Dirtbags With Furbags With

Ultimate Day Hiking Gear List: What The Dirtbags Use To Hike

Day hiking gear list - what the dirbags with furbags use

Have you ever had a hike ruined because you didn’t have waterproof shoes, and the trail ended up being muddier than expected? Needed trekking poles on a rocky trek but found yourself stumbling because you never packed them?

We have the ultimate day hiking gear list for your next adventure! We’ll cover everything that we dirtbags with furbags use to hike, from the shoes on our feet to the packs on our backs.

Gear is more important than you think. Without the proper hiking gear, your adventure can turn from an enjoyable walk to a grueling march. Use this list as a hiking checklist to ensure you never forget the things you need when you’re going on a journey!

This post includes affiliate links but rest assured that we only recommend items we would use ourselves. And if you choose to make a purchase, we receive a small commission. No sponsorships, just the truth about our favorite finds.

The Foundation: Footwear and Socks

Day hiking gear list - hiking shoes and socks

Before we get into our day hiking gear list, know that we don’t go for the high-ticket items. We are dirtbags, after all! We use gear that’s functional, budget-friendly, and works properly. Now, onto the good stuff.

Hiking Socks

The socks you wear inside your hiking boots make a bigger difference than you might think. They’re definitely something to consider for your day hiking gear list. If you’re hiking in the desert and kicking sand up on your ankles, a nice pair of calf socks is a lifesaver over a no-show sock.

When I first started hiking, I always wore no-show socks. When I moved to Colorado and started hiking in the red rocks and mountains, I learned about the importance of quarter and calf socks and never looked back!

Here’s what the dirtbags with furbags use:

  • Smartwool: I personally love SmartWool socks, but my partner in crime, Jarrod, isn’t a big fan. I use the Smartwool Performance Hike Full Cushion Crew Socks. I like that they’re not too tight on the calves but still offer protection from tall grass, gravel, sand, and jaggers.
  • Balega: Jarrod is a big fan of Balega. They’re comfortable, don’t make your feet sweat, and fit well in hiking boots. He uses the Balega Blister Resist Quarter Socks.

Hiking Boots

A good pair of hiking boots or trail shoes is crucial for an enjoyable hike. The type of shoe you use may depend on where you live. For wetter areas, waterproof boots are a must. However, for dryer areas, you can get away with just trail shoes.

I always put two pairs of shoes on my day hiking gear list: a waterproof trail running shoe and a waterproof hiking boot. Depending on where I hike, I switch between the two. Jarrod prefers using trail running shoes only.

Here’s what the dirtbags with furbags use:

  • Women’s On Cloudvista Waterproof Trail-Running Shoes: I love these shoes, and when they wear out, I’ll probably buy the same pair. They’re super lightweight and never give me blisters. They are popular with trail runners and nurses alike for their incredibly comfy fit!
  • Women’s Vasque Talus AT UltraDry Hiking Boot: I strap on these babies when the trail is going to be really rough or muddy. One thing I dislike about hiking boots is how clunky they are, which is why I love the Vasque Talus boots. They’re slim and lightweight, so I don’t feel like I’m lugging around an extra ten pounds on my hike.
  • New Balance Fresh Foam X Hierro v7 Trail Running Shoe – Men’s: The New Balance Fresh Foam has a wider toe box, which makes it fit well for those with wider feet. They’re comfortable and have a fin on the back to help with trekking downhill, though it can flip up dirt and rocks when walking on flat ground.
  • HOKA Speedgoat 5 Trail-Running Shoes – Men’s: Jarrod originally got these as trail-running shoes for a race but ended up preferring them as hiking shoes. He said he wouldn’t buy them again for trail running but that they make very good hiking shoes.

We prioritize a waterproof or water-resistant exterior in every pair of hiking shoes. Even in the driest desert, there’s going to be water somewhere, and it can really ruin a hike when your feet are soaking wet.

Dressed for Success: Pants and Tops

Hiking pants and tops

When it comes to hiking clothes, layers are king. Temperatures can change drastically from the bottom of a mountain to the summit or from the top of a valley to the river bottom.

Layers allow you to take off or put on clothes to keep you comfortable, no matter the temperature. They are especially helpful on early morning hikes when the chill of the morning evolves into a scorchingly hot day. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you may be doing an evening hike where the hot day turns into a chilly evening.

Moisture-wicking shirts are the best for hiking. Sweat doesn’t soak into them like cotton shirts, helping you stay cool on those hot summer days. Below is our day hiking gear list for hiking pants and tops, including jackets.

Hiking Pants

Hiking pants, shorts, and capris are a staple in our wardrobe. In fact, it’s basically the only type of pants that we own! When it comes to brands, we love Eddie Bauer.

  • Men’s Guide Pro Convertible Pants: These are Jarrod’s go-to hiking pants. They’re lightweight, well-fitted, and can be converted into hiking shorts.
  • Men’s Switch Jogger Pants: These pants are for more laid-back quick day hikes. They’re comfortable and a little more baggy, making them breathable.
  • Women’s Guide Pro Pants: Eddie Bauer Women’s Guide Pro Pants are lightweight and comfortable. They have zipper pockets to keep all my small necessities secure, like lip balm, cash, and cards.
  • Women’s Guide Pro Capris: On hotter days, I prefer to wear capris like the Women’s Guide Pro Capris. They fit perfectly and have zipper pockets.

Tops

This is where layering comes into play. Start with a moisture-wicking T-shirt, followed by a long-sleeved shirt and then an overshirt such as a jacket, hoodie, or sweatshirt if needed.

Here’s how Robyn layers her hiking tops:

  • Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail Tank Top – Women’s: If it’s summer, this is usually my base layer. You don’t really need Patagonia – any moisture-wicking tank top will do. I just like the way this one fits, and it’s made from breathable fabric.
  • REI Co-op Sahara T-Shirt – Women’s. This is my base layer in the cooler seasons. It’s a simple T-shirt with moisture-wicking material.
  • Fork Stream Long-Sleeve Shirt – Women’s: For my next layer, I wear a light long sleeve. The combination of a T-shirt (or tank) and a light long sleeve is perfect for chilly summer mornings.
  • Coyote Hollow Fleece Pullover—Women’s: If I need an additional layer to keep warm, I usually choose something like a fleece. At this layer, I’m not so concerned with moisture-wicking.
  • Nano Puff Insulated Jacket – Women’s: For cold summits or winter hiking, my final outer layer is an insulated jacket. The Nano Puff is a little expensive, but it does an amazing job of keeping me warm while weighing practically nothing.
  • Arcadia II Rain Jacket – Women’s: On rainy hiking days, I wear the Columbia Arcadia II Rain Jacket. It packs down pretty small, which makes it great for day hikes. It’s also completely waterproof and provides some relief from the biting wind.

Here’s how Jarrod layers his hiking tops:

  • Destination Crew T-Shirt – Men’s: Jarrod typically wears a moisture-wicking T-shirt as a base layer. This Destination Crew T-shirt is made of a super-soft polyester-spandex blend.
  • Tahoe Sun Hoodie – Men’s: For his next layer, Jarrod goes for a long-sleeve or a sweatshirt, depending on the temperature. Jarrod runs a little hot, so he doesn’t normally layer as much as I do.
  • REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket – Men’s: When it gets really cold, Jarrod wears a down jacket to stay warm. The REI Co-op Down Jacket is affordable compared to others in the same category and does its job.
  • Patagonia Houdini Full-Zip Jacket – Men’s: For drizzly or windy days, Jarrod invested in the amazing Patagonia Houdini jacket. It’s super lightweight and packs down incredibly small. It’s the perfect size to throw in a hiking bag as a windbreaker or rain jacket (though it’s not completely waterproof).

Essential Hiking Accessories

Now that we’ve dressed ourselves, it’s time to talk about the exciting stuff: accessories! A day hiking gear list isn’t complete without a backpack, water bottle, and other hiking accessories!

Backpacks

Hiking backpack

Since we normally only do day hikes, the backpacks we have are nothing fancy. They’re functional, comfortable, and get the job done.

We try to stay in the range of 20-35L packs for day hikes. This size is big enough to hold all our gear but small enough that it’s not unwieldy on short hikes.

Even if you’re going on a very short day hike, a backpack should still be on your day hiking gear list. At the very least, it can hold your emergency gear and a water bottle.

  • REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack: This 22L summit day pack has all the bells and whistles of an expensive backpack without the price tag. Some of its best features are its breathability with mesh nylon on the straps and back, the many compartments and zippers to keep items secure, and the ability to remove the back pad to sit on at the summit of your hike. It can also hold a hydration pack and is ultralight at just 14 ounces!
  • Osprey Daylite Plus Earth Backpack: The Daylite is a smaller backpack, which is perfect for short, petite hikers like me. It can hold 20L worth of gear and weighs 1.4 pounds. The straps are adjustable, but for smaller hikers who have to cinch the straps all the way, the excess material can get annoying.

Trekking Poles

Not every hike requires trekking poles. They are best used for hikes with steep climbs, elevation gain, or rocky terrain. Trekking poles also help when going down hills or rocky terrain. The poles help slow your momentum and stabilize your footing.

Again, we chose our trekking poles with a budget in mind, but they have stood up to the test of time. We use the Black Diamond Distance Z Trekking Poles. We have two sets of the same poles and have been using them for years without issue.

The poles have interchangeable rubber and carbide tips. The tips can be switched out depending on the type of terrain you are hiking in. Make sure to include trekking poles on your day hiking gear list if you plan to hike on rough terrain, ice, or steep hills.

Water Bottles

This is one area of our day hiking gear list that we could probably improve on, but we just haven’t committed because what we use now works. Water bottles for hiking should be lightweight, leak-proof, and easy to store in your bag. Our water bottles are somewhat clunky, but they work!

We use a Yeti insulated water bottle. It keeps our water cold for however long we’re out, but it’s pretty heavy – around 1.4 pounds. If we could choose the water bottle we wanted, it would be the REI Co-op Nalgene Sustain Graphic Wide-Mouth Water Bottle. It weighs just 3 ounces and holds up to 16 ounces, which is pretty good for a small day hike.

Hats

As I get older, I realize that I care more about functionality than style. When it comes to hiking in high altitudes or sunny destinations, I prefer wide-brimmed sun hats.

They protect my eyes from the sun and the back of my neck from getting sunburned. Honestly, the little protection strap that I can wear when it’s windy may look dorky, but I love it!

When Jarrod and I were picking out hats, he went to the men’s, and I went to the women’s department. When we met back up, we both had the same hats picked out, just in different sizes! It was the Columbia Bora Bora Booney II Hat. It has a moisture-wicking liner, UV protection, and a wide brim.

Sunscreen

Sunscreen is an essential day hiking gear list item when adventuring in high altitudes or areas with lots of sun. We prefer sunscreen that doesn’t leave our skin feeling sticky and smelling of chemicals.

We use Thinksport Clear Zinc SPF 50 Sunscreen. It contains no benzene, oxybenzone, or phthalates, which is important to us. This sunscreen is usually used for watersports, but we like it because it stays on even when we’re sweating while trudging up a mountainside. The only downside is that it goes on thick.

Sunglasses

People are finicky with sunglasses. Some prefer name brands like Ray-Ban, while others are content with generic shades from Walmart. Hey, no judgment here!

Our hiking sunglasses are mid-range. They’re not a high-end brand but neither are they $2 from a drug store. We use ShadyRays. They’re scratch-resistant, offer 100% UV protection, and come with two free replacements within the first two years – no questions asked.

Other Hiking Essentials for a Day on the Trail

First Aid kit bought from a store in a nice small container

We’re nearing the end of our day hiking gear list, but there are still a few items we would like to share with you that are always in our day packs.

First Aid Kit

First aid kits are one of those things you put on your day hiking gear list but never hope to use. However, when you need it, you’re certainly glad you have it.

Since we bring our dog, Pawdrick, on most of our hikes, we try to incorporate our first aid kit so that we can also address any possible injuries that he might sustain on a hike.

The Adventure Medical Kits Me And My Dog First Aid Kit works perfectly for us! It has all the essentials for a human and a dog in case of an emergency.

Snacks

I don’t know about you, but I hike just to enjoy snacks in a cool place. Bastyr University tells us that carbohydrates are one of the most important sources of fuel on day hikes. Pack things like granola, PB&J on whole grain bread, and fruits.

Nuts like almonds and cashews are high in fat and protein, making them excellent trail food. One of my favorite things to pack is homemade trail mix:

  • Granola
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Raisins
  • Dark chocolate pieces
  • Crushed pretzel pieces

Let’s be honest: The dark chocolate is the best part of the mix, but combined with the other ingredients, it makes for a truly delicious (and fuel-efficient) trail snack!

Emergency Gear

Other than a first aid kit, there are a few things you can throw on your day hiking gear list and into your backpack:

  • Compass: we use a simple compass, nothing fancy. As long as it’s accurate. Something like the Suunto Clipper L/B NH Compass is more than adequate. Ours came with the backpack, but it is very similar to the Suunto.
  • Emergency blanket or shelter: Sometimes, day hikes turn into overnight trips when something goes wrong. Maybe you got lost or hiked later than you realized and can’t find your way back. An emergency shelter like the Survive Outdoors Longer Emergency Bivvy can pack down extremely small and fit inside your backpack with ease.
  • Protection: Consider bringing bear spray if you’re hiking in grizzly territory. We carry Counter Assault’s 10.2oz Bear Deterrent Spray. We hope to never use it, but if it comes down to it, we’ll be happy we have it. You can read our guide on what to do if you see a grizzly bear on a hike here!

Wrapping Up Your Day Hiking Gear List

That’s all we have for our day hiking checklist! Remember, hiking gear is more than just having fancy backpacks and expensive boots. It’s about finding functional gear that fits your specific style.

Day hikes can mean so many different things, from hiking up and down a mountain to strolling through your local park. No matter what kind of day hike you have planned, having the correct gear can make all the difference!

Do you have an essential piece of day hiking gear that we left off the list? Let us know in the comments below! We’re all in this great adventure together. And hey, if you found this hiking gear checklist helpful, maybe pass it on to a fellow hiker looking to get started.

Until next time, keep exploring. For more hiking tips and gear lists, check out our hiking blog!

Hiker standing on edge of rock overlook
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2 comments

  1. I visited Mammoth two weeks ago and stepped into a slushy puddle of ice. Luckily, my hiking shoes held up well but I was worried my socks were about to be wet. Since then, I learned my lesson and bought some waterproof hiking shoes. Great post and timely reminder (for me).

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