Whether you're just getting into the hiking scene or a seasoned pro, packing a day bag can be a daunting task. The amount of gear available is overwhelming. You don't want to over-pack and carry around unnecessary weight but you also don't want to miscalculate your needs in case of an emergency. We're breaking down the 10 Hiking Day Pack Essentials to help take out some of the guess work and get you on the trails in no time!
1. Extra Food and Water
It may seem like a no-brainer but it's an essential for a reason. Hiking is a very physical task and can lead to exertion or even dehydration. Bringing along some extra protein bars and a reusable water bottle help beat back the tiredness and keep you going longer.
We all carry our phones with us everywhere but relying on your iPhone's GPS in a desolate area is less than ideal. Phones break, lose battery or just can't connect due to insufficient service. A good old fashioned paper map is a great backup if your digital hardware fails. Also! Some maps highlight scenic routes and not-to-miss sites that a GPS cannot.
3. Sunscreen and Sunglasses
Even in the winter, sunscreen is a smart travel companion. Remember what we said about dehydration? Long exposure to sun can damage skin and quicken the dehydration process. Few things ruin a hike faster than a nasty sunburn.
4. Head Protection
Hat, beanie or even a balaclava are all great options! Along with sunscreen, a baseball cap or sun hat can help keep the sun out of your eyes or off your neck. In colder climates, a winter hat is a crucial part of the hiker's kit. According to a survival field guide released by the US Army, 40-45% of our body heat escapes through the top of the head. Keep your dome protected!
5. Bug Spray
Say buzz off to pesky pests. No one wants to get home from a hiker covered in bug bites. More so, biting insects can carry diseases like Malaria and Lymes Disease. We recommend applying insect repellent 30-45 before setting off to the woods and reapplying every couple hours.
Hiking at night or possibly in a dark cave? Even if you aren't, a flashlight is a great addition to any day pack. Should you get lost or find yourself needing to camp for the evening, being without a light source is a scary proposition. Invest in a lightweight flashlight or headlamp in case of an emergency.
It may seem a little Boy Scout-ish but having a backup if things go sour is the reality of being outdoors. When used with the map, a compass helps orient the reader's position, find landmarks and essential navigation. We hope you never have to use it but one wrong turn and you'll be glad it's there.
8. First Aid Kit
You just bought the best pair of trail boots! Got them on sale, in the right color and you have never been in more pain. When the new-shoe blisters start to set in, you'll be glad you had the extra bandages. In all seriousness, scrapes, cuts and trips are bound to happen when walking over uneven surfaces. Be prepared with bandaids, antibiotic cream, pain reliever and a long wrap for things like rolled ankles or busted wrists.
9. Pocket Knife
As you've probably gleaned from the other 8 items on our list so far, emergency preparedness is the name of the game. A pocket or Swiss Army knife is a versatile tool that can be used for anything from protection, utility and finger nail clipping.
This may not be the most essential item but it sure is the most fun! Nature is incredibly beautiful and you'll want to savor the experience. So take a selfie, snap a pic of the reds and oranges of the setting sun. Relive your adventures for years to come.
When the hike is done, be sure to kick back and relax in your favorite Acorn slippers. You deserve it! Acorn is your #1 source for après adventure footwear.