Home Gear Reviews Day Hike Pack List

Day Hike Pack List

by Karen Ung
Everything you need to bring on a family day hikeIt’s that time of year where the whole family is heading out on longer jaunts and we’ve started packing everything but the kitchen sink. So it seems, but I can tell you that we use almost every item every time (it’s great when we don’t need the first aid kit or bug spray though!) and our kids have more fun. Seriously. Your kids will have a better time and thereby play outside longer if they are hydrated, well fed, comfortable (neither freezing nor roasting), lacking in mosquito bites/heat rash/fried skin, and have some of their favorite toys.

The Day Trip Pack List is meant to be used for day trips; however, we carry most of these items most of the time since short outings can turn into long outings. Plus, it’s good backpacker training! May the list serve you well.

Disclosure: To view/purchase items on Amazon, click the hyperlinks. The links are affiliate links (a tiny % of sales goes to support this website), but there is no extra cost to you. 

1. Sustenance

  • Water – We like Nalgene water bottles because they do not leak. The NALGENE Tritan Grip-N-Gulp BPA-Free Water Bottle,Spring Green works well for a short outing (1-2 hrs). Bring 1-2 L per person for longer trips. Hydration packs like Platypus and Camelbak are great too. *In winter, bring thermoses filled with warm beverages.
  • Food – Bring more than usual; the kids will work up an appetite running around outside!

2. Clothes
Pack in a waterproof stuff sack so they stay dry.

  • hat / toque
  • rain jacket or soft shell – should be water-resistant and windproof
  • down vest, sweater, or jacket (If you are in the mountains, you should pack a down sweater or vest year-round)
  • extra pants and underwear – if children still prone to accidents
  • extra socks – change them if your child’s feet get very sweaty/wet to prevent blisters
  • For cold weather, pack extra gloves or mittens.
See Keeping Kids Warm in Winter for tips on what to wear!

 3. First Aid Kit* 
 Store all items in a freezer grade Ziploc bag so they don’t get wet.

Tip: Put your essentials in a large Ziploc bag so they are easy to find in your pack.

*There are some great mini first aid kits available for purchase if you don’t want to make your own. I like the Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight & Watertight Series Ultralight / Watertight .7 (available at Amazon.ca or Mountain Equipment Co-op).

4. Necessities

5. Safety/Survival Gear
Carry the 10 essentials and brush up on first aid and navigation skills frequently. 

  • Map of area
  • Bear spray
  • Whistles (1 per person)
  • Rain ponchos or space blankets (1 per person); or tarp / bivy sack
  • Headlamps (1 per person)
  • Mirror
  • Compass
  • Folding knife or Swiss Army Knife
  • Waterproof matches / lighter /flint & steel and firestarters in a Ziploc bag
  • Extra food
For bigger trips in the winter and shoulder season, I often bring a backpacking stove. It’s good for hot chocolate on the go, or emergencies.For more information, please read: 10 Wilderness Survival Items Kids Should Carry and
Wilderness Survival Gear You Must Carry (The 10 Essential Systems).

6. Toys 
We store these in a bin near the front door so we can grab & go.
Bring one or two depending on your destination.

  • ball
  • binoculars
  • books for bird/plant/wildlife/animal track/rock identification
  • bubbles- Make your own bubble solution with this recipe.
  • Frisbee
  • Handheld GPS – for route finding or geocaching. (You can also geocache on your phone; learn more here).
  • kite
  • magnifying glass – get at the dollar store
  • sand toys
  • sidewalk chalk
  • Walkie talkies

I hope this is helpful! Is there anything else you like to bring hiking with kids?

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Vandrestøvler May 11, 2016 - 8:25 AM

Thanks for a really great and complete list. It will be used for my future trips.

Playoutsidegal April 1, 2019 - 9:32 PM

You're welcome! 🙂

Play Outside Gal October 12, 2014 - 6:32 AM

Bear spray is good to bring on mountain hikes!

Comments are closed.

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