How to prepare for a day hike


Senior Michael Whitmoyer strikes a face for the camera at Indian Mounds, Cedarville, Ohio (photo by Bryanna Dodds)

Bryanna Dodds, Co-Editor

Hiking is a great way to get exercise and not even feel like it. You can go solo or you can have a group or just a friend. But you must always be prepared for it and that’s what I am going to be helping you every step of the way.


First thing that you will need is a bag. A decent bag doesn’t have to be a hiking bag, just a simple book bag will work out just fine. Just make sure that it is comfortable to carry around in your bag for a few hours. I carry a 12 liter bag that I got in the camping section of Walmart. 

Now supplies that will go into the bag- this is very important. 

Among the many supplies you will need you will ALWAYS need these 10 things:

  1. Navigation: this can be a map, compass, altimeter, GPS device, personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite messenger
  2. Headlamp: plus extra batteries- but keep them dry and check they are in working condition
  3. Sun protection: sunglasses, sun-protective clothes and sunscreen- sunburn sucks, aloe is also a safe call to carry with you
  4. First aid: including foot care and insect repellent- if you have weak ankles or anything benign a brace as well, you will thank yourself later. 
  5. Knife: plus a gear repair kit- please make sure your knife can cut things
  6. Fire: matches, lighter, tinder and/or  a backpacking stove-  if you want a hot meal the stove is nice, you can find them anywhere camping supplies is sold
  7. Shelter: carried at all times- can be a light emergency bivy or a small tarp
  8. Extra food: Beyond the minimum expectation- make sure it is appropriate for the trip and won’t spoil
  9. Extra water: Beyond the minimum expectation- a bladder is great to have along with an extra bottle and iodine tablets or a Life Straw to purify water you find. But, be careful. 
  10. Extra clothes: Beyond the minimum expectation- no one wants a wet drive home and remember extra socks maybe keep an extra pair of shoes in the car won’t hurt anybody. 

You can also check out this handy-dandy checklist to help you pay for your trip. 

Besides the basics for every hike you can always bring other things to make yourself more comfortable. Some of my friends bring hammocks that they set up and chill on after their hike. You can bring really anything on your hike–just be mindful that you will have to carry this if you don’t plan on keeping it in the car while you hike. 

On the topic of cars, ALWAYS lock your car when you are on a hike. People of today will do a lot to get the things that they want. Keep your keys on you in something waterproof to make sure they will be okay for the hike- you don’t want to be making phone calls for some keys or lost items.

Other than some simple safety and tips, hiking alone can be terrible. Bring a friend with you or hike in a group. Do try not to have huge groups -10 is my max-  and it is also safer to bring a friend. They can also be your photographer.

You can always bring along your furry friend if you wish, but be able to meet their needs as well as yours and give them breaks and proper equipment. Your friend’s needs must be met, they must be comfortable and watch them on the trail to make sure they are okay. 

Always be safe and prepared for your hike and know where you are going. Try to stay on the trails if you are new to the area. Also, always be aware of the rules of the place that you plan to visit and respect the area. And as always, enjoy hiking and take lots of pictures!