What should I wear and take with me on a day hike?

When you are new to hiking it’s not always obvious what you need to take or wear. It’s easy to forget important items and I have often learnt this the hard way; returning home with cold hands, soggy feet and a burnt nose on a number of occasions.

Here are my suggestions to help you avoid a similar fate!

What should I wear?

I recommend wearing:

  • A peaked cap
  • A short or long sleeved t shirt
  • Shorts or lightweight trousers/ leggings
  • Hiking socks. Good socks really do help reduce blisters. I love Stance but anything snug and well fitting will do.
  • Hiking boots or trail shoes. I love my Merrill Energis Mid Waterproof Boots.

It’s a good idea to pack:

  • A lightweight warm layer such as a merino wool top or fleece.
  • A hat or headband that covers your ears.
  • A wind and waterproof jacket. This is worth investing in – a good one will last a long time.
  • Gloves. Waterproof ones are a reaaally good idea if you’re hiking in a wet area.
  • A warm jacket – I love my Rab down jacket but you can find cheaper options at places like Uniqlo . I don’t often need it on a walk but my body temperature drops at the end and I get chilly. It’s also surprisingly cooler outside of the city.
  • Waterproof ‘shell’ trousers if the weather looks iffy.

Use your judgement. On a sunny day or in warm countries some of these extra items could be overkill. But I prefer to err on the side of caution in the UK (oh hey, rain!) or if I’m going higher up.

Camino del Norte
Looking super cool

Remember that you don’t need to buy all new or ‘hiking specific’ items, or spend lots of money. Running or gym gear will work just fine. You can ask to borrow items from friends or buy second hand. Just try to avoid anything cotton as it won’t dry if it gets wet!

Can I wear my running shoes?

Running shoes are OK if the terrain isn’t too rough and conditions are good. I recommend getting a pair of lightweight boots or trail running shoes if you can. You’ll be more comfortable and it’ll save you from slipping around in the mud!

Look out for sales and online deals – you don’t need to spend more than £100. You may need to try a few pairs out in a specialist outdoors shop. Like any type of shoe not every pair or brand will be the right fit for your feet.

What should I bring with me?

In addition to clothes I take:

  • A small ‘day pack’ – 25 – 30lt. Try to get one that has a hip belt as this will transfer some of the weight from your shoulders. I love Osprey, but any old backpack is fine so long as it’s comfortable.
  • A ‘dry bag‘ to keep my clothes in. You can use a thick bin bag.
  • Sun cream (even if it’s cloudy).
  • Sunglasses.
  • Plasters.
  • Fully charged phone with a GPS app and route downloaded. I use the Outdoors GPS app (UK only). There are plenty of apps that work worldwide including Viewranger.
  • Fully charged portable battery pack and cable.
  • Water bottle/ s.
  • Cash, cards and keys.

I also consider taking the following items for more challenging routes:

What should I eat and drink?

I love a picnic (and saving money) so I usually take a packed lunch. Unless it’s a very tough route you won’t need to eat much more than on a usual day. I always take a little more than I think I’ll need. I also like to take a flask of coffee or tea and some treats.

I recommend taking 2lt of water per person. You may want to take more on a very hot day, for a long route, or when there won’t be anywhere to fill up en route.

Many routes have places where you can stop on the way for food and drink. Make sure that you plan ahead as this won’t always be the case. Don’t rely on your phone to find places as you may not have signal.

Want to find out more?

How to plan your first day hike 

I hope you find this post helpful – if you have any questions, shout in the comments!

6 thoughts on “What should I wear and take with me on a day hike?

  1. Ive just bought some Merrell hiking boots…hoping they go well & are kind to my feet 😀


    1. Ah yay! They’re the best I love them. Bought the same pair twice now ☺️ Hope you have some great times in them.

      Liked by 1 person

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