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What to Pack for a Summer Day Hike

If you’re heading on a day hike this summer in any of the US national parks, you won’t want to forget any of the essentials. Check out this list of what to pack for a day on the trails!


Bug Spray: It’s absolutely essential to protect yourself from mosquitoes and bugs while on the trail! Bring plenty of bug spray with you.

Sunscreen: Sun protection is key on a day hike. Don’t forget to reapply periodically!

Sun Hat: A wide brim sun hat or even a baseball cap will protect your eyes and face from the sun, and it’ll help to keep you cool, too. 

Sweat-Wicking Clothing: Opt for sweat-wicking fabrics for your day hike that will keep you cool and will dry quickly while you’re on the trail. 

Quick Dry Towel: A microfiber travel towel is perfect for a day hike because it’s lightweight and won’t take up too much space in your daypack. Use it to dry off after an impromptu swim or wet it and use it to cool down on a hot day.

Sunglasses: Keep your eyes protected from the sun. Polarized sunglasses are preferred.

Raincoat and Umbrella: It’s smart to bring rain gear, regardless of the weather forecast. Especially if you’re hiking in mountainous terrain, weather conditions can change unexpectedly so it’s best to be prepared.

Layers: Toss a light jacket in your day pack, and even consider throwing in a hat and gloves if you’re headed to a high altitude destination where you may experience snow or cold temperatures even in summer. Easily adapt to changing weather. 

Swimsuit: Great if you plan to take a dip during your hike. 

Daypack: This one’s a no-brainer for a day hike. Make sure it’s lightweight, comfortable, and large enough to carry everything you’ll need.

Water Bottle: Bring two! It’s so important to remain hydrated during your day hike, especially under the hot summer sun. 

Snacks: Keep your energy up during your hike with some filling snacks. Trail mix and protein bars are always great options.

Packed Lunch: There’s nothing better than stopping for lunch at a scenic overlook. 

Camera or Smartphone: No matter which US national park you choose, you’ll be glad you brought a camera with you to capture the breathtaking landscapes and unique wildlife. A camera is great if you’re trying to really unplug, but bringing along your smartphone isn’t a bad idea either.

Map: It’s smart to bring both a physical map and an electronic map or GPS with you on your day hike. Be conscious of your surroundings and plan out your route ahead of time to avoid any mishaps.

Hiking Boots: Make sure your boots are well broken-in before you head out to avoid blisters and an unpleasant day on the trail!

First Aid Kit: It’s always good to be prepared in case of emergency. Bring a first aid kit with you to tend to minor scrapes and bruises or more serious injuries. 

Flashlight: Bring a flashlight or headlamp with you just in case. If the hike ends up taking longer than expected or you face unforeseen difficulties along your way, you may find yourself in need of a flashlight to make your way back in the dark.

Hand Sanitizer: An easy thing to toss in your pack, hand sanitizer will come in handy to keep your hands clean and hygienic, especially before touching your face or putting anything in your mouth.

Toilet Paper: Bring toilet paper and a garbage bag with you for proper waste disposal. It’s important to “pack it in, pack it out” and take everything you brought into the park with you when you leave.

Hiking Poles: If you’re planning to hike over rough terrain, you might consider bringing hiking poles with you to make your journey a bit more manageable. 

External Battery Charger: Especially important if you’re using your smartphone for directions, photos, music, or emergency communication, you won’t want to get stuck with a dead phone battery! Bring a small external charger you can toss in your daypack, just in case.