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The Essential Day Hiking Gear List from The Trek

Since thru-hiking has been temporarily canceled, we’re pivoting toward appreciating the things we can do, like shorter outings close to home, and hopefully more extended trips later this summer. Last week I listed the gear I take day hiking, which will be getting lots of use this year. Now we’re going to throw our day-hiking essentials at you, with a few options for versatility / budget, plus the basics of what to carry for hikes of different distances.

Looking for day hikes in your region? Our 2020 NOGO hikers have day hike recommendations for Tahoe, California; Winter Park, Colorado; and Memphis, Tennessee.

Essential Day Hiking Gear

First, what type of hike are you doing? Peakbagging above treeline at high elevations? Or sticking close to town for a relaxed jaunt? You don’t want to overpack, but you also don’t want to be unprepared. Here are the basics to consider when packing your day-hiking bag.

See the full list from Maggie Slepian on the Trek's website here.


May 6, 2022

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Fresh drinking water is essential. This water filtration system ensures you will never run out as long as there is a nearby natural water source. It can filter out bacteria, protozoa and microplastics.

Allen Foster


Faster and more efficient than pumping or waiting for chemical treatments, the Sawyer Squeeze System offers on-the-go hydration at a good flow. This product is long-lasting, affordable, reliable, cleanable, and very user-friendly.

Alan Dixon


But Sawyer was way ahead of me — 15 years ahead, to be precise. In 2008, the brand started its Clean Water for All initiative, which provides Sawyer filters to developing countries around the world. And the company spends 90% of its profits funding it.

Shauna Farnell