The 10 Essentials for Hiking - What to Bring on a Day Hike [Hiking Safety]

If you’ve ever asked yourself - “what do I need to go hiking” - you’re in the right place!

When it comes to day hiking, it’s very important to be prepared.

If you’re a beginner hiker, this post contains what’s called “the 10 essential systems” for hiking.

The Ten Essentials List for Hiking. Learn what to pack on a day hike.

These are the things that you want to pack on every hike.

If something unexpected happens, or if you have to stay out longer than expected, you’ll be very glad you packed these ten essentials.

It might seem like a lot at first, but most of this gear is small and light, so it wont take up too much space in your pack or weigh you down.

Start by watching this video where I go over the ten essentials for hiking:


Note: The below links may contain affiliate links.


It’s important to be able to navigate on your hike.

Pack a map and compass, and make sure you know how to use them.

In addition, you could bring a GPS device, altimeter watch, or a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB).


You always want to carry a first aid kit.

This kit ideally includes treatment for blisters, bandages of various sizes for cuts, gauze pads, antibiotic ointments, over the counter pain medications, and nitrile gloves.

I personally also like to add tweezers, Tenacious Tape and bug spray to my hiking first aid kits.

The size of your first aid kit should be adjusted based on the size of your hiking group and the duration of your hike.

Pro Tip: Make sure that you check your first aid kit for components that have expired, and replace them accordingly.


Incase of an emergency, you want to make sure you have a reliable way of starting and maintaining a fire.

Here are a few fire starter options:


Sun protection is very important when you’re hiking.

It’s not enough to put sunscreen on before your hike, and call it good.

Make sure you have items in your pack so that you can keep protecting yourself throughout the hike.

This includes sunscreen, a hat, sun protective clothing, SPF chapstick, and sunglasses.

This is my favorite hike shirt with UPF protection: Patagonia Sunshade Hooded Shirt


Most likely you won’t need a headlamp for a day hike, but if you do, you’ll be so thankful you have it!

A headlamp can be crucial if your hike takes longer than expected and you have to hike out in the dark.

These are the two headlamps that I own:

  • Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp - This is my main headlamp that I use a lot for backpacking. It’s expensive, but durable and the batteries are rechargeable.

  • Black Diamond SpotLite - This is the headlamp I pack on a lot of my day hikes. It’s a lot cheaper, but not as powerful as the ReVolt headlamp above.


A knife can be helpful for so many things - first aid, preparing food, fixing gear, making kindling for fire, and emergencies situations.

I personally opt for a multitool, which not only has a knife, but a few other potentially useful tools all in one place.

This is the one I use: Leatherman Juice Multi-tool.


An emergency shelter can be used to protect yourself from the elements like wind and rain if you get stranded out on the trail.

Some examples of an emergency shelter are - an emergency space blanket, an ultralight tarp, or an extra large trash bag.

This is the emergency blanket I carry: Adventure Medical SOL Emergency Blanket


Hydration is crucial.

Make sure you have enough water and that you have a way to treat/filter water when you’re out on the trail incase you run out, or need to stay out longer than expected.

My personal favorite method for this is the Sawyer Squeeze system.

It’s small, lightweight and absolutely perfect for a day hike. I also use it on longer backpacking trips.

Pro Tip: Use a water reservoir instead of water bottles. If the water reservoir hose is right by your face, you’ll sip on water a lot more frequently throughout your hike than if you have to dig a water bottle out of your pack.


Always pack more food than you think you’ll need.

For a day hike, the rule of thumb is to pack an extra days worth of food.

I typically pack extra energy bars, trail mix, jerky and dried fruits.

You can even pack an extra dehydrated backpacking meal just in case.


You need to pack extra clothing.

How much depends on things like where you’re hiking, the weather, and the time of year.

Weather can change fast in the mountains and desert, so it’s important to think through the layers you might need if that happens.

At the very least, I always like to carry a rain jacket and an extra puffy jacket for my upper body.

What to bring on a day hike - these are the ten essentials for day hiking


Make sure you pack the day hiking essentials on every hike!

Things like the duration, weather, difficulty, and distance of the hike should be taken into account when choosing your gear.

Also, make sure you know how to use all the gear you pack!

For example, a water filter will do you no good if you don’t know how to use it. A compass and map will not help you navigate if you don’t know how to use them!

If you have any questions, just let me know in the comments below!

See you out there!


These are the 10 essentials that every hiker should always pack on a day hike.
What to pack for a day hike - these are the 10 essentials for day hiking! [complete list]
The 10 Essentials List for Hiking - Don't leave home without packing these items!