What to Pack for a Hike

My new hiking pack, something I’ve desperately needed if I’m going to do the #52hikechallenge, arrived this week! I’ve been so excited about it that I’ve spent far too many hours gathering and packing and repacking it with all my gear. Then I realized this is information worth sharing, so here we go with what to pack for a hike!

First, let me give a shout out to a very important list you should refer to if you’re planning your own forays into the backcountry. The National Parks Service has posted this 10 Essentials to pack when you #optoutside.  I don’t quite have everything on this list, but I’m working on it and plan my hikes accordingly.

The spread. It’s very purple-y.

Here’s what I never leave home without:

  • Day Hike Pack – This pack from Camel has a space for a water bladder, has an internal frame, and is intended for day hikes. It’s a bright color (I love any shade of purple) so I can’t mistaken for an animal.
  • Water – In addition to my water bladder, I carry two, 32 oz bottles of water, too. Tip, if you store them upside down, they won’t freeze at the mouthpiece. 
  • Map & Compass – It’s important to know how to use them, too. Many local wilderness rescue groups offer classes on this topic, often for free. Always remember to tell someone where you’re hiking, how far, and when you expect to be back. Check in with that person when you get home.
  • Extra Clothes – Because I’m prone to blisters, I bring a pair of toe socks, as well as an extra pair of dry wool hiking socks. I also pack a down vest, an extra thermal beanie, extra thermal gloves, and a Buff.
  • Survival Gear – A lighter or matches, a headlamp, a basic first aid kit, a knife, some handwarmers, and an emergency whistle are what I keep in my pack at all times. On day trips I keep my survival gear to a minimum because I’m careful to follow the trail and be super aware of my surroundings and map.
  • Personal Gear – Sunscreen, Lip Balm, my asthma inhaler, my TomTom GPS watch, and sport sunglasses are all essential for a comfy hike at high altitude.
  • Snacks – The most important things! I’ve always got a nut based snack and an apple at minimum.
  • Fun Stuff  – A small notebook which is my Trail Journal, a pen, a selfie stick, and my #womenwhohike patch.

I hope that helps you decide what to pack for your hikes!

What gear is essential for you when you #optoutside? 

8 thoughts on “What to Pack for a Hike

  1. I love this! You might know, but I really enjoy hiking so I’m always curious to see what other people pack in their packs. Extra socks is key for me too.

  2. Extra socks are a MUST, right?! Ya just never know. I also think I need more snacks. Lol

    Where do you hike? Do you have a favorite area?

  3. Great list, Jenn! I only go on short hikes with the boys but we did a hiking merit badge for Scouts and learned what you bring in your pack is so important. Jay is loves to prep (he sent a zero degree sleeping bag with me in the car last week when I drove to PA). He has a Garmin tracker thing (not the technical name for it…) that he likes to bring along on hikes so we can backtrack… we use it to find geocaches too.

    • I bet the boys could give me a lesson! A GPS unit is a great thing to have. They can literally save your life. One day I’ll add that to the pack, when Carla and I do the Contiental Divide Trail!

  4. Jenn, I see you have your selfie stick, so I’m thinking you have your phone. Do you get reception in most of the places you go hiking? And, do you go alone most of the time. Snacks seem really important because you burn so many calories. Nut based snacks do seem like a perfect choice, small and light. Also, what about wipes or tp? One last question do you carry plastic bags for waste? Thanks.

    • Hi! I do have my phone but it’s more for taking photos, I generally don’t get recpetion where I hike. Also, at this point my hikes are short enough that I don’t need wipes or TP, but I will practice “leave no trace” when I do work up to longer distances. Whatever trash I pack in, I pack out. I am going to start carrying a plastic bag for litter I find on the trails.

  5. Yay! I love this! I’m definitely hoping to go on more hikes this year–I’m planning on hopefully doing a cross country road trip after residency, so fingers crossed!

You’ve heard my thoughts! Would love to hear yours here.