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What to bring on a hike: Essentials for a successful outing

Discover the essentials for a safe and enjoyable hiking experience. Complete list for a successful hike.

Are you planning a hike and not sure what essentials to bring with you? Whether you're a beginner or experienced hiker, knowing what to pack can make or break your hiking experience.

What to pack for a day hike?

Basic equipment and appropriate clothing

Regardless of where you are, appropriate hiking clothing is the easiest way to make for a fun and enjoyable hiking trip! The simplest rule to follow is the 3-layer system:

1. a light wicking base layer (made of synthetic material or natural fibres) 
2. a breathable and insulating mid-layer for colder weather (fleece jacket or synthetic/down puffy jacket)
3. an outer layer and/or windproof shell to protect you from the elements (light waterproof jacket or soft shell in case of bad weather)

In more varying and colder climates, remember to avoid clothing that holds on to moisture, such as cotton!

What to pack for a day hike?

Choosing the right shoes

The right hiking shoes will make a huge difference on the trails! For the average light trail and for a hiker carrying a small backpack with just essentials, a pair of low profile hiking boots with moderate tread will carry you comfortably for several hours. For more varied terrain, hikers with a history of foot or ankle injuries, or those carrying a heavier hiking pack, a high profile hiking boot with sturdier tread is going to allow for a much more comfortable and safe experience. 

What to pack for a day hike?

Nutrition and hydration

Next to dressing appropriately, fuelling your body with nutritious, energy-packed food and staying hydrated is a must! A simple but helpful baseline for hikers is approximately 1L of water for every 2 hours planned on the trail. Light but dense and energy-packed snacks will mean less weight for your pack but more substantial fuel for your body- think: energy bars, trail mix, jerky, and dried fruit! 

What to pack for a day hike?

Orientation and communication

Though cellphones have amazing navigational capabilities, those don't necessarily always translate to trails. For optimal safety, carrying a GPS (with spare batteries or a power pack) or map and compass is ideal. Always make sure to communicate your plans to a trusted friend or family member.  

What to pack for a day hike?

Accessories and special equipment

Before you leave on your hike, don't forget these useful accessories.

For safety and first aid

In the event of an incident, preparation is key! A basic first aid kit is essential in case of emergency situations. Bring a whistle, emergency blanket, multi-tool or a swiss army knife, and matches. 

Adapting to specific conditions

If you know your planned hike could have you encountering a variety of conditions, you can plan ahead! For example, if you know the terrain you'll be hiking on will vary, pack a pair of hiking poles or trekking poles for added stability on uneven ground. If you're planning to start a hike later in the day, a headlamp or flashlight can allow for safe navigation past sundown. If you know your trail will take you across open or exposed areas, pack your sunscreen and lip balm! 

What to pack for a day hike?

Practical tips for organizing your pack

For a comfortable, stress-free hike, there's nothing better than a comfortable backpack!

How to optimize the space and weight of your backpack

When packing a day hiking backpack, make sure to plan accordingly: keep your first aid kit near the top and easily accessible, and your extra layers (such as mid-layer or shell) near the middle bottom of the pack to help with equal weight distribution. 

Choosing the right backpack

Most day packs will come with a capacity of somewhere between 20L to 40L. For a short, easy hike, a 20L pack should be more than enough to carry your essentials. For a longer hike where you may encounter challenging conditions, a larger pack will allow you to carry more preparedness items. Many hiking packs now come with thoughtful details and features so you can adventure with ease! Check your sternum strap buckle for a built-in whistle, look in the pockets for an included rain cover, and take note of the hydration bladder pocket with hose clip! When shopping for a hiking backpack, make sure to take note of what items you never leave behind to ensure that you can conveniently carry your necessities. 

Now you're ready for a safe adventure! Enjoy the great outdoors and be safe on your trips.

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