A real hike is a lot more than just a walk in the park. A real hike has elevation. Seclusion. Wilderness. Serenity. And a real hike requires self-sufficiency.
In short—you need the right gear to ensure your day-hike finishes as well as it starts.
We’re here to help, with a handy checklist of essential items you need for a day-hike excursion. The following list is suitable for a full-day’s hike in a moderate to challenging environment.
First, you’ll need something to put it your gear in. Which starts us at:
Well-fitted and comfortable. When buying a backpack, ensure you try it on with a load. (Grab a sleeping bag from the store shelves and stuff it in.) Adjust the straps and move around. Does it stay put? Any pinch points? A quality hiking day-pack should have a hip-strap as well. This should sit just atop your hip-bones and will support the bulk of your load. A day-pack should be light and small, yet roomy enough to carry all your essentials without feeling overstuffed. Look for something in the 20-litre range. The ability to hold a hydration bladder is a feature you’ll come to love as well.
The further from help you roam, the more serious the consequences to something as simple as a sprained ankle. Hiking shoes are fine for gentle strolls in woodsy parks, but if there’s going to be an elevation change, you need footwear with ankle support. Always try before you buy. Different brands fit differently—as much as a full size at times—and your foot has specific needs. Modern boots don’t require long break in periods. If it’s terribly uncomfortable at the store, it won’t get better on the trail.