Day Hiking Essentials

If you had told me five years ago that I’d enjoy hiking, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was never an outdoorsy type, sure I enjoyed short walks around my home town and the surrounding villages, but longer walks or hiking didn’t seem appealing to me. That was until my first mountain hike, it was tough(!) but the feeling I had once we all reached the top was amazing.

Since that trip hiking has become something I really enjoy doing and my road trip to the Scottish Highlands strengthened my love of camping and the outdoors even more. Walking, especially in nature, has also been known to improve mental health as well, and I can honestly say I feel calmer when I’m in the great outdoors. Which is an added bonus!

In my last nature walk post I briefly mentioned wearing suitable footwear for long walks or hiking, so today I thought I’d share my day hiking essentials with you.

Day Hiking Essentials

Base layer

A base layer made from synthetic material is great for keeping you warm on the trail and most come in a wide range of colours and designs. I currently own two pairs and one of these has a waist band pocket at the back – which is ideal for debit cards, keys or your mobile phone.

I have worn mine for a wide range of activities from hiking to running muddy obstacle races, during snow boarding workshops and on long motor cycle journeys.

Quick drying trousers

After making the mistake of wearing jeans on a hike and getting soaked through(!), I invested in some quick drying trousers for my next hike. The ones I bought also zip off into shorts making them perfect for the Summer months too.

Needless to say we learn from our mistakes! I learnt the hard way that jeans do not dry fast and will stick to you when they get wet – I was uncomfortable and fairly miserable until we got back to the car.

Mid layer

A fleece or hooded jumper will give you an extra layer of warmth on your hike and is easily removable if you get too hot. My mid layer fleece was kindly gifted to me by Simply Hike* in an earlier collaboration with them.

It’s important to make sure the material isn’t cotton based as it doesn’t dry easily! You will be left feeling both wet and cold – similar to my experience with jeans…

Waterproof coat

Just because the weather is warm and sunny when you set off doesn’t mean it will stay that way. I have had sunny hikes turn into snowy ones in the past – you can never predict the great British weather, especially recently. Depending on the climate you may also want to think of a water resistant, wind proof or even ski jacket as alternatives.

Walking / hiking shoes or boots

It’s important that whatever shoes or boots you wear are worn in before any hike. This will help to prevent blisters.

The hiking shoes I bought are waterproof and very comfortable to wear. But I initially struggled to find the right pair for me; the shoes I own are actually part of a children’s range as the ladies sizes were too wide for me, so it’s worth checking out if you have smaller feet. Also cheaper!

I’d also recommend a good pair of non cotton socks to keep your feet warm and dry.

Compass, whistle, maps

I pack my seven in one survival whistle for any hike and typically download my route on to my phone, with a paper copy printed. You can never guarantee signal or battery life during your hike! So paper copies of maps or trail routes are a great back up to have.

Power bank

To keep my phone charged in case of emergencies or for playing PokΓ©mon Go on shorter walks. πŸ˜‰ I keep both my mobile phone and power bank in a waterproof pouch, in case of accidents. It even floats which is an added bonus.


To keep you hydrated on the trail. I alwaya take a resuable water bottle with me.

Trail snacks

Energy boosting snacks to ensure you’re blood sugar level doesn’t drop.

Sun protection

For your skin, but also think about protection for your head (such as sun hats or baseball caps) and your lips (like SF chapsticks).

First Aid Kit

I’ve covered my first aid kit essentials before but typical items to include are plasters, bandages, sterile wipes etc.

After you purchase and/or put together your first aid kit, be sure to add any prescriptions and extra over the counter medications you may need on your hike. I typically pack pain killers such as paracetamol or Ibprofuen, Rennie (antacids) and recently my respiratory inhaler.

Fire starter kit

I like to keep a variety of fire starters in my day pack in case of emergencies (or for overnight hikes of course). A lighter, matches and flammable items (such as newspaper or cardboard) are a few cheap, lightweight items to throw in your day pack to get a fire going. You may not need them but they’re great should you find yourself in an emergency condition.

I store my fire starter kit in a zip-lock bag which keeps them together and, most importantly, dry.

Beauty and sanitary products

Depending on the length of the hike I may add toilet paper, tissues, feminine hygiene products and hand sanitizer to my day pack.

Of course if you’re hiking over multiple days or backpacking, you will also need to think about packing camping equipment and utilising larger backpacks.

[Check out my camping essentials here]

What are some of your day hiking essentials?

* This item was gifted to me in a previous collaboration.

25 thoughts on “Day Hiking Essentials

  1. Jordanne | Thelifeofaglasgowgirl says:

    I soooo needed this post! My friend and I from college have just joined a hiking club with the kids so we can keep busy in the summer. I had no idea what I’ll need so this is perfect, I would NEVER have thought about quick drying trousers person protection Haha. I love this, such a great resource for anyone who wants to start hiking!

    Jordanne ||

    • Kim says:

      Thanks Jordanne! I’m glad you found it useful. Yeah, I learnt the hard way about quick drying trousers. πŸ˜‚

  2. Norma Linnet says:

    Hi Kim!

    This is such a great list of hiking essentials. I think I’ll come back to it before my next excursion since I’m still a newbie on outdoor activities.

    Peace, Love & Happiness,

    Norma Linnet

    • Kim says:

      Thank you. πŸ™‚ I agree bug spray can be invaluable in the Summer. I’ve never used a walking stick or walking poles on a hike but my mum does. She likes to come on long walks with me.

  3. Britt says:

    I LOVE hiking! I think you’ve got a great list of things here. I want to stress the importance, as you stated, of QUALITY footwear. So many people fail to realize how many injuries poor footwear can actually cause!

  4. Millie says:

    Omg I’m so jealous of your Highlands adventure! That is something I would like to do one day myself! Thanks for these essentials πŸ™‚

  5. Kelly Diane says:

    Great tips Kim. Whilst I don’t go hiking up mountains, I do like to go walking along coastal paths. Whilst it’s not something I “take”, I always make sure I plait my hair otherwise it ends up being one huge knotted mess

  6. Lauren says:

    I have only been on a couple of hikes. Although I do like walking, in nature the fresh air. It just makes you feel so awake! These are some great tips for beginners and people looking to do more hikes like me. Thank you for sharing Kim xx

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