Packing List: Day Hiking

The Real Secret: Know Where You're Going, and Plan Accordingly (Photo © Corbis)
Naked Hiking Day

The first day of summer every year sees thru-hikers up and down the Appalachian Mountain Range observe this most revealing of traditions. Taking part in Naked Hiking Day is indeed liberating, but it's also hard not to laugh while swinging and swaying down the trail, realizing the next bend could bring an awkward encounter with repulsed day hikers. I'm not sure where the tradition began, but Naked Hiking Day is very real. It's also not condoned by the authorities. But taking part in this most slight of indiscretions is perhaps worth it, as you'll bond like hell with your hiking partners, hopefully from a safe angle and distance. You'll feel ridiculous as you bust your butt up long climbs and down endless descents, sitting bare-bottomed on downed trees or leaning against cold rocks. I did. And maybe that's the point.—TG

Get Geared Up

One of the best things about a day hike: You don't need to bring too much. A few hours and you'll likely need little more than a few liters of water, a jacket, a snack, and something to carry it all. Longer outings typically mean the same gear, just a bit more food—break up the day by packing a sandwich from your favorite deli for lunch.

The best strategy is to check the weather reports before going out, and pack accordingly. To help in that pursuit, the list below covers just about everything you'd need for a day-long outing. And when it comes to clothing, no cotton. If you get wet, it'll take the duration of your hike to dry.

Day backpack
2 one-liter water bottles
Map, trail directions, or guidebook

Trail-running shoes or hiking boots
Wicking T-shirt (or long-sleeve if colder)
Fleece jacket (or vest if warmer)
Synthetic pants/shorts (or convertible pants)
Hiking socks
Sun/rain hat
Rain/wind jacket and pants
Fleece/wool hat*

Food (snacks, trail mix, energy bars, or lunch)
Camera and film
Bug repellent
Hiking poles*

*Indicates optional/depending on climate and geography

Published: 7 Jun 2006 | Last Updated: 2 Sep 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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