Day Hiking Checklist

 Three hikers on the trail

Intentionally comprehensive so you don’t forget anything, our checklist for day hikers starts with the required Ten Essentials. Adapt those and the remaining items on the list based on weather and the remoteness of destination, as well as the hiking experience and preferences of your group.

The Ten Essentials

For safety, survival and basic comfort, bring these on every hike:

1. Navigation

•  Map (with protective case)
•  Compass

2. Sun protection

•  Sunscreen
•  SPF-rated lip balm
•  Sunglasses

3. Insulation

•  See Clothing options, below

4. Illumination

•  Headlamp or flashlight
•  Extra batteries

5. First-aid supplies

•  First-aid kit (see our First-Aid Checklist)

6. Fire

Fire-starting gear:
•  A lighter or matches in a waterproof container
•  Firestarting material

7. Repair tools and kit

•  Knife or multi-tool
•  Repair supplies

8. Nutrition

•  Food for the day, plus extra food

9. Hydration

•  Water bottles or hydration reservoir
•  Water filter or other treatment system

10. Emergency shelter

• Tent, tarp, bivy or reflective blanket


When packing, avoid cotton and adjust each layer based on the forecast; always prepare, too, for the chance that conditions will turn colder, wetter and windier.

  • Wicking T-shirt or long-sleeve top
  • Wicking underwear or long-underwear bottoms (women’s, men’s)
  • Socks
  • Quick-drying pants or shorts
  • UPF-rated shirt
  • Sun hat and/or rain hat
  • Insulating hat or headband
  • Insulating fleece or soft-shell jacket or vest and pants
  • Bandana or Buff
  • Mosquito net clothing
  • Rain jacket
  • Rain pants


  • Hiking boots or shoes
  • Gaiters
  • Watersport sandals


  • Toilet paper
  • Sanitation trowel
  • Menstrual and urinary products
  • Waste bag(s)
  • Hand sanitizer


  • Multifunction watch
  • Cellphone and waterproof case
  • GPS
  • Camera and accessories
  • Two-way radios
  • Satellite messenger
  • Personal locator beacon

Other Recommended Items

  • Daypack
  • Energy beverages or drink mixes
  • Lunch utensils
  • Drinking cup
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Insect repellent
  • Whistle
  • Binoculars
  • Trekking poles
  • Route description or guidebook
  • Interpretive field guide(s)
  • Outdoor journal with pen/pencil
  • Bag for collecting trash
  • Post-hike snacks, water, towel, clothing change
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