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Your Day Hiking Checklist Made Easy

It’s a beautiful day and you can hardly wait to get out on the trail! You pull on your hiking boots, throw some stuff into your backpack, and rush out the door. A mile into the hike you open up your backpack to find you've forgotten to bring your trail map along. Oops…

We’ve all neglected to pack something important before. Right, ladies?

Being a little unprepared isn’t always a big deal. However, on less forgiving occasions, forgetting gear at home could put you in a dangerous situation. To help keep you well-equip for your next outing, we've compiled this day hiking checklist!


Drink up buttercup! With plenty of water in tow, there should never be a need to ration. Dehydration is no joke! If you’re planning to filter water along the trail, make sure you know exactly where your water sources are. In the summer, some sources may dry out and become unavailable, so stay up to date.

I love using a water bladder for hiking and backpacking because it's so easy to drink from while I move along the trail. How do you prefer to carry your water?

Extra Layers

This morning when you left for the trail the weather was boasting sunny and 75, but rain is in the afternoon forecast. Are you prepared with a rain jacket? Packing additional layers can help protect you from hypothermia should a storm roll in!

First Aid Kit

A proper first aid kit is super important to bring on any outdoor adventure. If you’d like to build your own, the American Red Cross has a great list of must-have items for first aid kits. For convenience, you can also buy one that's prepackaged with everything you’ll need from an outdoor store. A few items you may want to add to your emergency kit are sugar packets, sunblock, waterproof matches, and a light source.

Hopefully, you’ll only ever open this kit for a bandage to cover an oncoming blister. In the unexpected circumstance that you need it for something more serious, be knowledgable about how to use everything in your kit properly.


Hangry hikers are no fun! Bring along plenty of nutritious snacks to keep yourself fueled. Some of my favorite trail snacks are dried fruit, granola bars, jerky, nuts, and trail mix. All super easy things to keep stocked in your pantry for grab and go convenience!


Although we want to trust recreation areas to have helpful signage, that’s not always the case. Trails can be unexpectedly confusing and signs can fall victim to the elements. Bringing a map and compass is always a great way to prevent disorientation.

For backcountry adventures, consider investing in a GPS unit or satellite phone that can communicate your position to an emergency contact in case you need assistance. It’s a great peace of mind to have when hiking into an isolated location without cell service.

One more thing…

ALWAYS tell someone outside of your hiking group where you're going and when you plan to return. Even if you’re out for a short hike and plan to be home in an hour, play it safe and text a friend.

What would you never leave for the trailhead without? Let us know in the comments!

Emily is a freelance travel and outdoor recreation writer for hire. Samples of her published work can be found at

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