Larrys List for Day Hiking

Essentials for Day Hiking in the Southeast

  • Day Pack – comfortable, adequate space, water bottle holders (lumbar pack sometimes substituted during short hikes and hot/humid weather)
  • Water – adequate water for length of hike and environmental conditions (1 to 2 bottles minimum)
  • Food/snacks – Trail snacks to keep up energy, ensure proper electrolyte balance, and just because eating a snack (or meal) while outdoors feels good!
  • First Aid Kit – small, packable kit to include bandaids, moleskin, gauze, pain killers, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, stingeaze, benadryl, etc.
  • Sunscreen – in the South this is a must.  Choose SPF30 or better and one that is waterproof. 
  • Insect Repellent – also a must during warmer and wetter months.  I usually use Bullfrog Mosquito Coast which combines a Sunscreen and Repellent.  May need a higher DEET containing product is in high tick infested areas.
  • Wide brim hat – comfortable, lightweight.  Something to shed the sunlight off your head during the blazing summer days.  Baseball caps do not protect ears, face, and neck.
  • Cool, Lightweight Shirt – Supplex nylon or similar material dries faster than cotton and helps keep you cool.  Cotton is an all-time favorite and is unmatched for comfort but does not dry fast.  If you expect to get wet, cotton may not be your first choice.  Be sure and layer your clothing during cooler months.  Long sleeve (roll up type) shirts DO keep you cooler in direct sun (such as in desert conditions) but are hindered in their advantage due to the humid subtropical climate we enjoy.  Long sleeves also protect from bug bites!
  • Lightweight pants – I prefer 6-pocket cargo pants on most of my hikes.  Again, nylon synthetic pants dry quicker than cotton and canvas.  Long pants provide protection from briers, brambles, and help keep ticks off!  You might like the zip-off type for added functionality.
  • Hiking boots/shoes – I prefer comfortable, hiking boots to shoes due to the added stability and protection.  Make sure you “break them in” before hitting the long trail.  Water repellancy may be an issue during colder times of the year.
  • Socks – comfortable socks, cotton, wool, or synthetic blends.  Make sure there are no rough seams to rub blisters on your feet.  Keeping your feet dry and healthy is paramount for hiking.
  • Hiking Staff – I recommend carrying one.  I use an adjustable aluminum pole (also has a small compass in the handle) during my hikes.  The staff helps cushion your steps, provides extra leverage on tricky terrain, and aids in both ascents and descents.
  • Emergency Items – Cell phone (if coverage is available) is good for emergencies.  Flashlight (spare batteries/bulb), fire starting material (waterproof matches, flint, etc.), knife (fixed or larger lock blade), Space Blanket (aluminized rescue blanket), poncho (for rain and for emergency shelter), water purification tablets or dependable water filtration device, signal devices (whistle, air horn, mirror), plastic bags (ziplock, bright colored trash bag, if available.)  Map & Compass (KNOW how to use them!).  GPS devices are nice but being electronic they are prone to failure in an emergency situation.  SPoT (Satellite Personal Transmitter) or other Personal Locator Beacon is worth looking at if you hike alone or are 'way off' the beaten path.  MOST IMPORTANT: Leave a trusted person your detailed plans before you hit the trail!