DLTK's Blog
Packing for a Day Hike
August 2019

I am a massive fan of spending time in the outdoors! My partner and I try to go for at least one dayhike or backpacking trip per weekend in the summer. There are a lot of reasons we love hiking:

View from a rocky patch on the Mount Lady MacDonald hike near Canmore, AB.

When we do go hiking it is very important to us that we are prepared and safe. We have a full checklist and an organized box of our hiking gear to make sure that we don't leave behind anything important.

Most people that we see on backcountry camping trips are likeminded people with all the appropriate gear and safety equipment. Unfortunately, when we are out on day hikes, it seems that quite a few people are unprepared. Perhaps this is because a day hike trip doesn't seem like as much of a commitment as going on an overnight hike.

I think that learning how to be prepared in the outdoors is hugely important, so I thought I would share with all of you my “Packing for a Day Hike” checklist! When I was younger my parents consistently aimed to teach me about preparedness and they also sent me to an outdoor summer camp that taught me the skills I need to be safe when exploring nature. So I was hoping that by sharing my knowledge with all of you would be one way to help teach a new generation of outdoor explorers to be safe in nature!


Clothing is always the first thing I pack for a day hike. I like to look at weather to know what to expect, but also make sure to bring some essentials with me regardless of the weather report. If you want some extra information you can look at my mom's blog post on “Dressing the Family for a Hike”.

Clothing to pack for a dayhike


There a a number of basics that I always make sure to bring with me on a hike, even if my day hike is relatively close to home or low difficulty.

Basic gear to pack for a dayhike


My partner and I always make sure to bring our extra safety gear if we are going for a day hike in the wilderness (but maybe not if we are just walking around city parks for the day). Nature is wonderful but it can also be really unpredictable. So having safety equipment on a dayhike is sort of like having car insurance—99% of the time you don't need car insurance, but when something happens that you do need it, you are very grateful that you got car insurance in the first place.

Extra gear to pack for a dayhike


An emergency kit is a great piece of equipment to bring on a hike and to have around just in general. Callum and I like to keep it in the back of the car just in case we go on an impromptu adventure! Callum got this emergency kit at an outdoor store and then we added a few extra pieces too it.

The supplies in an emergency kit to pack for a dayhike


This is my favourite part of packing! My mindset is that I want a hike to be as enjoyable as possible so I like to bring plenty of food and snacks (as long as I can carry it comfortably). The picture below is a slightly paired down version of what we usually bring because this was a packed meal for a shorter 4 hour day hike.

Food to pack for a dayhike

When I am packing food for a hike I try my best to limit the garbage because it is important to be “leave no trace” when out in nature. This means that everything you bring into the wilderness, you also have to bring out. Callum and I even pack out things like apple cores or little bits of dropped food; just because they are compostable doesn't mean they biodegrade quickly. Also, if animals find human food on trails they will become dependant on humans for survival, which is really unfair for the wildlife.

Hopfeully this packing guide has given you a couple useful tips for preparing to hike! It seems like a lot of energy when you break it down, but if you make yourself a little check list or keep your hiking things together it won't take too long. Plus, regardless of the effort, being prepared and safe means that it is a lot easier to have fun on your day hike and enjoy the incredible experiences that nature has to offer!

View from the Mount Lady MacDonald hike near Canmore, AB.


Make It...
Nature Walk Printables

Nature Walk Printables

What you’ll need

  • a piece of paper
  • a pen or pencil to check the things you see
  • a camera, if you're able to find access to one


  • if you can see and check-off that you've seen 80% of the items in the table, then you can give yourself a prize (whether it be an ice-cream cone hot chocolate before or when you get home, or some yummy trail mix)!
  • if you are using a camera, photograph the items you see in the table as you spot them on the trail!
  • enjoy!


For children/adults

Easy Nature Walk Photo-Challenge         color  or   B&W

(find 6 of the objects or animals!)

Difficult Nature Walk Photo-Challenge     color  or   B&W

(find 16 of the objects or animals!)


For younger children

Nature Walk: Animals   color  or   B&W

Nature Walk: Objects   color  or   B&W 


More detailed instructions are available on the Nature Walk Printables page.


Disclaimer: As ever, everything said in this post are my own thoughts. I haven't been given any compensation for the ideas or information that I share here.

Kaitlyn's byline photoAbout Kaitlyn:

I am Kaitlyn, the K in DLTK, and I've been working for the family website since I could hold a crayon. Now I am all grown up and I live with my partner, Callum, and our adorable cat, Juicebox!  When I'm not helping my parents on the site, I am studying psychology at the University of Calgary.  I love my work and my studies, but when I can I love to head out to the mountains and enjoy the outdoors! You can connect with me on Facebook or Instagram. You can also follow my cute kitty, Juicebox, on Instagram.