What Should Be Packed For A Single-Day Hike?

Hiking provides healthful exercise, a way to soak in the beauty of nature, and entertaining single-day activity.


A single-day hike can last anywhere from 4 hours to 14 hours. It’s not difficult to define a single-day hike but when you’re out enjoying Mother Nature she can throw some surprises in your path. If you plan on a single-day hike sometime in the near future here’s a quick checklist of items that you’ll want to pack for a day on the trails.


  • Water and Liquids With Electrolytes
  • Protection from the Elements
  • Navigation Tools
  • Snacks for Energy
  • Illumination
  • Curiosity, Openness, Cheer
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Footwear
  • Shelter


Hydration, of course, will be one of your foremost concerns as you hit the trails. Water and liquids that provide electrolytes will keep your brain and nervous system active and aware, and the rest of your bodily systems doing what they are supposed to do!

Bottled water of the Fuji variety and other similar brands actually have a high level of electrolytes and are great choices for the trail. Coconut water and aloe water are also great for quick hydration, and most people find that they taste great as well!

getting-ready-for-a-single-day-hike imagePROTECTION FROM THE ELEMENTS

The “elements” include the sun, the wind, and any level of moisture. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, you should apply a sunblock with at least an SPF of 40, 45, or 50. To protect yourself from the wind, drink plenty of fluid as evaporation can occur more readily with a strong wind (and extreme temperatures), and apply a lip balm. Any organic lip balm is a good choice as the natural ingredients provide protection but are less likely to irritate lips’ sensitive skin.

To protect against moisture, wear materials that won’t stay wet for long. Don’t wear cotton! Once cotton gets wet it will stay wet longer than most wearable materials, which in extreme conditions can lead to hypothermia and in less extreme conditions can still lead to chapping or discomfort. A light poncho may also be advisable.


Regardless of how well you know the area where you plan to hike, surprises can happen, and getting lost isn’t uncommon among hikers. Take care to always carry an up-to-date trail map, a GPS, or a compass that at least one or two people in your group know how to use!


Even small snacks can keep your energy levels high and your brain alert so that you can continue to enjoy the beautiful world around you as you hike! Nuts, dried fruit, and energy bars are all good options. Energy bars such as Primal Kitchen’s Dark Almond Energy Bar are an excellent option as they provide high-energy ingredients, low sugar levels, and protein, and are free of gluten, grains, dairy, and soy.


If your single-day hike turns into a two-day hike (oops!) or accidentally starts early or ends late make sure that each hiker has his/her own functioning headlight and/or flashlight and that these items are stored in waterproof containers. Also, ensure that the headlights or flashlights are tested before the hike to determine that they are working. Also, regardless of the length or exact time that your hike takes place, it is always a good idea to consider your illumination needs!


It might seem strange that “curiosity, openness, and cheer” have made their way as a subtitle into this article. It might seem even more strange that these qualities were included before the next subtitle which is a first-aid kit and obviously important!

The truth is that qualities like curiosity, openness and cheer are what makes hiking so magical and healing in the first place. Before embarking on your single-day hike remember that every moment in time can change you forever. So be open! Be curious about what is around the bend. Express gratitude that you are able to walk and hike in this beautiful world!


A first-aid kit is essential for your single-day hike. Pack only items that you know how to use and consider adding matches to your kit. Matches aren’t generally a part of a first-aid kit but having something that can create warmth can be very useful in providing first aid! Bandages, band-aids, gauze, as well as a topical antiseptic are generally easy to use/apply and should be included in the kit as well.


When it comes to footwear it’s wise not to buy the $20 shoes at Walmart or a neighborhood retail store. Buying shoes that are made for hiking at REI or another outdoor retailer can make a significant difference during your hiking experience. The right shoes can keep out more moisture for longer periods of time and will be far more comfortable to wear. Also, always remember to wear footwear for at least a few hours before embarking on the hike. You don’t want to end up with blisters!


Last but not least include a tarp, small tent, or at the very least a reflective blanket in your hiking pack. These items shouldn’t weigh much for the most part and if surprise weather comes along in a hurry you’ll be ready.


First and foremost, enjoy your single-day hike! Work to live and not vice versa!

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