What to Pack for a Day Hike

There’s nothing quite like that feeling you get from stepping off the pavement, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and venturing out into the wilderness. The fact is, we all lead busy lives so for many of us, going out for a short bushwalk or day hike is all that we can manage. In this post I’m giving you a sneak peek inside my backpack (yes, inside a girl’s handbag!) to help you know what to pack for a day hike. I hope it helps!

Royal National Park (Australia's First National Park) South of Sydney

It’s a great feeling… Royal National Park (Australia’s First National Park) South of Sydney

Even if we have aspirations of spending more time away, building up to multi-day backpacking trips, spending just one day in the wilderness is a great way to get used to the feeling of a pack and learning about what works for you.

It’s also the best place to learn the basics so the step up to overnight trips is only a step… not a giant leap!

Creek Crossing

Creek Crossing to avoid the collapsed Calna Creek Bridge (Great North Walk, Ku-ring-gai NP). A good reason to waterproof your pack!

Here’s a quick look at what I take with me when I’m heading off… just for a day! (Download the Printable Checklist here).

  • Backpack (big enough to carry what you have) – my current one is 25 litres which is heaps!
  • Waterproofing your pack – dry bags are good or two good quality garbage bags inside each other.
  • Rain Jacket (if the forecast is good, I’ll just take a light spray jacket)
  • First Aid Kit (essential to know how to use it!)
  • Fire Lighting Kit (Waterproof matches, cigarette lighter, etc)
  • Food (Lunch and snacks)
  • Toilet Paper (+ hand sanitizer, tampons, etc)
  • Map & Compass
  • Water (The amount will depend on the weather forecast and conditions or if you can gather water along the way in creeks and rivers… in which case you will also need a water purifying method as well.)
  • Sun hat
  • Mobile Phone (don’t forget to waterproof it!)
  • GPS
  • Camera
  • Handkerchief (better than tissues in the wild!)
  • Chapstick (Strawberry is my favourite!)
  • Head torch
  • Notepad & Pen/Pencil (in Ziploc bag)
  • Whistle
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect Repellent
  • Warm Clothes to suit the season and forecast (Hat, Down Jacket, Fleece, Thermals, etc)
Wollangambe River on a Day Hike

Wollangambe River (Wollemi NP) on a Day Hike (A bit more adventurous and off-track)

Then, if I’m being a bit more adventurous or going off track, I’ll take these also:

  • PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) – also important if you’re heading somewhere there is no mobile phone coverage, such as deep valleys or canyons. In Australia, you can hire them from my fellow hiking blogger, Neil at  Bushwalking Blog and in the Blue Mts you can borrow them for free from Katoomba and Springwood Police Stations.
  • Gaiters (terrain dependent)
  • Scrub Gloves (gardening gloves to protect your hands)
  • Safety Glasses to protect my eyes if going off-track

You can download my Day Hike Packing List Printable here. I hope you find it helpful!

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  1. Howard says

    Wow, what a great and thorough list! I always bring paracord on my hikes in case the zipper on my bag breaks and I need to tie it shut or I need to hand anything off a tree. Duct tape is also amazing for patching bags and clothes but probably not necessary on a day hike. Thanks again for sharing!

  2. says

    Hi Caro,

    Really enjoyed reading what you include in your pack when you go hiking. I noticed a lot of similarities between our lists, although one thing that I’ve started packing after learning the hard way is a spare set of shoe laces – they have many uses, but most importantly, if a pair breaks when you’re trying to tighten up your shoes, you’re not going to spend the rest of the day struggling with a very loose shoe.

    I haven’t been hiking down under, however looking at the pictures and videos on your blog has me itching to fly over and check it out.

    Keep up the good work on your amazing blog!


    • says

      Hi James, Thanks for stopping by. Would you believe that I actually do have a spare set of laces (OK, maybe just one!) that I keep in my first aid kit? You’re absolutely right that it’s little things like that, that be just be a complete bummer for a day out. Mind you, I’d probably just look to my friends and ask someone to cough up half a shoelace to share with me to get me out of a tight spot 😉

      Oh and stoked that you like the blog too. I’ll go and check yours out!

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