As soon as you’ve completed your first day hike, you immediately want to start planning your next one! We know the feeling. The bush can be addictive, but if you don’t know where to begin, what to pack or what to wear, it can also be daunting. If you’ve just started doing a few day hikes and want to make a hobby of it, but you’ve realised your lack of gear is hindering your experience, don’t worry. This blog will give you a thorough overview of the essentials you’re going to need for a day hiking. You’ll be on the trail before you know it!

 

FOOTWEAR

Your choice of footwear makes a massive difference to your comfort on the trail. A good pair of hiking shoes should provide cushioning, grip well, and fit properly so there’s no slip at the heels or pinch at the toes.

Most people don’t need boots for day hiking and will be comfortable in hiking shoes or trail runners. The Merrell Moabs are great for wider feet, the Salomon Women’s XA Elevate or Men’s Sense Ride 3 are perfect for narrow feet. If you want more ankle support, or are looking for an all-rounder for multi-day hikes as well, a lightweight boot like the Scarpa Terra or a mid-boot like the men’s and women’s Salomon X Ultra will give you added support and stability.

Salomon X-Ultra 3 Mid Boot - Perfect ankle support for day hiking for men and women

Salomon X-Ultra 3 Mid Boot – Perfect ankle support for day hiking.

Hiking socks add cushioning and support. The Icebreaker Hike socks are a beautifully breathable merino option. They come in a choice of weights to keep you comfortable in different climates. Prone to blisters? The men’s and women’s Injinji Trail 2.0 toesocks are a great solution and a perfect vegan alternative to traditional woollen hike socks. Learn more about picking the right hiking socks here.

BACKPACK

Your backpack needs to be comfortable to wear all day. Most women will find a women’s specific pack more comfortable than a unisex model. Hiking packs with hip belts offer added support and most daypacks will hold between 15L – 35L in size.

Many of the Osprey packs feature adjustable frames, making it easy to get the fit just right. The men’s Talon 22 and women’s Tempest 20 are great lightweight options, while the slightly burlier Stratos 24 and Sirrus 24 provide added support and have a highly ventilated mesh back. These are a great option for those who run hot.

Osprey Stratos 24 and Sirrus 24 Daypack

Osprey Stratos 24 and Sirrus 24 Daypack.

If your hikes involve more scrambling than walking, the unisex Mutant 22 is a perfect choice. Designed for climbing, the stripped down Mutant sits close against the body, meaning the weight stays centred.

WATER

Bring at least two litres for a full day hike, and more if it’s hot or you tend to drink a lot. Nalgenes are the classic hiking bottle as they are virtually indestructible. Hydration reservoirs (or water bladders) can be useful as they’re easier to access while you’re moving. The Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir and the Camelbak Crux both come in a range of sizes (from 1.5L to 3L) and will all fit in any of the Osprey hiking packs and daypacks.

Hydration for hiking - Osprey and CamelBak hydration bladders, and Nalgene narrow mouth waterbottle

Hydration for hiking – Osprey and CamelBak hydration bladders, and Nalgene narrow mouth waterbottle

FOOD

You burn a lot of fuel while hiking so your packed foods should be energy-dense and satisfying. Dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, jerkies, and energy bars like Clif bars make great snacks, while wraps and rolls make quick and easy lunches. Bring more than you think you’re going to eat. Keeping all your food together in a Sea to Summit Dry Sack contains any leaks and is especially useful if bringing squishables like bananas or tomatoes, or oily spreads like pesto. 

Clif bars in a day pack while out on the trail

Photo by Lachlan Gardiner

CLOTHING

Your clothing should protect you from the elements, dry fast when it gets wet, and be comfortable to move in all day. Wool and synthetics are the best choice for hiking. Cotton (which sponges up water and stays cold when wet), restrictive clothing, and anything delicate is best left at home.

Two day hiker on the trail in Noosa QLD

Photo by Lachlan Gardiner

Tops

Hiking tops should provide sun protection and stay breathable as you work up heat. Merino does this brilliantly and the men’s and women’s Icebreaker Tech Lite tees make exceptionally comfortable hiking tops, even in the height of summer. Merino doesn’t hold body odour, meaning you won’t feel too sweaty after your hike. Lightweight synthetics also breathe well and dry fast. There are plenty of options available, but Patagonia Men’s Airchaser and the Rab Women’s Force Tee are great for hot weather. If you’re looking for more sun protection, collared button ups are your best bet. 

Bottoms

Most hiking pants are made from nylon which offers lightweight stretch, breathes well, and dries fast. The Arc’teryx Lefroy Pants and Oriel Leggings are great picks for comfortable and durable year-round hiking bottoms. In warmer weather, hikers may prefer shorts, or may opt for full length pants for better sun protection. Some brands offer convertible options like the Patagonia Quandary for men and women. In cold conditions, soft shell pants like the Royal Robbins Alpine Road or Arc’teryx Women’s Gamma LT offer wind and water protection to keep you warmer.

Arc'teryx Oriel Leggings Women's and Lefroy Pants Men's

Arc’teryx Oriel Leggings and Lefroy Pants.

Insulation

Layering is the best way to manage temperature in changing conditions. Whatever the forecast, bring one more layers than you think you’ll need. In winter you may want to start with a men’s or women’s Icebreaker 260 Tech merino long sleeve. Fleeces like the men’s and women’s Patagonia Micro D and men’s and women’s Helly Hansen Daybreaker work well as midlayers. Down jackets are fantastic for warmth, but make sure to keep them dry or they’ll lose their insulating properties. The Patagonia Down Sweater in men’s and women’s is a great midweight down option. Gloves, beanies, and neck buffs or scarves are great for frostier hikes.

Insulation Layers - Icebreaker 260 Tech LS Shirt and Helly Hansen Daybreaker Fleece Jacket

Insulation Layers – Icebreaker 260 Tech LS Shirt and Helly Hansen Daybreaker Fleece Jacket.

RAINWEAR

Weather can change quickly, especially in the high country. If you’re out for more than an hour or two you should pack a rain jacket. Not only will it keep you dry, waterproof jackets shield you from cold wind, and provide protection from biting insects and sharp scrub. If you’re only going on day hikes, a lightweight rain jacket like the Patagonia Torrentshell or the Marmot PreCip is a great option. If you want something you can also take on multi-days, or use for other sports like skiing or climbing, it’s worth investing in a high quality hardshell like the Patagonia Women’s Pluma or Men’s Triolet that will keep you dry through years of heavy use.

In very wet conditions a pair of lightweight Patagonia Torrentshell Pants and an Osprey Hi Vis Pack Cover are useful, but for most day trips a rain jacket is all you need.

Rain protection - Patagonia Pluma Gore-tex Jacket and Marmot PreCip Waterproof Jacket

Rain protection – Patagonia Pluma Gore-tex Jacket and Marmot PreCip Waterproof Jacket

SUN PROTECTION

If you’re out all day in the Australian sun you’ll need to give some thought to UV protection. Broad brim or legionnaires’ hats like the Barmah Drover offer the best coverage, but caps and bucket hats still provide some protection. Lightweight neck gaiters like the Buff Original are great for stopping your neck from burning and are fantastic multi-purpose items. Polarised sunglasses are a must-have during summer, as is a high UPF sunscreen like the Cancer Council Sport Sunscreen.

Hiker applying sunscreen while in the bush

Photo by Lachlan Gardiner

NAVIGATION

You’ll need some way of finding your way around the trail and home again. Some popular areas may have well marked trails and direction signs, but for anywhere more remote you’ll need to bring some way to navigate. This could be a map and compass (the Suunto A-30 is a great option), a GPS device like the Garmin eTrex, a guidebook, or a GPS phone app such as Gaia Maps. Whatever system you’re using, make sure you’re familiar with it before you head out and that your batteries are fully charged.

Navigation - Garmin E-Trex and Suunto A-30 Compass. These are just 2 of many different options for day hiking navigation.

Navigation – Garmin E-Trex and Suunto A-30 Compass.

FIRST AID

No matter what hike you’re going on you should bring some form of first aid kit. You can put one together yourself but the Adventure Medical Kits .3 First Aid Kit is a comprehensive ultralight, and fully-waterproof option for dealing with cuts, scrapes, insect bites, and blisters. Make sure to bring your personal medications with you. Also, it is always a good idea to take bandages and know what to do if a snake bite occurs. If you’re headed for a snowy alpine hike or anything cold and wet, a Coghlan’s Emergency Blanket is lightweight, inexpensive, and potentially very useful.

HEADTORCH

Even if you’re planning on only being out during the day, it’s pretty easy for a missed turn, uphill slog, or enticing side trail to have you getting back after dark. A head torch is a super useful piece of kit to keep in your bag and means you’ll have both hands free for any after dark scrambling. The Petzl Tikkina is a solid all-rounder that will see you through day hikes and multi-days alike. If you’re on the trail regularly, you might want to invest in a rechargeable model like the Petzl Reactik or the Black Diamond ReVolt.

Head Torches - Black Diamond Revolt, Petzl Tikkina and Petzl Reactik

Head Torches – Black Diamond Revolt, Petzl Tikkina and Petzl Reactik.

TOILET KIT

If your hike takes you far from serviced amenities you’re going to want a toilet kit. Follow Leave No Trace principles and bring a trowel like the Sea to Summit Pocket Nylon Trowel as well as a packet of Wilderness Wipes, tissues or toilet paper, a small bottle of Wilderness Wash or hand sanitiser, and some zip lock bags for packing out all non compostable waste. Be sure to go at least 100m from any water source and to bury your waste in a hole at least 15cm deep.

HIKING POLES

You probably don’t need hiking poles for day trips, but they can make a big difference to the comfort and enjoyability of a hike. If you’re trying to push your mile limit, or if joint or balance issues are holding you back, then a set of poles can make a world of difference. Poles take the strain off your knees and give you two more balance points on rough terrain. The men’s and women’s Black Diamond FLZ poles fold up small making them easy to pack and travel with. If you want an extra bit of support, the Black Diamond Trail Pro Shocks have in-built shock absorbers to cushion impact on the trail.

 

Black Diamond Hiking Poles - FLZ and Trail Pro Shocks

Black Diamond Hiking Poles.

Day hiking is a great way to get out and explore the natural world. The right kit means you’ll be prepared in changing conditions and can keep hiking more comfortably come rain, hail or shine. Hopefully your love of day hiking will keep growing, and you’ll be ready to tackle an overnight hike soon! We’ll have all the tips for you when you get there too.

Don’t forget to tag us in your adventures on Instagram, we always love to see what our customers are up to!

#ExperienceIsEverything | #PaddyPallin

About The Author

admin

Some 80 years ago, a young bushwalker's dissatisfaction with the limited and heavy bushwalking equipment available prompted him to design and make his own. Before long, word spread, and Paddy Pallin's lightweight, functional designs were soon in demand among fellow bushwalkers. From its early days the company has concentrated on supplying bushwalkers, travellers and adventurers with the highest quality and most advanced products and knowledge. Since 1930 the company has grown to become Australia's leading supplier of specialist outdoor and travel gear. The company, still owned by the Pallin family, now has thirteen stores throughout Australia as well as online, mail order and corporate sales divisions. We are using our vast wealth of knowledge, and experience, to build an online community where we can share our stories, reviews and tech tips to help you research and plan your next adventure.

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