Most day hikes require a peanut butter sandwich, a water bottle and maybe some bug spray. But for the weekend warrior who wants to crush in one day what most people stroll in three, there are a few indispensables in case the weather turns bad, a friend gets injured or you feel like showing off. Here are our favorite necessities and extravagances for spending a day burning through some miles on the trail.
Madden Daylite Pack
For the casual hiker, the Daylite pack won’t stand out on the trail as a “city” backpack and won’t stand out in the city as a hiking backpack. The Boulder-based company produced an ’87 throwback model, but upgraded the pack with an internal sleeve for hydration on the trail or laptops in the library. An expandable, exterior pocket couples with lashings to strap, shove and stuff everything you need for the trail or subway into one bag.
Ultimate Direction Body Bottle
Besides being the last flask you’ll ever need for sneaking alcohol into a ball game, the soft, flexible Body Bottle fills to 14 ounces while weighing only 1 ounce itself. The flask fits any shape, so it’s perfect for stuffing into an already full hiking pack or fitting snuggly into your hydration vest during a run.
Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Landjaeger
Granola bars are okay, we suppose, if you can’t handle something of higher octane. But for those who don’t want to march up a mountain fueled by peanut butter and some crumbly crackers, landjaeger is a traditional German snack that requires no refrigeration and will hit you in the mouth with enough applewood-smoked energy to make the return journey of any hike. Think Slim Jim for discerning hikers.
Soleus GPS Cross Country Watch
What’s the use in exercising if you can’t tell people how far you went? How can you justify dessert without an exact figure for the calories you burned on your hike? The Soleus calculates distance traveled, altitude and pace, a nifty feature for accurately complaining about how far you have left to travel. The watch is waterproof up to 30 meters and has a compass to point you north.
Nuun Electrolyte Enhanced Drinking Tablet
Nuun’s quick-dissolving drinking tablets simplify electrolyte replenishment while covering up weird flavors from filtered spring water. The Energy variety adds caffeine to the mix for getting over that last hill before dark.
Sol Escape Lite Bivvy
Roughly the size of a soup can and weighing less than six ounces, this emergency shelter is worth having during any hikes in difficult terrain. The breathable but heat-reflective bivvy acts as a warm liner to any sleeping bag or as an emergency shelter against the cold.
Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp
Black Diamond headlamps are among the best for keeping your hands free while lighting up the night. The award-winning ReVolt improves on tech capabilities by including rechargeable (along with traditional) AAA batteries and a USB port for charging. Single- and triple-power LEDs light the trail at adjustable intensities and distances while red LED lights help your night vision.
Mountain Hardwear Chiller Long Sleeve Shirt
Mountain Hardwear’s Chiller Long Sleeve uses sweat-activated Cool.Q ZERO technology to lower the fabric’s temperature before the quick drying fabric leaves it…dry. A zip chest pocket is perfect for quick access to maps, cigarettes or sunglasses.
ECOALF Anorak Windbreaker Jacket
Upcycling clothing company ECOALF teamed up with Cool Hunting to make a durable, light weight and weatherproof rain jacket from 60 percent recycled fishing net. The forest green jacket with camouflage zipper collapses into an inner pack for easy storage when not in use.
Vasque Grand Traverse Performance Hiking Shoes
Pounding serious trail for miles wreaks havoc on your feet, but the Grand Traverse’s vibram soles, EVA foam bed and tough toe box provide protection while its lightweight mesh upper makes for an ideally balanced day hiking shoe.
Gerber Evo Mid-Sized Serrated Tanto Knife
The most experienced ultralight hikers typically don’t bring along a blade bigger than a penknife. But what do they know? When shit hits the fan with a black bear, or if you just need to cut some twine, this titanium nitride-coated blade easily flips out with one flick. While not in use, the knife fits securely in your pocket with a low profile. Let us know how it goes with the bear.
Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight Medical Kit 0.5
Four ounces and the size of a small paperback, this medical kit isn’t meant to mend bones, but is exactly what you need for any day hike mishaps. Bandage scrapes, pop a pain reliever, relieve itchy bug bites and (most importantly) cover any blisters with moleskin before they form. And so you don’t pop open the kit to find the band-aids waterlogged, the kit is sealed inside two durable waterproof bags.
Rite In The Rain Nº 390F All-Weather Field Book Kit
If you’re going out in nature to copy Thoreau, at least have the scrit to scrawl with. Rite In The Rain’s kit offers a waterproof notebook and all-weather pen housed in a soft, durable Cordura zippered case. If you’re hoping to reference trail notes a decade from now, this is your notebook.
Swedish FireSteel 2.0
The FireSteel is one of those never-going-to-use-until-shit-hits-the-fan products. For when lighters run out of fluid and matches break, this all-weather fire starter lasts 12,000 strikes and produces 3,000 degree sparks. It doubles as an emergency whistle and triples as the spark that saves your weekend BBQ when the gas grill won’t catch.