Day hiking checklist

Use this checklist so you don’t forget anything on your hike. It includes the 10 essentials, which are key items you should always carry when you’re hiking. Learn more about the 10 essentials to be prepared.

Before you head out, read up on the conditions and check the weather and adjust accordingly. If you expect a lot of mud, gaiters might be wise. If there are steep hills, trekking poles could save your knees. And no one ever regrets bringing a treat for the summit.

Pre-trip planning

Check out our day hiking guide for beginners for practical advice on how to plan and prepare for a hike.

  • Research where you’re going
  • Leave a trip plan (like the AdventureSmart trip plan) with a trusted friend
  • Bring a guidebook or printed description of trail
  • Hiking permit, if required

Hiking gear

Clothing and footwear

Leave the cotton behind. Make sure your layers are made of quick-drying materials that wick moisture.

If you’re hiking in the cold or wet, layer on:


Food and water

Sun protection


  • Headlamp or flashlight for each person in your group (the flashlight on your smartphone is not an acceptable substitute)
  • Extra batteries for headlamp/flashlight, or a backup light

Emergency items

Repair kit and tools

Communication device

Optional items