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What to Pack for Hiking – Beginner’s Guide

What should you pack for a day hike?

What to pack for hiking? This is a question we get asked all of the time. It’s all relative, some people need more and want more. Here are some of the trail tested things that we never leave home without!

A question that most people have asked, but don’t have the answer to. Having an emergency hiking kit is imperative!! The Ten Essentials is a great place to start, but that can be a bit much to take on a day hike. Even if you’re just going out for a brief hike, there are still some things that should ALWAYS be with you at all times. Check out what we recommend you should have in your emergency hiking kit! Side note – a lot of this stuff we buy on Amazon and if you purchase anything through our links, we get a little kickback, at no additional cost to you!

Chapstck with SPF

Chapstick with SPF – multiples. DD has every brand under the planet in every pocket of her pack and pockets.  Willow likes SunBum!


Waterproof sunscreen, because you just never know. Add a travel size to your pack! 


Yes, even in summer. We buy them in bulk on Amazon. They are great for warming you up in any situation. Apply them to your arteries or throw them in your sleeping bag for a quick warm up. 

First Aid Kit

This seems obvious, but it should also be customized to fit your personal needs. Are you on any daily medication? Add extra sets to your first aid kit. Do you have asthma? Add an extra inhaler! Get headaches often? Add salt tablets and ibuprofen! You should ALWAYS include ibuprofen to help reduce swelling while hiking. 

Energy Gummies

No seriously these save your life in the hypothetical sense. They can power you over any obstacle. When you have those moments where you can’t go on, you pop one of these babies and all is right in the world. We love Cliff Bloks and GU Energy Chews

Lightweight Gloves

A light version to protect your hands from the elements. You’ll be surprised how many things you can use these for in an emergency situation.

Windbreaker or Rain Coat

Seriously, never leave home without this. It goes a long way. A good waterproof shell should be super lightweight, packable, and breathable. DD has the Marmot Precip (and LOVES the vents on the jacket) , but if you can’t spring for that, any wind/water repellent outer layer will do. Tip: Size up slightly when selecting yours. You want to make sure it zips! 

Buff and or a bandana

A lightweight buff can be used for a neck protector, a headband and a sweat rag. Voila! We love these 6 packs from Amazon.

Water, water, and more water! Plus purification.

Seems obvious, except for how much you need to bring! 2 liters is always a safe bet.  I pack a filter too, JIC, when I am hiking in areas I don’t know well. But a Nalgene or a Camelbak hydration system is key. If it’s hot – hack – freeze your bottle or Camelbak halfway and let it melt to keep the water cold.


Literally, never leave home without these. ESPECIALLY if you’re hiking!!!!!!! You need fuel. My favorites are trail mix (GORP), beef jerky, salted nuts, potato chips, and fruit. 

A Paper Map & GPS Trail

A paper map! Bring a waterproof version if you can, but we like these waterproof alock sacks for keeping maps when traveling. Also good for many other things. Originally got these in our Cairn box!

We also recommend you downloading your trail map from All Trails, and bringing some sort of GPS tracking device, even if that’s a fully charged phone with a battery backup. 


Your nose WILL run. Forgetting tissues has made me a skilled snot rocket shooter.

Bug Spray!!!!!

I swear by the Natrapel insect wipes. I keep a few everywhere, bag, glovebox, camping kit….We also keep Vick’s Vapor Rub in containers in our packs to ward off the bugs. It works! Put it behind your ears. 

Pocket Blanket or Emergency Blanket

This never leaves my pack – we’ve used it for picnics, breaks, warming up feet in emergency situations, and of course, sledding down mountains. You really need this – trust us.


You can bring a small  firestarter anywhere on the trail. Why wouldn’t you? I leave it in my bag all the time.

Head Lamp

If you get lost, finding light should be the last thing you’re worried about. Bring extra batteries too!

Extras of stuff you always have

Compass, carabiner, food, fuel, etc. In case you have a get up and go day and you don’t have time to shake up your pack! Having great places to store extras is also super efficient. 

Lightweight Pocket Knife

Good for freeing legs from emergency unexpected situations and also opening oranges and cutting tags off new trail gear.

What do you always keep in your day hiking pack?? Tell us!! use #LoveMaineAdventures 

Happy Trails!


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Florida born, Maine living. Outdoor life is for me. I love adventures - hiking -photography - running - camping - reading - creating - learning - traveling - deep eddy vodka - cats and living, basically. Follow me on social - @DanielleDorrie