survival

Day Hiking Backpack Checklist

If you plan on day hiking on your next camping trip, having the right gear is important. Today, we are going to go over what items you want to make sure to have with you, even if only out for a few hours. You don’t want to get caught in the middle of nowhere not being prepared. So let’s get started!

Backpack

If you will be hiking for the day, you will need the right type of backpack. I mean, you need to have a place to store everything we will be going over below. Taking the right kind of backpack is important as well. You want something that is laid out in a way that everything has a place to be.

Hiking backpack with plenty of room for all your gear. Bright colors help people find you if lost.

Backpack tips

A bright colored backpack can help you be seen if you are in trouble and people are searching for you. Using a dark colored or camouflage backpack will work if you also use it for hunting but if not, go with a bright color. If you do go dark, make sure to pack a bright (hunter orange) color rag just in case.

You want to get a backpack that has a lot of room but comfortable to carry around all day. Pictured above is a large outdoor hiking backpack that has plenty of room and pockets for everything you may need.

Things to think about when buying a hiking backpack are: will you even hike camp (do you need room for a tent like above)? Does it have room for everything you need? Is it too big (how much can you carry)?

Navigation

Heading out in unfamiliar land without anything to help you get around is just kinda dumb. How many news reports have you seen about hikers getting lost with search parties being sent out to find them? You cannot depend on having phone service when in the woods or underpopulated areas. It is important to know where you are and how to get back.

Map

Taking a map that has local landmarks is a good idea. You can usually find these at local tourist stations. Make a note of landmarks on the map as you head out so you can look for them if lost on your way back.

Compass

Compass to help you read a map if you get lost.

Compasses are not used nearly as much as they should be. Having a compass will help when trying to read a map. Knowing which way is what can help you confirm landmarks in a specific direction. A compass app can be found on most (if not all) smart phones. One thing to remember is that if your phone dies, you will not have a compass. A small pocket compass is cheap and well worth the little space it will take in your backpack.

GPS

A real GPS is always a smart idea and can replace your map and compass. You can not rely on your phone GPS, you would want a dedicated device strictly for this. Just make sure it has a personal GPS locator function built into it.

Sun Protection

Even if you plan on hiking in the woods, sun lotion is a smart thing to pack. Have you ever got sun burned on a cloudy day? Being hidden under trees will protect you but if you will be in open areas, you will wish you had it. It is smart to pack a small tube of sun lotion that doesn’t take much room and will not add unneeded weight to your pack.

It is recommended not to use spray lotion for a couple reasons. One, you will be taking arousal into nature. Second, more and more people are having chemical reactions to them. You do not want to be too far out if you have one. This happened to me nephew and it was BAD!

Extra Clothes

You may not think of something like an extra pair of clothes as something you will need, but it is. Weather changes, it could be cool when you leave but become very hot. Or, it could be a nice day and the sun goes down quicker than you thought. Preparing for the weather can ave you from suffering weather changes.

What if you run into the perfect swimming creek or pond? I bet you will be kicking yourself that you didn’t bring an extra pair of your skimmies (bra/undies)!

What if it rains? Do you have a poncho? They are light and easy to pack.

Lastly, pack a pair of work gloves. You can thank me later.

Emergency/Survivor Gear

Starting a fire with flint as part of your emergency survival gear while hiking.

Even if you are going out for a few hours, having some basic survivor gear can save your life. Just a few simple things can be the difference between life and death in case of an emergency. Here is what I carry:

  • Knife (both pocket and larger K-Bar type for cutting wood)
  • Flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Flint or small box of waterproof matches
  • Small radio with crank power (for weather if you get stuck)
  • Multi-tool like a Leatherman or Gerber
  • First-aid kit with extra tape that can be used in making a splent
  • Whistle
  • A few MRE’s (meals ready to eat) in case you are stuck overnight or two
  • Water sanitize tablets
  • Small tarp to make shelter if needed
  • Rappelling rope
  • Pistol (if laws allow and you have your CCW) since you never know what you will run into

Water and Protein

Getting water out of a creek to drink using a filtered water bottle or using sanitize tablets.

You will of course take water on your hike, but make sure to take enough to last. You need plenty of water to stay hydrated but water is heavy! A gallon of water weighs over 8 pounds, and that’s a lot of weight to add to your pack.

Using a water bottle that has a built in filter not only make hiking fun by refilling from lakes and streams, it also cuts real pounds from your back. The technology of today is awesome! Here is one from Amazon that gets great reviews.

Besides water, protein is just as important. Staying hydrated and fueled will keep you energetic and keep you feeling good. packing things like jerky, protein bars or a jar of peanut butter will make sure you will have the power throughout the day.

Overview

So, above we covered a checklist of things to take on a day hike. You may think of your hike as harmless fun but all you have to do is watch the news to see what type of things that can happen while out. The above may sound like overkill but being prepared is being responsible. Your friends and family want you to come back!

So a quick overview of things you need:

  • good backpack with plenty of room
  • map and compass
  • sun protection
  • extra clothes or at least socks
  • poncho
  • emergency and survival gear including: knife, flashlight, fire starter, radio, multi-tool, whistle, MRE, water tablets, small tarp, rope and firearm (if allowed, have CCW and in a area with predators)
  • water bottle with filter
  • protein snacks like jerky

Stay safe and enjoy Mother Nature!