What to Pack for a Day Hike

Longtime hiker and Curvy Kili Crew member  Andrea shares her packing list for a day hike. Check out all of her tips and tricks before you hit the trail.

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While not all of us are ready to embark on a weeklong adventure hiking up one of the world’s highest mountains, a local day hike can be a fun, managable way to be active. With the Dia&Co Wellness Community taking on a walking challenge this month, we turned to Curvy Kili Crew member and lifelong hiker Andrea DiMaio to share with us her list must-haves for the trail. While she isn’t an official expert, she has hiked most of her life and has learned what works and what keeps her safe. If you’re hiking on a very cold or very warm day, be sure to adjust as her recommendations are for a moderately warm day.

Written by Andrea DiMaio.

Taking a few hours on a day off to do a day hike is one of my favorite things in the world. Hiking lets me forget about my to-do lists and breathe in fresh air. I’m here to share with you the garments I wear and the items I pack for a day hike so that you too can enjoy the outdoors!

If you are brand new to hiking, it may be a good idea to first go with an experienced friend or group. You can find a local hiking group that can introduce you to different trails in your area, and if you’re really lucky, you can find a body-positive hiking group! If you can’t find a group or prefer to go solo, I’ve found hiking alone can be very relaxing. One of my favorite hiking buddies is my husky, Rammu. He is always up for a hike no matter what time of day or the weather conditions. If you’re like me and have a dog to hike with, be sure to observe the area laws as dogs are not allowed on all trails. If they are allowed, be mindful of the leash laws of that area and be sure to bring enough water for both of you.

Andrea DiMaio on a hike, hugging a tree.

Safety Is Key

Always be aware of the difficulty level of the trail you pick. A great resource for picking a trail and discovering the levels of difficulty is the app and website, All Trails. With the paid version, you can use the app to download maps to your phone which is perfect if you trek somewhere with no cell or internet service. Each time you head out on a hike, tell two people at home exactly where you’ll be and around what time you expect to arrive home. If you are brand new to hiking, starting off on paths at a local park is a great option.

Andrea DiMaio on a hike in the snow with her dog, Rammu

What to Wear

When it comes to picking your trail outfit, first things first: absolutely no cotton (Yes, that includes cotton underwear!). When you sweat, cotton absorbs the moisture. So if the temperature drops a bit throughout the day, that moisture in your clothing can make you very cold. Instead, think about activewear with moisture-wicking ability, the same thing you would wear to work out in. My favorite hiking pants are actually leggings from my Dia Active Box. If it’s a bit cold out, I will double up and layer my leggings under other pants. While there are pants made specifically for hiking that are lightweight and breathable, you don’t need to invest in something like that for most day hikes. The same advice goes for your top—wear something that will wick the moisture away from your body. When I start a hike in the cool morning, I’ll layer a long-sleeve top over a short sleeve or tank top. This allows me the flexibility to remove or add layers as my body heats up or cools down.

On my head, I’ll wear a hat with a brim when it’s sunny out. No matter what the weather, I always make sure to have a pair of sunglasses on me.

Andrea DiMaio on a hike.

Footwear

On my feet, I make sure to wear socks that, again, aren’t cotton. I like to wear socks made from either wool or a synthetic material. Just like when it comes to the rest of your clothing, you’ll want socks that wick moisture away from your skin. When it comes to shoes, I prefer a good waterproof hiking boot but you can always start out with a supportive sneaker that is comfortable and will protect your feet. As you hike more and find that you want to go further distances or attempt more difficult terrain, I recommend you invest in quality hiking boots or shoes from an outdoor store where you can try on different styles.

Andrea DiMaio's hiking essentials to fill her day pack with.

 

In My Pack

This is what you’ll find in my backpack:

  • Water
    I always bring more water than I think I’ll drink on the trail. In case I get turned around and end up being there longer than expected, I’ll still have water to drink. The rule of thumb is to bring a half liter of water for every hour of hiking you plan to do. When it’s hot out, it’s a good idea to bring some more water.
  • Snacks
    Just like with water, I bring more snacks than I think I’ll need just in case I get lost or stuck. Some of my favorite easy snacks are protein bars, trail mix, energy gummies, and chocolate. If it’s really cold, I’ve discovered protein bars can freeze! If it’s warm, I like to bring an apple or an orange.
  • Extra Socks
    In case I step in water when crossing a stream or stepping into a puddle, having an extra pair of socks will keep my feet warm. Also, hiking in wet socks leads to blisters!
  • Rain Jacket or Poncho
    Just in case! You never want to be caught in a sudden downpour without a jacket.
  • An Extra Warm Layer
    Depending on the time of year and elevation, an extra layer may be a lightweight jacket or a fleece. Just steer clear of cotton.
  • First Aid Kit
    A small kit with the essentials: bandages, moleskin for blisters, wound cream, and over-the-counter pain medicine. I also keep a bandana in my kit because it can be used for anything from making a splint to tourniquet, or even a damp cloth to cool off with.
  • Head Lamp
    If you end up being out much longer than planned, this is a useful thing to have with you to be safe. It’s happened to me before! Be sure to check it regularly to make sure the batteries don’t need to be replaced.
  • Bits and Bobs
    I add a space blanket, which is a lightweight and inexpensive packable metallic sheet that helps retain body heat in case of an emergency. I also pack waterproof matches and a lighter just in case I need to start a fire. Even when I don’t have reception, I always pack my cell phone. At the very least, it serves as a lightweight camera and a compass. It’s always a good idea to pack a map of the area, as well.

 

Now, you’re ready for your first hike! This list should help you feel more confident to embark on your adventure. We all belong in the outdoors—yes, you belong in the outdoors! I cannot wait to hear about your adventures. Be sure to snap some photos and tag them on social with the hashtag #fittothrive.

Andrea DiMaio on a hike with her dog Rammu.

Andrea DiMaio

is an avid hiker and Curvy Kili Crew member.