by me.
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Hiking Packing List: What to pack for a hike
I can finally start dreaming again of our long-awaited vacation – even a short hiking adventure excites me so much.
But after all this time, do we even know how to pack our bags? I have created this hiking trip packing list, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting something while packing.
For any hiking trip, it is essential to pack the right things for a comfortable and a safe trip outdoors. Safety is key, so is having fun in the wilderness!
What to pack for a hike – Quick list of things to pack
☐ Daypack (preferably waterproof)
☐ Emergency first aid kit
☐ Compass, or/and trail maps
☐ Water and reusable water bottle
☐ Food – healthy snacks
☐ Leatherman/ knife or multi-tool
☐ Bug spray, mosquito repellent
☐ Wear moisture-wicking clothes
☐ Hiking shoes
☐ Hiking socks
☐ Electronics list
☐ Cash, credit card, wallet
☐ Travel documents, national park pass, permits
☐ Trekking poles
If you need a printable version of this hiking packing list – you will find that at the bottom of this post.
So let’s get started with hiking trip preparation:
1. Waterproof day pack for hikes
First off, you will need a sturdy backpack to carry all of your day-hike essentials. Opt for something that is not more than 25 L, and is waterproof (or at least made of water-resistant material).
I enjoy carrying my backpack which is all of 13 L and comes in a variety of colors. The backpack has adjustable and padded shoulder straps that ensure a great fit and is comfortable to wear on longer hikes.
I love that it has water-resistant zippers, and organizational pockets to keep little things in place (and easy to find).
2. Packing Cubes
Keep your backpack organized with the ultra-light translucent Pack-It Isolate Cube Set. They provide ultra-light organization and peace of mind that sweaty, stinky clothes will stay contained during your hike.
Click here to read more about packing cubes.
Now inside the hiking day pack, you will be carrying the following items:
3. Emergency first aid kit
As I mentioned, safety first. Do carry a first aid kit with you at all times.
You can easily purchase a compact first aid kit with about 110-220 different pieces included inside. It has a band-aid, alcohol wipes, cotton, etc to treat small wounds and cuts.
On the day of your hike, ensure it is one of your items on the hiking gear list.
Click to read more about the emergency first aid kit here.
4. Compass, and trail maps
When you are ready for your hiking adventure, I am sure you must have selected a park, a trail, or a route that you wish to embark on.
Depending on materials accessible to you, include the following in your hiking checklist
- Trail Maps/routes: You can download electronic maps or trail routes on your phone (AllTrails.com or state parks). Ensure it is fully downloaded and available for you on your trails, as WIFI is weak in the foods. Hard Copies of maps are also helpful
- Compass: A compass is always handy. You may or may not use it if its a heavily trafficked trail, and there is clear signage available – but it is always a handy item in your hiking gear list
5. Refillable or reusable water bottles
Water is a necessity on your hikes. I use this reusable bottle, which is BPA-free and keeps my drink cold (or hot) for hours. You will love that this bottle is also 100% leakproof, so no leaks whatsoever inside the daypack or on the trails.
Click to view the water bottle here.
You might also like Reusable Coffee Cup.
6. Food – Fruits, and healthy snacks
Whether it is a short hike, a walk in the park, or a day-long strenuous hike, I highly recommend carrying some healthy snacks on your trails. You can pack a nutritious health bar, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, and trail mix.
You can also take bananas or apples on your hikes.
7. Small knife or multi-tool
When exploring the outdoors, you may face unfavorable things, and for your safety, a small knife is super handy.
Nature is sometimes unpredictable, and a pocket knife is a reliable tool to have in your day hike packing list. Pocket knives or folding knives are compact, and they don’t take up much space inside your backpack. My personal favorite is a Leatherman.
8. Sunscreen for sun protection
Protect yourself from the harsh sun rays, and don’t forget to apply sunscreen when you hit the trails.
EQ is made in France and this sunscreen is all you need. It is water-resistant and provides protection up to SPF 50 – UVA/UVB. It is eco and ocean-friendly.
Made of natural ingredients, it is safe for all skin types, and for the entire family, including children three years and above.
Click to buy this awesome sunscreen here.
9. Bug spray, and mosquito repellent
The forested trails are known for their beauty, but the further you go deeper into the woods the more risk of being bitten by bugs and /or mosquitoes are common. Spray your face and body liberally with bug and mosquito repellent when you go on hikes. Click here to buy.
10. Other toiletries to pack
Other than the sunscreen, and bug repellent, here are some optional items that you must consider packing for your hiking trip.
- Travel Deodorant: Stay clean and feeling fresh after a sweaty hike, use and carry a travel deodorant. Shop this one from my store.
- Facial / Make-up Remover Wipes: Facial wipes are handy to clean up any dirt and grime accumulated after hours of hiking. Here are reusable organic cotton pads for your hiking trips.
- Roll-on perfume: Smell like a daisy after a hike, apply this roll-on perfume and you are all set!
- Hand sanitizer
- Personal medication
11. What to wear on a hike – moisture-wicking clothes + rain jacket
What you wear on your hikes is equally important, just as what’s inside your daypack. I wear moisture-wicking long sleeve tops on my trails. Longer sleeves provide sun and bug protection, and the wicking fabrics keep your body cool and dry.
Technically, moisture-wicking fabrics take the moisture away from the body and allow it to evaporate easily. Here is an example of a hiking t-shirt that comes with UV protection.
The same goes for your hiking pants or shorts.
A lightweight waterproof jacket is also handy if hiking until late evenings, or when you are on sunset hikes.
Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on your body!
12. Hiking boots or hiking shoes
When you hike, your feet and shoes do the bulk of the work in moving you around. Highly recommend wearing proper hiking boots, instead of casual shoes and sneakers.
Hiking boots are specially constructed to provide comfort for walking long distances and over a prolonged duration. They also protect the feet, provide ankle support when you walk or climb uneven terrain – the grip of the outsole is key.
When you choose your hiking shoes, ensure they properly fit you without being loose or too tight. Try to wear your hiking socks and walk a bit to see how it fits, and if they feel comfortable to you.
My personal favorites are Merrell hiking shoes, these ones in particular.
13. Hicking socks
Just like your moisture-wicking clothes, wear socks that allow your feet to breathe (and keep you comfortable). Neglecting the socks you wear underneath and inside your shoes can spoil your hiking trip.
A good pair of socks will provide support for your feet, and keep them cool and dry, and even prevent blisters. You can choose from merino wool to cotton for your sock material.
14. Quick-dry microfibre travel towel
If you plan to change after a sweaty hike, pack a quick-dry microfibre travel towel. This one is highly absorbent and dries fast. (Plus it is sand-free – perfect for beach trips as well).
It is compact and lightweight, so it won’t take a lot of room inside the daypack. Plus the print is so beautiful.
15. Mouth or face mask
With today’s unprecedented times, a face mask is an essential item to pack.
This mouth mask is made of 3 layers and is washable. You can also wear them reversed. It has white on one side, and pink on the other.
The elastic on the face mask is made of super soft material which makes it easy and comfortable to wear for a long time. Click to buy the mouth mask here.
16. Electronics list
Here are a few electronic devices/items that you may want to consider packing for your trip.
- Power bank: Carry a solar-powered battery pack to charge your electronics on the go, especially your cell phone, and your camera. I recommend having access to 2 power banks and charging cables for day-long hikes and trips.
- Camera: Don’t forget your camera to capture all the marvelous views and shots from your hiking trip. Add your camera charger or charging cable to this list as well.
- Smartphone: Lastly, your cell phone and its charger. Remember to download all the trail maps, and trip directions ahead of time. If you are traveling to another country or city for your hiking adventure, store hotel addresses, and emergency contact numbers for that area/region.
17. Cash, creditcard, wallet
Add your cash, credit cards, or any piece of ID inside your wallet – to this hiking packing list.
18. Travel documents, national park pass, permits
Probably one of the most essential documents to carry are permits or park passes.
If traveling in the US, you will need a National Parks Pass (America the Beautiful), or any state passes. The same goes for national parks in Europe, places like the Plitvice Lakes National Park require tickets to be bought a day in advance (and online). So, definitely check the park entrance fees and requirements.
If flying to another country or region, double-check if you need any extra piece of ID like passport, visa or insurance, and medical certificate.
19. Hiking poles
Trekking or hiking poles are an additional item that might be useful to you. They protect your knees when you are walking down steep hills or uphill. It provides balance on uneven trails.
Highly recommend it if you are on challenging hikes and need some support. These poles will help improve posture, and not strain the legs.
20. Umbrella or poncho
This is an optional item that you may want to consider packing if the weather is unpredictable or if there is a forecast for rain at the national park or city that you are visiting.
Or stick to a waterproof jacket listed above for light showers.
Travel tips for your day hikes
This packing list was created keeping in mind day hiking gear that you must carry. When I plan a trip to a national park for a day, I can easily store all the essentials inside a daypack as listed above.
Then I would add some snacks, sun protection, water, and ensure I got my passes and tickets if any.
Before starting I check the weather and make sure I am prepared. I wear my hiking clothes, shoes and download all the trail maps ahead of time. My daypack has a first aid kit and a compass inside.
I add my smartphone, camera and chargers (plus power bank) to the list. I also ensure all the electronics are charged the night before!
If you are on multi-day hikes, your backpacking gear will be slightly different. Because you will be camping overnight at the park, you must check for permits and reservations.
I would also add a lightweight camping tent, foldable chair, more food, water reservoir, duct tape, toilet paper and a frame backpack (instead of a daypack) so that you are better prepared for the overnight stay.
I hope you found this post useful in preparing for your next hiking adventure. As promised here is a printable version of – hiking checklist in PDF.