Last updated: March 9, 2017 at 15:07 pm
If you’re planning on spending a day out on the trails with friends or family, it’s important to bring all the necessities to keep you comfortable and safe. What you need for your hike differs depending on the distance and time you’ll take. This checklist aims to put forward a solid base for those planning a day hike of around five to ten hours – either a hill or mountain ascent or trek here in the UK.
Remember, this is a basic checklist that can cover you for a range of situations and conditions. Be sure to check weather forecasts, conditions etc. beforehand and consider whether you need to add or remove items to reflect that. Weight is also a major consideration as you’ll be carrying all of this kit for hours at a stretch, though the general rule as always is that it’s better to have and not need than need and not have.
The Basics for a Day Hike
The size depends on how long you’ll be. A daypack can range from as small as 20 litres up to 50 litres, depending on your needs.
You’ll obviously already be wearing the clothing you need, but it helps to take spares of anything you might need. Also, take accessories like hats, gloves, neck warmers and other items for when they are needed. You can check out our hiking clothing guide here.
Map and Compass (if the hike route is unfamiliar)
An absolute essential for any skill level. Take the time to learn how to use both correctly and always have a solid plan for your route. Also, you should leave details of your route with a friend or family member before you set off so someone is aware of where you are in case of any emergency.
First Aid Kit
A well-stocked first aid kit can help you out for a wide range of ailments, both serious and simple. Never set out for a hike without some form of first aid on hand. See our basic first aid kit checklist here.
You never know when you’ll have to make repairs and there are so many uses in one of these that it’s well worth taking. Remember that the UK has strict knife laws and bear this in mind when making a decision on style.
You may not always have reception in some areas but it’s important to have some way of contacting people in case of an emergency. Phones usually have cameras too, allowing you to take some snaps as you go. You can even pre-load maps onto your phone for a more in-depth understanding of the route.
Keeping track of time is essential for keeping safe, especially in colder months when the sun goes down much earlier. Many watches now have extra handy features that may also aid your trip.
This may not seem like a cause for concern in the UK but sunburn can strike suddenly – especially at high altitudes – and it’s very tempting to bare arms on a warm day. We also have a range of clothing with in-built UV defence so you can cover up. Don’t forget to check those weather reports!
Getting bitten to death by bugs is no fun at all, so it’s advisable to keep some insect repellent close to hand to keep the biters at bay.
In Case of Emergency
If the light goes and you’re caught in the dark, a torch or head torch can be used to both find your way and signal for help. Head torches are great for hiking as they allow you to keep your hands free. It’s also wise to keep some spare batteries on hand or opt for a hand-charged design.
Matches and Lighter or Firestarter
Similarly these can be used for light and signalling but can also be used to start a fire and get heat in emergency situations. Remember that these should be kept dry in order for them to work effectively.
The single most versatile tool known to man. This can be used to patch tents, bags, jackets and more as well as repairing other damaged items. Some hikers wrap strips round their water bottle to reduce weight.
Another essential to get you noticed if you find yourself in trouble. Many styles can be attached to a jacket or pack for ease of use.
These lightweight items offer heat and protection if you’re caught in the cold. Climbing in a bivvy bag offers a place to take shelter if you’re caught outdoors and doubles as a handy storage bag.
Another item that is extremely versatile and handy. Can double up as boot laces and tie up bag in a flash.
Take more water than you need on you when you set off. Keep a couple of full water bottles about your bag or even get yourself a water bladder that holds around 2 litres.
Energy drinks replenish electrolytes. You may opt for gels or powders instead, depending on your tastes.
Particularly helpful on a cold day, some tea or coffee is a welcome addition and you can even use it for food such as soup or chilli. Also, most have cup lids.
Make sure you eat and keep well stocked on food. Sandwiches are easy to eat on the go, although you may want something warm instead. Always bring more than you need.
Something salty to snack on helps maintain electrolyte balance and something sugary gives a nice boost of energy.
Anything you need to eat with. A bowl can be handy if your food requires it and cutlery can be condensed to a single item such as our Snorky 3 in 1 Camping Utensil cutlery.
Don’t leave litter behind – store waste in a bag so it can be disposed of properly when you get back. Even food waste can attract predators to an area, thus affecting other wildlife negatively.
Some people will say this is essential, particularly on longer treks. Changing socks during a hike can stave off blisters and in wet conditions it’s often necessary to swap.
You never know when nature will call and even though you’ll be working up a sweat, a toilet stop may be needed. Some carry a sanitation towel to bury waste, though this is more of a necessary addition for longer treks.
Great for taking in the scenery and can be used for spotting other hikers who may be in distress. An essential for wildlife fans.
An option to assist you while walking. Some swear by them and others avoid them but undoubtedly they offer extra support that can help over long distances.
If your phone doesn’t have one or if you prefer a better photographic kit, a camera is great to bring along to capture the sights along the way. Don’t forget to take it in a protective case!
Route Guides/Outdoor Guides
Great for keeping track of your route and learning more about wildlife, flora and more.
Notepad, Pen and Pencil
A simple addition for tracking your journey and highlighting interesting finds as you go. A notepad is also suggested as part of a first aid kit for detailing any necessary medical information.
This is an easy way to clean your hands when other facilities aren’t available. Great for cleaning up after eating or toilet stops.
For After Your Hike
Clean Change of Clothes
These can be kept in your car or stored in a dry bag at the bottom of your kit if needed. They should include dry footwear like trainers or sandals so you can get out of dirty and damp clothing.
Keep some extra water and snacks in the car for after or add extra to your pack. This helps to get your hydration back to normal and stave off hunger.
Some people like to carry a towel while they hike but it’s often helpful to keep one stored in your car or near your finishing point so you can dry off and warm up.
This list is extensive to ensure you’re well stocked up for your journey and as you become more experienced, you’ll adjust your kit to better suit your style. Remember to always consult weather reports and conditions before you set out for the day and add or remove items accordingly. Most of all keep your trips manageable to begin with and remember to make the most out of your time outdoors.