What goes in your daypack?

There are 10 essential items you should carry in your daypack when heading out on a hike of up to 4 hours. You should pack a few additional items (extra food, water filter, layers of clothing) if you’re heading out on a full-day hike or into difficult or isolated terrain.

The 10 Essentials

  1. Map
  2. Sun protection
  3. Insulation (jacket, at minimum)
  4. Headlamp or flashlight
  5. First-aid kit
  6. Matches or lighter
  7. Multi-tool and repair kit
  8. Snack
  9. Water
  10. Emergency shelter

Here’s a bit more detail about the 10 essentials.

1. Navigation

  • Map: Carry a map of the area of your hike and study it before you set out.
  • Compass: Learn to use a compass and carry it with you in case you become lost or disoriented.
  • GPS, altimeter (optional)

2. Sun protection

  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat

3. Insulation

  • Jacket, vest, pants, long underwear, gloves, hat (appropriate to area of hike and time of year)

4. Illumination

  • Headlamp or flashlight
    Extra batteries

5. First-aid kit

  • At a minimum, carry a few bandages, dressings, tape, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofin, aspirin, moleskin, whistle

6. Fire

  • Matches or lighter
  • Waterproof container
  • Fire starter

7. Repair kit

  • Knife or multitool
  • Duct tape, safety pins

8. Nutrition

  • At a minimum, take snacks to replace a meal or two

9. Hydration

  • Water bottles/bladder
  • Water filter/treatment

10. Emergency shelter

  • Tent, tarp, bivy or reflective blanket

Beyond the 10 Essentials

These items are handy to carry and can make your trip more enjoyable.

  • Additional snacks (energy bars, gels, chews, trail mix)
  • Energy beverages or drink mixes
  • Utensils/cup
  • Toilet paper/sanitation trowel
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Insect repellent
  • Binoculars
  • Trekking poles
  • Bag for collecting trash
  • Route description or guidebook
  • Interpretive field guide(s)
  • Outdoor journal with pen/pencil
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Extra pair of socks

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