Don’t let lengthy gear lists intimidate you — one of the hallmarks of hiking is that it has a relatively low barrier-to-entry. If you aren’t attempting an overnight, all that’s really needed is a solid pair of shoes (sturdy sneakers will often do the trick), and directions to the local trailhead. Anything else that might be required — an extra layer, water, snacks — should easily fit in a small backpack.
According to Patagonia’s latest bag collection, called Nine Trails (which borrows its name from the brand’s trail running collection), that backpack should be simple. Of the countless day hike bags available, many take cues from their larger, multi-day and expedition counterparts — they’re loaded with frames and features that the average hiker may never use, and their volume is wasted on too many specialized pockets. The Nine Trails packs are designed with the essentials in mind: each pack uses one spacious main compartment that’s accessed through a large U-shaped zipper and features expandable stash pockets on the exterior for storage on the go. Patagonia also rigged the packs with mono-mesh back panels that are supposed to be its most breathable yet. (The Nine Trails line isn’t entirely devoid of extras though — there is a small, separate stash pocket.)
The new backpacks are available in 14, 20, 28 and 36-liter volumes, as well as a 15-liter version that’s designed for more active pursuits such as trail running and mountain biking.