For many of the outings I have posted, you will only need the basics included here for your adventure. I have included a couple different tiers of gear and gadgets for your day trips depending on the specifics of the particular outing you are going on; have fun, be safe, and make it a great adventure!

Day Trip Basics:

  1. Backpack: Most any will do for a shorter outing; this is highly up to each individual’s opinion, so I am going to stay out of recommending one specifically. However, I use my Lowepro Camera Bags for most every outing – Dry Zone Rover or Flipside 300.
  2. Water Bottle: If your backpack does not have a hydration bladder integrated into it (or you think you will need more than the capacity of the bladder), bring along extra water bottles as needed. I use Sigg 1.5 liter bottles regularly and Nalgine Bottles also work well. If you want an extra water bladder for your backpack or as a spare, that is an option as well.
  3. Snacks: You will likely have your personal snacks of choice, but mine are Pure Protein Bars, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Lara Bars, and Trail Mix. If you have the time and want to make your own snacks, come back later check out my guide on Food for the Journey!
  4. Hat: Whatever fits your fancy! As long as it protects your head.
  5. Sunglasses: If they aren’t polarized, I would argue it’s not worth wearing them. A good set of polarized sunglasses are of value in the outdoors and in everyday life (particularly if you have light colored eyes!). Your older self will thank you. I wear an older version of these Oakley Sport Sunglasses when out and about in the outdoors.
  6. Sunscreen: Just do it. Burns are no fun and skin cancer is even less fun! While the spray on sunscreen has become popular, I’m still a fan of the good old fashioned lotion-type.
  7. Shoes: You will surely want a good pair of hiking boots or trail running shoes! Brooks are my favorite trail running shoes and are really the only footwear I use on outings in Arizona (Brooks for Men and Brooks for Women). If you need additional ankle support, consider a full hiking boot. If you are looking to strengthen your ankles, get a Bosu Ball and do a series of one legged squats on it each day (with or without additional weight, pending your ability).
  8. Socks: In addition to the pair on your feet, having an extra pair of socks in your backpack doesn’t hurt, particularly if there is a chance of getting wet at some point along your journey. I’ve never gotten a blister on my feet when hiking and running in Balega socks. They have crew and low ride sock configurations.
  9. Pocket Knife and/or Multi-Tool: I’ve been amazed at how often I have needed a pocket knife even when on a short hike. Usually it is not for myself, but for someone I encounter on the trail having troubles with a shoe lace, piece of clothing, etc. You could probably do without a pocket knife, but you never know when it might come in handy, even a small one!
  10. Towel: A beach towel may be applicable depending on the adventure of choice, but for general adventuring I would recommend one of these LifeVenture super-compact and ultra-absorbant towels. Though small, I have used them with great success for many years on various travels domestically and abroad.

Day Pack Extras for the Overachievers / OCD Types Amongst Us (Yours Truly Included):

  1. Compass: You never know when you might need this. The boy scout within says you should have one on you at all times when in the outdoors. Get the Suunto Global Compass that will work in both the northern and southern hemispheres…when you head south, you won’t need to get another compass!
  2. Safety Whistle: I carry one to minimize the likelihood that I will need it. 😉
  3. CPR Mask and/or Sheet: If you are an active type, this is less likely to be for you personally, but for potential use on someone else you encounter on your outing. If you aren’t CPR certified, I would recommend you find a local class and become certified!
  4. Neoprene Socks (If Applicable): If you are going to be in the water for extended periods of time and it is during the winter, spring, or fall months (perhaps summer depending on your location?), it might be worth getting a pair of neoprene socks to put on under your water shoes or hiking shoes for extra warmth. I’ve had the best luck with 2mm Stohlquist Warmers.
  5. Oral IV’s: I usually carry a few of these on me in the summer months just in case. To date, I have only used an Oral IV once for myself and have handed out a couple dozen to others who look like they’ve been struggling or heading towards dehydration. Oral IV’s are essentially a super-sports drink with all the electrolytes in a compact format without all the sugars of sports drinks; they can be mixed with water or ingested directly. Oral IV’s are available in a 4 pack or 50 pack.
  6. Head Lamp: If there is a chance of you being out and about after dark, be sure to bring along a great headlamp. I’ve tried out a few over the years, but the Black Diamond Spot Headlamp has been the best bang for the buck.

If you are looking to train for a longer hike where you will be carrying a sizable day pack or a full-on trekking backpack, you might want to look into doing your local hikes with a weight vest for training purposes. I’ve had great success with MIR’s weight vests (when I’m not hauling my camera gear around!). They have a variety of weights available if you are looking for more or less (25 Pounds, 40 Pounds, 50 Pounds). Try to stick with the “long” style vest. The “short” style leave you top heavy and not only isn’t realistic to how the weight will be distributed with your backpack, but they also put undue strain on your lower back due to the additional moment force. Use weight vests smart and do NOT overdo it; only YOU know your ability level.

Further Reading:

Outdoors and Wilderness First Aid

Photography Gear & Gadgets

The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools and Techniques to Hit the Trail

Backpacking: The Ultimate Essential Guide to Backpacking and Hiking for the Average Backpacker

About The Author

Jeremy Meek is a native Arizonan with a passion for adventure and discovery of unique experiences. Whether exploring Arizona or setting out on an adventure abroad, Jeremy is constantly scouting truly great adventures and experiences.

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