How to Pack for a Day Hike

How to Pack for a Day Hike

Published: Oct 28, 2020

Nobody wants to experience a quick day hike trip with excessive weights on their shoulder. Imagine the heavy load and muscle pains you'll go through by the time you get back home. Instead of enjoying your day out in nature, all you will be able to think about is the pack on your shoulder.

We know how this experience feels which is why we have come up with this article where we can help you decide on what to bring and how to pack your bag.

Packing for a day hike requires several vital factors you need to consider and these are creating a checklist, pack layering, understanding the features of your backpack, and how to avoid overpacking. You need to remember that the most essential things are needed to be packed first then the less important should be placed on the latter. Be meticulous in choosing your gears and stuff because it will greatly affect your hiking adventure.

Creating a Day Hike Checklist

If you plan to go on an adventure, there will be key reminders that you need to remember. Of course, this is typically applied in the packing aspects of your stuff and equipment. In this review, we will be discussing the important things you should consider when packing your things for your hiking escapade. 

The first one you should do is to make a checklist. We will be giving you a sample list that we have created for our hikers which helps them narrow down the important things that they need to bring. These are:

  • Food and water
  • Multi-tool pocket knife or multi-tool equipment
  • Hiking footwear
  • Backpack
  • Wear proper clothes for hiking
  • Compass
  • First-aid kit
  • Needed body essentials or medicine

The list we made is not only enclosed and limited to the things we enumerated but, it is in your decision if what are the other materials and equipment you want to incorporate on each factor on the list. 

For example, under navigation materials, you can either bring a compass or maps. In the category of clothing or footwear, we suggest you wear clothes that are appropriate for the weather of the place you are going to or bring extra jackets, raincoats, long sleeves, hats, and boots if the place is cold and rain is constant.

For food and water, we advise you to bring sufficient stocks and prioritize trail snacks. The first-aid kit will fall under the group of emergency materials. Even if you are going on a mountain or place without stores, you still need to bring money, an identification card, and a cellphone. This will be under the personal items wherein you can also include your hygiene essentials.

You should also bring tools and repair materials just in case you will need to fix your gears. Other extra equipment may include flashlights, binoculars, notebooks, and writing materials.

Understanding Pack Layering

Packing will surely eat up space in your backpack so you need to be careful in compressing and choosing the things you need to bring. But before packing or if you are still on the verge of searching for the right backpack, we recommend you to read our article, How to Choose a Hiking Backpack for your guide.

Now, let's go back to your packing strategy. Since you have already a hiking checklist, collect all of the stuff that you have checked then place it on the ground. What you need to do next is to organize it inside your backpack.

There are partitions on your pack and these are the bottom, core, top, accessory pockets, and tool loops.

  • Bottom

We recommend you to put your huge and heavy stuff which is less to be used during your hiking. You can put your sleeping pads or camping mats, extra shoes or boots for camping, and other essentials that you may need when you camp.

  • Core

Since this is positioned in the middle of the bottom and top, you can put your items with moderate weight. We suggest you place your cooking equipment, food, and water supply in this section.

  • Top

This is the zone that is totally accessible when you are hiking so place the most essential and commonly used items you'll be needing in this division. You can put your jackets, a first-aid kit, and other hygiene essentials.

  • Accessory pockets

Although you have the top zone to put your significant things, visualize and organize the small and larger stuff. This division is best for the basic materials that you will be frequently using while on the trail. We recommend you place your personal items, navigation materials, water tumblers, and snacks.

  • Tool Loops

Apart from the enumerated compartment, there are some backpacks that are designed with attachment points which allows you to link in some loops for your bulky gears. This loop is originally engineered by the manufacturers for the gears that you can't place inside your backpack. Most are usually using it to carry axes, shovels, and other oversized materials.

Understanding the Features of Your Backpack

As we have already talked about the possible items you can put inside your backpack and the partition you can utilize, let's have a bit of discussion about the different features of your backpack. 

Manufacturers have designed numerous types of backpacks that may suit your needs in terms of hiking but what are the features we should know. When we started our journey with our hikers, we gradually learned the different areas and features of the hiking backpacks.

  1. Main Zone or Brain Section

This is located at the top part of the pack which is commonly utilized to store easy to grab items or the things that you will be needing when you are in the middle of trekking or hiking.

On the Pack Layering section of this review, you can see our suggested items you can put on the top zone. 

  1. Front Pouch

This is positioned on the front surface of the backpack which is sometimes zippered. A hiker can place their wet raincoats inside or any items that may fit your needs as long as it is a lightweight material. On the other hand, this area is also called the kangaroo pouch.

The hip belt pocket is best to be used in storing your trail snacks and often used essentials. Since this is called a hip belt pocket, you can locate it on the hip belt of your backpack. 

However, take note that not all of the backpacks have this feature so it is best to properly examine the features before buying.

  1. Water Bottle Pockets

This is where you can place your water tumblers or bottles for easy access if you are traveling but, you can use this space for storing other gears that can be fit in there just like the detachable tent poles.

How to Avoid Overpacking on a Day Hike

There is a huge possibility that you will over pack when you are backpacking your stuff. It may result in the point that you will not be able to bring other essentials because you pack excess materials that you may not be using during your hiking. 

  • Always remember that your backpack works as supplemental storage of your body where you can put your things. However, be attentive to the type of adventure you are planning if it is actually appropriate to the things you are going to bring.


  • When you are in the action of backpacking, you should remember the most necessary needs for your adventure. We suggest you prioritize your sleeping bags, extra clothes, a tent, food, and water. These are the key materials you should stuff first.


  • The next thing you can insert in your backpack is the second to the most needed materials. We recommend that these are your personal items, emergency kits, and repair tools since these are considered to have a small size, expect that there are allowances you can still use. 


  • Bear in mind that the last items that you are going to put inside your backpack are the less essential on your hiking. These are the things that you can leave but you can survive. For example, your shades, notebooks, pens, and pencils. Although these things are helpful, there will be instances that it won't fit inside your backpack anymore so be cautious.

At the end of your backpacking, you will feel assured that all of your needs are inside the backpack but also, focus on your checklist to avoid forgetting something. From the perspective of our hikers, it is really a great advantage


Security and confidence in hiking are elements that you should focus on. Security in terms of the completeness of your essentials and confidence that you packed everything before you go to battle. 

Your checklist is the salient reminder you need to take care of first because its absence will result in many consequences and struggle while you are on trial so, it is better to guarantee the materials inside your backpack. 

How you pack your stuff also matters because it will cause you to overpack if you are careless in inserting everything which is a drawback because that will hamper you to add more things inside. 

You should prioritize the most essential things and define strictly the impracticable things that may not be helpful on your journey. That is just something that you don't want to happen. 

Lastly, understand the features of your backpack is also important as it will guide you to know what are the probable stuff that you can insert into the different compartments and you will know how it works. With such, you can formulate ideas on how to compress and be thrifty for the space in your backpack. 


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