Day Hiking Essentials from Head to Toes

Over nearly two years of living and breathing the Seattle air, I have gathered numbers of tips to be safe, have fun, and look good while being outdoors. I do lots of day hikes and would not mind driving an hour or two to a trailhead almost every weekend when the weather permits.

I often do a bit of research about the trail that I want to do a week or days in advance. Things to be considered are who is my hiking partner (it’s more fun to hike with someone, but you can totally do it yourself!), how far I plan to hike, how much time I have. I also look at the weather and trail conditions, and I really trust reviews on the AllTrails website. In general, for a longer or more advanced hike, I will pack more food, more water, and more layers.

WHAT TO BRING DAY HIKING:

  1. Personal items: credit card, cash, IDs, phone & phone charger, keys, (camera & lens)
  2. Hiking partner/s 🙂
  3. Clothing (details below)
  4. Sun protection: sunglasses, sunscreen, hats
  5. Other things to consider:
    • Extra food and trail snacks, extra water, extra clothes: PACK LIGHT, FOLDABLE, OR COLLAPSABLE
    • Bug repellant (as needed, read reviews before heading out because chances are people have already hiked and voiced their complaints.)
    • Headlamp (I use my iphone’s flashlight, and this is when the charger comes in handy!)
    • Hand sanitizer (I often forget to bring! :P)
    • For long hikes: medication (if needed), wet wipes, menstrual products, toilet papers, a knife, fire (matches or a lighter)

WHAT TO WEAR DAY HIKING:

Please remember that the exact items to bring can be tailored to the trip that you are taking. Don’t need to bring everything I mention here if you do just half-day easy hike, but please really consider factors such as weather, time of the day and duration of the hike, difficulty (elevation gain, rocky, snowy trail conditions), and distance. For more difficult terrain (hikes rated as Medium or Hard), of course, you’d need to be a lot more prepared by bringing extra everything.

  1. Hiking footwear
  2. Hiking backpack
  3. Clothes – bras, leggings, base layers, underwears, baselayers, windbreaker, and rainwear
  4. Hiking gears: trekking poles, hats and water bottles

1. Hiking shoes and socks:

Footwear is one of the most important things as I cannot stress enough the importance of comfort and functionality while you are out in the wild. Choosing the right pair of shoes or boots is not an easy task as it has taken me a long time to settle on a pair of legit hiking boots as well.

The best way to get started is to go to your local outdoorsy shop or a nearby REI store to try on a bunch and ask questions. That’s what I did in-store as the try-on in-store experience definitely helped me narrow down to what brand, style, and colors. I did lots of research, and many of you recommended me Keen boots (thanks Sarah if you’re reading this!).

Whatever you wear, make sure that the shoes are comfortable. Thick and long wool or synthetic socks are also must-have as well. Avoid cotton material because it is not moisture-wicking!

Keen Targhee III Mid Waterproof hiking boots: I got my Keen for 20% off my first order on Backcountry. Color is Brindle/Quiet Harbor. After over a month, I’m happy to report that I love and recommend them! They fit true to size, and with socks, my toes still have some wiggle room. Waterproof, lightweight, and comfortable! Plus the rubber soles give incredible traction on trails. My only complaint is the nubuck leather upper tends to pick up dirt quite easily, but overall, these are game-changers for me!

The one hiking or outdoorsy sandals I recommend and forever will do are the Luna’s Oso or the Mono. The Oso are my most worn sandals in the year of 2018! The only difference is the Oso has more durable and sturdy soles while the Mono is softer and more city-wear appropriate. Luna’s new styles have the ‘wing’ feature which tends to rub on both sides of the foot a little bit, but they get much more comfortable after two or three wears. I currently have the Mono Premium Bistone, gifted by them, but I genuinely wish I got the Oso instead because I’ve lost mine at the end of my California road trip. The leather straps are nice, but I’d much prefer the regular cord straps! Get them and I promise they will make your outdoorsy experience much more enjoyable and safe.

2. Hiking Backpacks:

I usually bring this Patagonia slingback backpack, compact but enough to store a water bottle, a banh mi for lunch, and my personal items. The Kanken is also a great investment backpack, perfect for travel and lightweight on trails. My only complaint is the straps as they dig into my skin! When I hike with other people, we usually carry light and have very few designated backpack to store our food. I’d like to be hand free most of the time, so I’d rather take turn to carry stuff once others are tired of it. REI has a really informative article about choosing your daypacks, here.

pink mini Kanken

3. Clothes – bras, leggings, base layers, underwears, and outerwears:

Sports bras: I like wearing a sports bra and legging combo while hiking, and depending on the weather, I’d bring a long-sleeve T-shirt, a light breathable jacket, or a wind/rain jacket. My top brands when it comes to hiking clothes are Outdoor Voices, Girlfriend Collective, Lululemon, and Patagonia!

Outdoor Voices: I love all of the fun colorful OV sets and their Techsweat range the most! I have an Athena crop, Doing Things bra, 7/8 Spring leggings, Techsweat 3/4 leggings and shorts, Doing Things hat, and I love them all. OV has also recently released their cotton Tshirts and sweaters, and I’m also eyeing a few styles. They occasionally do collabs with shoe brands such as Teva and Hoka, so good!

Girlfriend Collective: Girlfriend’s set is also so cute, and I love the jeweled tones as well as the fabric. Their Paloma bra is the most worn bra this year for me because of the flattering cut. I love their compressive leggings as well, both the regular length and the biker shorts. Their fabric and fit are very different from OV, and I always have a hard time recommending people on which brand. *I am an XS in both tops and bottoms at Girlfriend, and in case you’re wondering, I’m a 32B and wear bottoms size 25.

LuluLemon: I don’t think Lululemon needs any introduction here on my blog. I have two pairs of black leggings, the Wunder Under and the Align, and they are my closet staples for the past 3 years now. I also love their Free to Be Serene bra and like to wear it underneath any T-shirt or sweater, especially when hiking on colder days.

Patagonia: I have this Patagonia hat in purple and this men’s long-sleeve T-shirt, and I don’t think I’d stop there. I love Patagonia as a brand and what they’re sustainability effort! I’m adding a sweater, more knee-length shorts, and some actual long hiking pants in my list to buy this fall season as well!

When it comes to undies, I’d stay away from grandma’s panties and cotton anything. My favorites are the no seam thongs from Calvin Klein! No bras? No bras!!! I hate bras!! I wear these nippes under T-shirts or just a sports bra underneath, that’s all!

Uniqlo makes great heat-tech T-shirts to layer underneath a thicker sweater or jacket on colder days, and their Uniqlo U sweaters are so affordable and cute. I have a light breathable jacket from them that I like to layer underneath another layer as well! I have this Marmot jacket in navy, bought on sale at REI last year. Cotopaxi makes some cute windbreakers, so check it out here as well. If you’re looking for sweaters that are not too stuffy and great for hikes, try Tradlands. Brandy Melville has lots of cute cotton sweaters and sweatshirts, too! And last but not least, Nike is a great place to go for packable wind or rain jacket.

4. Hiking gears – trekking poles, hats, and water bottles:

I have these trekking poles added in my list to buy for fall hiking. Those I know will help tremendously with speed, balance, and stability. And other gears I have yet to buy are some spikes for my shoes for early winter and late spring hikes. Other things to keep your face and eyes out of the sun, especially in high elevation when it tends to get super intense: sunglasses, hats, etc. I’ve included some of my water bottle recommendations for you to buy below. Patagonia also carries Miir branded bottles with their logos on it, lightweight and perfect for one person.

Sharing a few photos from previous hikes I’ve done wearing pieces I’ve mentioned in this post, enjoy!

We have matching Cotopaxi windbreaker, hah!

I hope that this post is helpful for some of you beginners or have been wanting to get outside and do some hiking. You can totally wear your favorite Nike or Adidas and wear anything you have in your closet if you are just out once in a while. I, highly, recommend having a few moisture-wicking, breathable and tech-wear stuff in your closet so that you’re always prepared. Be safe and have fun while doing it are all I hope you will get out of this at the end! Talk soon!

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Check out my Hike Washington blog posts for more outdoors inspiration:

Hidden Lake Lookout

Chain Lakes Loop Mt. Baker

Lake Serene

Paradise Mt. Rainier

Lake Colchuck

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An Trieu

Currently based in Seattle, Style & Senses is my digital life and style journal of all things that inspire my senses and beyond. Hope you stay inspired, as always! - An Trieu.

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