So you’ve heard of this great trail that you want to explore on the weekend and it’s the night before and you need to figure out what to take. What’s important? What can I leave at home? What might save my life? All very crucial decisions to make and what you do end up taking in your pack can alter the experience immensely.
You don’t want to find yourself in the middle of an empty trail wishing you had something vitally important or getting to a rest stop with only a tiny amount of water left in your drink bottle. With no requirement on a day hike for carrying bulky gear like a tent, sleeping bag etc like you would for an overnight hike, the options are endless so long as you are happy to carry the weight.
Here is my guide on what to pack for a day hike.
First Aid Kit
I’m going to start with the boring but super important items so stick with me. The Australian bush can be very dangerous if you aren’t prepared so must have items in any day pack include a snake bite kit, small pair of scissors, some form of sterilizer, bandaids, dressings and blister packs. You may not ever have to use it in an emergency but having one with you could be the difference between an inconvenience and a disaster.
This should be a no-brainer but there is nothing worse than not taking enough water and finishing a hike dehydrated and spoiling how good the experience was. There is no hard and fast rule for how much water you should take so know your body and if you aren’t sure then always take extra. Winter hikes will require less as you won’t be sweating out as much and conversely, always take more than you think for warm days as things can turn quite quickly if you aren’t careful. The worst that will happen is you end up carrying a bit more weight and finish with a half empty bottle.
Now we are getting to the super important bit of the hike, what snacks to bring. This section is limited only by your imagination and your food transport setup. Things I have seen out on the trail include sesame mushrooms, haloumi for grilling on a portable stove, cake and pizza. If you’re just out for fun then feel free to go nuts (literally) and take what you want. If you’re using hiking as a fitness tool then do your research on healthy snack options that include plenty of protein and energy. Some of my favourites include Anzac biscuits, jelly beans, sushi (kept cool of course), chocolate and trail mix.
Smart Phone and Power bank
This one is a dividing topic in the hiking community but as we become more and more attached to our smartphones, there is great potential for them to add to your hiking experience without feeling like we are always on them. With smartphone technology getting better and better, the cameras are more than capable of taking amazing shots for you to look back on and enjoy. I definitely recommend taking a map with you if you aren’t sure of the area and using a GPS tracking app as a back-up to your navigation. Also vitally important is a way of communicating with the outside world if things go wrong so having your phone in the bag is a must. If your hike is away from the range of mobile towers be prepared for your battery to be drained trying to find a signal and always remember the emergency numbers (000 for in range, 112 when you have no signal). A handy back-up to have is a small powerbank just in case you find yourself running low on juice.
JIC is the Just In Case gear that you might need but probably won’t. Nature can be a fickle master so being prepared is always a good thing. What I would include as JIC gear is a rain jacket, spare socks a small waterproof bag for your valuables, an emergency blanket (the light shiny space film one) and some extra cash (just in case you pass a bakery or food truck). It isn’t a lot of extra weight to carry and is handy to have when things take an unexpected change.
In The Car
There are a few essential items worth packing in a spare bag in the car for when you return from your hike. The first one isn’t for you but for the environment, a brush and spray bottle of methylated spirits. Dieback is one of the biggest environmental issues facing the vegetation of Australia so we all must do our bit to protect the places we love. There is no cure for Dieback and it is most commonly spread in soil so having a brush and methylated spirits to clean your shoes before and after each hike is a good way to stop the spread. Another great thing to have is a spare set of clothes, especially if it is wet or hot. There is nothing worse than driving home with wet or smelly clothes.
A day hike should be a fun way to cover a lot of kilometres without being burdened with the weight of an overnight pack. If you don’t want to take a lot then you don’t have to but if you want to load yourself up with things that you enjoy then the choice is yours.
What would you include in your day pack that I haven’t listed here?