GORE-TEX Products Fan Tyler Norris loves two things: people and the outdoors. Bringing the two together means a successful weekend. Day hiking and backpacking are his forte, so we asked him to outline the gear he brings every time he sets out on a trail. Check out his 10 day hike essentials, along with some outliers, below. Wet Beaver Creek offers great views of Sedona’s red rocks, cliff jumping for the adrenaline junky, and prime creek-side real estate for the observer. The foot traffic can be a bit much, but it’s still one of my favorite day hikes to share with others, both Arizona natives and visitors alike. And when Arizona temps reach 100 degrees, it offers an escape from the Phoenix heat to Sedona’s refreshing creeks and cooler-ish weather. Like I said earlier though, there’s a lot of foot traffic and a lot of unprepared folks on the trail. I remember stopping three times to give people water. Three groups who hadn’t prepared for the trail adequately. That’s when I realized people could use a day hike essentials checklist, big time, whether it’s Sedona, Zion, or somewhere in their neck of the woods.
10 Day Hike Essentials
Two water bottles are not enough for an 8-mile round trip hike. I never try to anticipate how thirsty I’ll be by bringing the same amount of water with me every time I set out for a day hike. My pack bladder holds about 3 liters, but if I’m going with a group, I bring my Platypus 3-liter bladder and place it in my pack. I’m not just planning ahead for my pack, but for other groups as well. Always leave some backup water in the car, because day hikers are thirstiest when they open the trunk and see some glistening fresh water. Better yet, get a Lifestraw for trails with a water source and you’ll be able to lighten your load. Do whatever works best for your budget and keeps you hydrated. Hydration is one of the most important factors of any hike, whether it’s a day hike, weekend excursion or an extensive trek along the Appalachian Trail.
Peaches and trails are my favorite combo. I’ve eaten peaches off the trail and they never taste the same. Do the same with a healthy-ish snack. Maybe it’s a Clif Bar, granola, or peanut butter banana sandwiches. Having some food to reward yourself once you’ve reached your destination is great motivation to keep going mid-hike, just don’t commit carbicide. Hiking burns a lot of calories, so make sure you refuel accordingly.
Friends often say I have the goofiest looking pants of the group. But when it gets warm and they’re stuck with their standard pants, I have the luxury of converting my pants to shorts. Tyler’s smart. Be like Tyler. Identify hiking and trail conditions and dress in appropriate hiking pants or shorts.
Your typical school backpack could get by, but I love using a daypack like my 35-liter REI backpack for a hike like Wet Beaver Creek. If a few members of my group don’t have a pack, I’ll go with a more serious pack like my Osprey Atmos 65-liter backpack. Both have enough room to carry that extra water I mentioned earlier along with any other miscellaneous item a group member might get tired of carrying. If I know going into a hike that someone might not have the capabilities to carry their entire load, I plan ahead and ensure myself or another member is able to help out. Be prepared to carry your hiking needs in an appropriate pack.
Trail-ready Boots and Shoes
I hate blisters. I can’t think of a worse thing to come home to than blister-ridden feet. Hiking boots take a long time to break in, so make sure you have footwear that’s adequately prepared for the trail and follow the proper break-in procedure. I like GORE-TEX SURROUND® shoes, as their breathability works great in the hot AZ weather and they require little break in time. Assess the terrain and outfit your feet with the right hiking shoes for the trail at hand.
Fully Charged Phone
(emphasis on the “fully charged” part) It’s vital to have some way of communicating with the outside world if something bad happens. I always tell at least five people where I’m going and when I plan on coming back. If I’m late or forget to touch base on my way home, they can call and check-in. Always play it safe and communicate your hiking whereabouts, timeline, and team.
It’s best not to rely wholeheartedly on your smartphone apps. The smarter solution is to pack for unforeseen circumstances and weather. I always hike with a comfortable pair of socks, a wicking fiber shirt, and a backup shell in case of rain. And yes, I hike in sunny Arizona, but weather snaps here on the trails like any ridge or mountain. Make sure your hiking clothing will keep you safe and uncompromised in the elements.
We all burn. Some more easily than others, but the sun has it’s way with us all in the end. Don’t come home with an embarrassing sunburn. I prefer SPF 35, but the most important number is one. Bring at least one bottle of sunscreen and apply before you hit the hiking trail. Seasoned day hikers know the importance of sunscreen and protecting their skin from excess rays.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of kicking off your shoes after a long day of work. Multiply that feeling by a million after you’ve gone hiking. I normally have my Chacos waiting for me in the car, but some normal flip-flops or sneakers should do. You might even check out some of the GORE-TEX SURROUND® casual shoes as a great post-hike option for comfort and breathability.
This needs some explanation. I go about hiking with the mentality that when I get to the top of any mountain, I can put on my pair of googly eyes and snap a pic. It’s a fun tradition I started doing in 2015 and it’s made hikes really entertaining. It doesn’t have to be googly eyes for you, but anything that mixes things up makes a hike that much more fun
Hiking Odds and Ends
So now you’ve got your day hike essentials. If the list seems light don’t worry. I asked around for more items people bring on their hikes and the responses were amazing. Keep in mind these aren't day hike essentials, but that doesn’t mean they’re not great additions to your next hike.
Take a Hike
You’ve just read the best day hike essentials checklist of your life *kidding*. You’ll most likely need to add some items based on your specific needs, but it’s a starting point – a first step, if you will. (Note: if you're new to hiking, I highly recommend you check out these hiking tips.) Now that you have a legit day hike essentials checklist, why not get involved in your local hiking group? I didn’t touch heavily on the clothing aspect of a day hike, but there’s a gear checklist on what you should wear hiking on the blog already! And for East Coast hikers, you should definitely put this list to the test on some of our favorite Northeast and Southeast hiking trails. Photos courtesy of Mac Alyea photography (Go check his stuff out!)