Hiking Essentials – What to Pack for a Day Hike

day hike essentials

Hello friends! I took a few weeks off to travel around Europe (if you missed it, you can read my first few posts from my trip here and here, so much more to come!) and I’m finally back with another post. Today’s is all about day hike essentials! I’m sharing everything you’ll need to be well prepared for a day hike in the mountains.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, it’s really important to plan ahead and be safe while hiking, even if it’s only for the day. You never know what emergencies might happen, or sudden weather changes etc. Here’s a list of essential things to bring to help you enjoy your hike as much as possible. If you’re in and around Vancouver, hiking season isn’t over yet! There’s still time to get in some hikes in September and October, so fingers crossed for good weather.

Day Hike Essentials

Food and Snacks

I’m a foodie, so naturally I start with food first! It’s super important to pack enough food and snacks with you while hiking. Hiking burns a ton of calories and replenishing those energy levels is key to get you through! Items that are lightweight, portable and simple to eat work perfectly for the outdoors. I love packing a sandwich for lunch (sometimes two depending on how grueling the hike is), sturdy fruit that wont get squished in my bag like apples and lots of snacks. I like to bring a few granola bars or protein bars (my favourite are Clif bars), a bag of trail mix with nuts, seeds and dried fruit and most definitely a chocolate bar.


I can be a bit lazy and stopping to take a drink from a water bottle feels like a bit of a hassle to me. I like to make it easy and convenient so I carry a camelbak (water bag) of water in my bag (with no more than 3 liters of water). If you don’t have one, regular water bottles do work great as well. Be sure to have a lot of water with you, a good minimum amount (depending on the length of the hike) is 2 L of water.

Bear Spray

I always like to carry bear spray when I’m hiking in BC and most definitely in Alberta. For some of the popular hikes around Vancouver and North Vancouver like the Grouse Grind or Lynn Canyon it’s not really necessary. Despite this, I’d rather be safe than sorry! You can purchase bear spray at Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) for about $35 dollars. Tip – keep your bear spray readily accessible and easy to grab, not in your back pack. I’ll hang mine in the holster that comes with it on a belt loop or on a strap on my day bag.

First Aid Kit

It’s a good idea to carry a small first aid kit with a few essential medical supplies such as bandages, gauze, Ibuprofen, a small headlamp, safety pins, Polysporin, little scissors, antiseptic wipes, tape. You can even throw some water purifying tabs like Aqua tabs in as well. They sell small day hike first aid kits if you want something that’s already put together for you. If you’re planning on doing an overnight or multi day hike, your first aid kit will include more items.

Warm Layer

I recommend bringing a warm outer layer such as a windbreaker or shell (bonus if it’s waterproof) that you can easily put on if it’s colder than you expected or if it starts to rain etc.  If I have room in my bag or if it’s a chilly on the morning of the hike, I’ll wear a lightweight sweater as well.

Day Bag

This is an essential item to carry everything you need! I bought an affordable Roots bag at Winners here in Vancouver. You can find fancier ones online and at sports stores (e.g. Sport Chek) and hiking stores like MEC. Your day bag shouldn’t be too heavy because hiking is tough enough already! Try to keep your items as light as possible and even disperse the weight amongst the others you’re hiking with.

Bug Repellent

You will be so happy you brought this with you! Sometimes a hike can be buggier than expected and its a great idea to keep a small bottle of bug repellent in your day bag if you find yourself in a cloud of mosquitoes.

Sun Protection

This is another day hike essential! Make sure to bring a small tube of sunscreen (and apply some before you head out for the day), especially in the summer. Even when I’m hiking in the winter I’ll wear sunscreen because that snow is dang reflective! Make sure to bring sunglasses and even a brimmed cap like a baseball hat. Ain’t nobody got time for wrinkles!


A good tip if you don’t have a paper map is to take a photo of the map that they have on one of the boards at the start of the trail with your cell phone. Even if it’s a popular trail with hundreds of other hikers on it its always a good idea in case you get lost. It wouldn’t hurt to throw in a compass as well if you’re hiking on a less popular trail.

As always, thank you so much for reading. Is there anything else I should include in this list? What are your favourite day hikes? Tell me in the comments! I’ve added a Pinterest friendly image below for easy reference, so feel free to pin away! I’m heading out on another hike this weekend and you can follow along via my Instagram stories @candice.camera to see where I’m heading!

xoxo Candice

Day Hike Essentials

Leave a Reply