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Everything You Need to Bring in Your Hiking Day Pack

Whether you're hiking 2 miles or 10, it's important to bring a hiking pack with everything you could need! When hiking, it's important to prepare for changes in the weather, changes in the temperature, and prepare for the unexpected by bringing extra food, water, clothes, and much more!

What is a day pack? In the hiking community, a day pack refers to a backpack used for a hike that is completed within one day, as opposed to a backpacking pack that holds supplies for a hike that spans multiple days.

Check out this post for the best hiking packs: Choosing the Right Size: A Guide to Hiking Backpacks

What you bring in your day pack will change depending on the season. If you're hiking in the summer, you're going to prioritize bringing extra water, bug spray, and tick repellants. If you're hiking in the winter, you would be worried more about bringing extra layers, hot hand packets, and accessories like gloves and a hat. For upcoming summer hikes, here are the essentials you should be bringing in your hiking day pack:

Water. Water is without a doubt the most important thing to bring on a hike! It is so easy to dehydrate during a hot summer hike, and it's always essential to bring more water than you think you need. The rule of thumb is to bring 8oz per mile, but in extremely warm climates, you should prepare to bring more.

Food. If you plan on being out on the trail longer than an hour, it's important to bring some snacks or a lunch that will replenish your sugar, electrolytes, and energy! If you find yourself feeling sluggish during a hike, it's probably because you're not eating enough. The middle of a hike is not the time to think about calorie deficits.

Check out this post for more hiking snack ideas: 15 Delicious Hiking Snack Ideas to Keep You Energized

Sunscreen is important to bring regardless of the season! Even if it's cloudy out, your skin can still take damage from UV rays. Reapply sunscreen every hour to prevent skin damage.

Mosquito spray. Unless you're hiking in the desert (are there mosquitos in Arizona?) it's essential to bring bug spray on summer hikes. Along with being a huge nuisance, mosquitos can carry serious diseases.

Tick repellent. Tick season poses a serious hazard to hikers. I recommend that everyone wears long pants, thick socks, and boots, even in the heat, to prevent tick bites. On top of that, bring some tick repellent!

A first aid kit. First aid kits are important to bring in case of emergency. Maybe you trip and cut your leg on a branch. Maybe you notice a tick and need to remove and patch the bite. There are many unexpected things that can happen while outdoors, and it's better to be safe and bring a first aid kit!

A rain jacket or poncho. Even when the weather forecast calls for sun all day long, there's always a chance for a pop-up thunderstorm. Bring a packable rain jacket to keep in your day pack permanently and you won't have to think twice about it.

Extra socks. I've been on so many hikes where there was high water or an unexpected creek crossing. It's become second nature to bring extra socks with me on every hike just in case my socks get soaked halfway through!

Sandals are great to pack in your day pack if you know you'll be hiking through a creek or by a lake. If your feet to start to hurt in your hiking boots, you can also switch to sandals like Tevas to give your feet some air and walk through streams with no hesitation.

A hat is always in my day pack. People almost always forget to put sunscreen on their scalps, and that sensitive skin can burn just as easily as the rest of your body! Whether it's to cover your head from excess sun or rain, hats are a great thing to bring with you.

Navigation. Whether you bring a paper map, download a map on your phone, or invest in a satellite GPS, it's always important to bring some form of navigation on a hike!

A power bank. Especially for long hikes, a power bank brings a lot of peace of mind. Charge your phone while you're hiking so you can navigate and make phone calls in case of an emergency. Don't forget to bring your phone charger too!

Some form of self-protection. It's up to you to determine what you need to feel safe while you're hiking. If you're concerned about personal safety while hiking, try sticking to designated state parks that have a gate attendant, plenty of employees, and well-marked trails.

These are the essential things to bring on every summer day hike. If you want to up your hiking experience, try bringing these:

A hammock is a great way to relax and soak in nature during or after a hike! Pack a camping hammock in your backpack to set up during a rest.

A backpacking stove. I wanted to use my backpacking stove more often, so I started bringing it with me on day hikes along with a coffee pour-over or cup noodles. Stopping during a hike to make coffee or a hot meal feels so luxurious!

If you love the outdoors, read these other articles from Sarah's Cozy Life:

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