An Essential List for Day Hikers Venturing into Backpacking

Doug Williams

So, you want to get into backpacking which is great news, good for you, it’s an excellent choice.

For first-time hikers, there are a few guidelines to help you stay safe while venturing out and into new environments. Sure, some people think that they can handle their first all-day trip and immediately decide they can spend the night, too. Well, expert hikers will tell newbies that it is not safe, especially on their first try. It takes a lot of preparation and some experience in order to spend 24 hours outside without some sort of hitch.

We’ve spent hundreds of nights in the woods and generally you always need to prepare if you’re to have an enjoyable time. We’ve got some kit stashed here at Outdoor Revival HQ for those spur of the moment trips, it’s gear that we know will allow us to sleep warm and comfy and be protected from the elements.


So, what’s the big deal? Well, new hikers who want to try a ‘night out’ need to do some research and choose the right type of bedding. You need to make sure you have sleeping gear that will keep them warm enough for the climate where they’ll be hiking.

Getting a warm sleeping bag and a decent sleeping mat isn’t that hard, but then you need to make sure you can fit it in yours pack, there’s a general correlation between expense and size when it comes to sleeping bags, the more you spend the smaller you can get for warmth and smaller size.

Those who are regular day hikers may not have as hard a transition as new hikers. Day hikers most likely have all of the essential clothing and layers needed, as well as the right kind of shoes and kit. There may be several new pieces of gear needed, though, such as a headlamp to see in the dark. If a hiker is traveling with another person, the two can share some of the equipment, cutting down on bulky backpacks.

The first piece of equipment is probably the most obvious – a tent or some kind of shelter. Tents are the best way to go when hiking, considering many can be packed up and put inside the backpack.

Tents can be as large or small as needed, as well as heavy-duty for more extreme weather conditions. If you generally hike with the same person, we would suggest splitting the cost of a heavier duty tent.


The second piece needed will be a sleeping bag or bedding of some sort. You should definitely consider investing in a sleeping pad, it makes a huge difference to comfort and warmth. This will allow extra cushioning and hold in heat, insulating you from the cold, hard ground.

Another essential item is a camp stove and the right fuel for it. The key to getting the best stove is that it’s small enough to carry while being powerful enough to cook your food in a reasonable amount fo time. If it’s an expense too much, you can make your own “cat food can stove” or have a campfire.

In order to drink water safely on a trip, a water purifier is necessary. Even the clearest stream or water source contains many nasty little microbes and bacteria that can make you ill. The key is to treat the water with a purifier and a filter for best results. Any hiker can learn through trying various methods and purification systems which one they prefer.

A large backpack is next on the list. When we say large, it has to be large enough so that all your kit and supplies can be carried in it. Experts consider a 45-liter capacity the perfect fit for the hike, especially for an overnight hike.

However, if you carry lighter gear, a smaller pack is always worth considering, the smaller the pack, the lighter the weight you have to carry and the less weight to carry the easier the walk is going to be.

Please remember that buying gear is expensive and it adds up to a lot of money fast. Don’t skimp on the important bits of kit and satisfy yourself with inferior gear, it’s got to last, and it’s got to do Its job all the time you’re using it. If you can’t afford something, then save for it and do you best to by the appropriate kit for you and your activity.

Another point worth bringing up is packing. Not only is it essential to know how to pack things so they are comfortable on your back, such as packing the heavier things closer to the spine, but it’s a good idea to carry the essentials where they are easy to get to – no one wants to stop and dig through a large backpack for a small item they need in a hurry.

It is also important to not have items dangling off the backpack itself as they’ll often get snagged on things or lost, the exception would be if you’re in bear country and you’ve got stuff hanging off you pack to make noise to warn the bears that you’re in the area.


Depending on where the hike is to take place, it may be a park rule to pack foods inside bear-proof bags or canisters. However, it’s considered best that all food is kept in an animal-proof container.

Gear is also needed for making repairs – you will never know when something is going to break, and it is most likely to be at the most inconvenient time when you’re nowhere near civilization or your vehicle. Duct tape is great and can be used for many things. However, for purifiers, beds, tents, and more, it is important to have the right types of repair kit to fix them.

I know I’m repeating myself but it is most likely that you will be some distance from a road or vehicle if and when something happens.

One of the worst things to happen to any hiker is becoming wet and cold. For those of you who are new to hiking, it is best to do a practice hike before going out in the wilderness. This can be achieved by driving to a nearby campground that has trails nearby.

You should pack the backpack at home, drive to the campground, and pretend there aren’t people or cars around. This way you can see what you’ve forgotten or what can be improved upon before getting your pack on for a fantastic nighttime camp.


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We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it.

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fmssolution is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival