One of my big summer goals this year is to go on more day hikes on the weekend. Colorado’s mountains are an endless playground and living in downtown Denver, I am at the gateway of so many trails. Part of my strategy for actually waking up on a Sunday and hitting the trails instead of brunch is keeping my day pack well-stocked and ready to go.
Before we take a look in my bag, I recommend making sure you have plenty of water, which is why I pack collapsible water bottles. If I am doing a hike over four miles, I pack two. You can never have too much water on the trails. Depending on the time of year and the hike, I either bring a light weight fleece, a rain jacket, or both. If there is a chance of rain or cold weather at the top I wear leggings, otherwise I wear running shorts. For day hiking shoes, I usually go with my nike trail running shoes and a solid pair of moisture-wicking socks (love these Grateful Dead ones), but if I’m doing something with higher elevation gains or snow, I go for my sturdier hiking boots.
Let’s talk about food. I am super food-motivated on the trail, so I always bring some Rx bars, nuts (usually cashew or salted almonds) and a banana or apple. This is my simple day hike menu. If I am bringing an insulated bag to keep things cold, I either pack our BLT pasta salad or a simple gluten-free ham and mayo sandwich. It’s insanely delicious on the trail.
Peep into my bag for all my favorites below and feel free to shop in the links below to upgrade your day pack.
What’s in my Hiking Day Pack
- light layers – In Colorado, you never quite know what the weather will do next. Layers are crucial for making sure you aren’t too chilly in the shade, and for keeping you dry in case of any unexpected showers.
- backpack water reservoir – These Platypus hydration bags are ideal for day hikes where you’ll need plenty of water. It’s much lighter than carrying around multiple water bottles, and you can sip as you hike.
- first aid kit – Hopefully you won’t need it, but one must always be prepared. Safety first!
- collapsible dog bowl – Clover loves to join in the hiking and camping fun, and these silicone collapsible bowls are perfect for a dog on the go.
- hat, sunglasses and sunscreen – Sun protection is so important, especially when you’re gaining altitude. I don’t leave home without a good pair of sunglasses, and a light hat is great for keeping the sun off your face. I also like to bring my favorite Suntegrity “5 in 1” Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen, plus SPF for the body like Juice Beauty’s Sport Sunscreen, which is both organic and water resistant.
- Rx bars – Chock full of protein and organic ingredients, these gluten-free and dairy-free protein bars are perfect for keeping your energy up on the trail. I’m quite partial to the Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor.
- deodorant wipes – After a solid hike, I love having these on hand to freshen up before driving home or heading to a well-earned post-hike meal.