Day hiking is supposed to be fun. And part of the fun is a light backpack for easy walking. Unfortunately, most day hiking gear lists are way too heavy. But on the other hand, you DO want all the right gear to be safe!
So what to do? At only 3 pounds, this ultralight day hiking gear list will help you select the right hiking essentials to keep your daypack light, a spring in your step, but still keep you safe and happy. Better yet, it has a lot of inexpensive gear so you won’t go broke in the process!
The Problem with Most Day Hiking Gear Lists
This day hiking checklist is more comprehensive & useful than other hiking checklists. Here is why:
Most lists don’t have weights for their gear. This inevitably leads to a heavy pack.
Food and Water: They do not give good recommendations for carrying a sensible amount of food and water. Water carried should be based on water availability & hiker preferences. See more in Hydration in 13 Essentials. Food carried should be based on the length of hike & hiker preferences. See more in Nutrition in 13 Essentials
Buckskin Gulch Utah: One of the longest and deepest slot canyons in the world. It’s a fabulous 21 mile, semi-technical canyoneering day hike where a light pack makes a huge difference in having fun!
Day Hiking Gear List
Like most day hiking checklists this is based on a core set of “essentials.” In this case, my popular “13 Essentials for the Modern Hiker —A Realistic 10 Essentials.” (It’s worth a quick read if you haven’t done so.) But my list goes further to give you all the OTHER gear you need to be safe and happy on a long day hike.
Your own “day” pack | Most small to medium backpacks! e.g. $16 HIKPRO 20L, lightweight backpack | Most packs approx. 15 to 30 liters (900 to 1800 in3) should work. I’ve taken my city laptop backpack on daylong technical canyoneering trips!
Light & low cost daypacks L to R from lightest to heaviest: [Far left – $90 MLD Core 22L Pack (6.5-7.5 oz) Made in USA. It’s the lightest pack. Minimal, durable, utilitarian design.], $28 REI Co-op Flash 18; $55 REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack; Ultimate Direct. Fastpack (not low cost, but efficient & full of pockets ), $16 High Sierra Riprap from Costco, the least expensive but heaviest.
ITEM | DETAILS | WEIGHT | COMMENTS
GPS Mapping Navigation | GAIA GPS App$16 25% off with Adventure Alan discount | 0 oz | Don’t leave home without it! See “13 Essentials for Modern Hiker” for more info. on GPS navigation and mapping via smartphone.
Warm Clothing Carried in Pack (select based on expected weather)
ITEM | DETAILS | WEIGHT | COMMENTS
Shirt/baselayer or mid-layer | Patagonia R1 Hoodieor Patagonia R1 Pullover | | Think of it as “fur for humans.” possibly the most versatile cool to very cold weather base layer. It works over an astonishing range of conditions.
Best Lyme & Zika protection: Picaridin (lotion) lasts 40% longer than most DEET products and lacks the downsides of DEET. It has no odor and doesn’t melt plastics or degrade clothing. In Hand: Airline friendly 0.5 pump sprays, last 8 hours are small, pocketable and easily applied in the field. Right rear: Picaridin lotion lasts 14 hours, and can be repackaged into small 1 oz squeeze bottles.
Carry Poo out | Wag bag to carry human waste out (2.5 oz) | | When reg’s require, e.g. Mt Whitney CA
Right: The 0.6 oz Deuce of Spades Potty Trowel, minimal TP, and small bottle of Purell allow for good LNT Waste Disposal for around an ounce. Left: “Wag bag” for when regulations require you carry everything out.
Finally a Few Tips
Bring a change of clean clothes, sandals for tired feet, water, & a snack in the car for post hike.
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Disclaimer: Posts on this site contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on these links, a portion of the sale helps support this site at no additional cost to you. I do not receive compensation from the companies whose products I review. Unless otherwise noted, products are purchased with my own funds. I am never under an obligation to write a review about any product. Finally, reviews express my own independent opinion.
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